Special Collections & Archives hosted a graduate intern from San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science in Fall 2012. Chris compiled the following reflection on his experience, a longer version of which is also posted to his weekly intern blog Archivist Apprentice. Thanks and best of luck, Chris!
Meet the Intern
During the fall of 2012 I had the pleasure and privilege of working as an intern at UC Irvine Libraries Special Collections and Archives (SC&A). For a graduate MLIS student interested in being exposed to archival best practices in a professionally run environment, UCI’s SC&A easily fits the bill.
I am an Information Technology professional by trade, but I volunteer for a California desert historical society. After thirty years of making a living in business information around Orange County, I decided to pursue a second career in history information — otherwise known as an archivist.
As part of the MLIS educational experience students are encouraged to obtain practical experience by means of internship programs in working archives. I work and live in south Orange County in southern California. The UCI campus has been a recurring theme in my life although my higher education has been obtained primarily from Cal State institutions. Through my coursework I was familiar with Michelle Light’s publications and learned she was the Head of Special Collections, Archives, and Digital Scholarship at UCI. From her presentation at the 2011 Society of American Archivists conference I learned that the department she managed was at the forefront of archival practice. I introduced myself and she encouraged me to apply for an internship at SC&A.
The Internship Site
The UCI Libraries, Special Collections and Archives houses the UC Irvine Libraries’ collections of rare books, manuscripts, archives, photographs, and other rare and special materials. Students, researchers, and community members are encouraged to visit and use the collections and services available within the department’s reading room.
Back in the staff area of the Langson, one of two cubicle spaces is set aside for sharing by transient resources such as interns. It’s a nice space with a networked computer, a decent amount of flat work area, and a window view of the San Gabriel Mountains. Archivists’ Toolkit was the archival data management technology used along with a home-grown Stacks Locator for logging the locations of shelved collections. Other utilities such as JEdit and NetDrive used to upload EAD to OAC are covered in my Day 8.0 blog post.
Overall, my internship at the UCI SC&A was a personal success because I was able to accomplish the goals I set out for myself. Most of my MLIS coursework has previously revolved around archival theory. This internship was my opportunity to apply that theory in a practical setting in highly organized archives under professional guidance. At its core, my plan was to process manuscript collections from “soup to nuts,” and the wonderful archivists at UCI helped me do just that over the course of 138 hours of hands-on work on seven collections comprising 7.6 linear feet of processed material.
Sometimes, I think it was the small decisions, the ones that were neither intuitive nor spelled out in procedure manuals that were the most difficult aspects of the work experience. There are some things that are learned only by asking someone in the know and the archivists at UCI, especially my site supervisor Audra Eagle Yun, were generous with their time and knowledge.
From my internship I gained confidence with and practical knowledge of accessioning, rehousing, arranging, describing, preserving, shelving, creating finding aids, and generating and uploading EAD code to the Online Archive of California (OAC) for paper-based collections. In terms of more advance archival techniques I was able to apply minimal processing concepts, DACS standards, and Library of Congress subject headings. At UCI, I had the privilege of working with archivists who are serious about adhering to professional and internal standards. As Audra said to me, “our finding aids and the presentation of source materials are how our patrons judge the quality of our work. Let’s be consistent, accurate, and neat!”
If the success of my internship were to be quickly summed up in terms of processing output, then the answer would be the finding aids of the seven small collections posted at the Online Archive of California:
MS-R160, Committee of 4000 Records, 0.2 linear feet
MS-R161, Orange County Commission on the Status of Women Records, 0.4 linear feet
MS-R162, Orange County Human Relations Commission Records, 1.2 linear feet
MS-R163, Collection of Clippings on the Development of Irvine, California and Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission, 0.6 linear feet
MS-R164, Environmental Coalition of Orange County Records, 2.0 linear feet
MS-R165, Fair Housing Council of Orange County Records, 1.4 linear feet
MS-F037, Jerome Tobis papers, 1.8 linear feet