Behind the Curtain: Sylva Osbourne, Summer Intern

Role: Summer Intern at the IU Archives

Educational Background: B.A. in Music from the University of Chicago. Current graduate student in the School of Informatics and Computing seeking a Master of Library Science (MLS) with a specialization in Archives and Records Management and interest in preservation/conservation.

How she got here: Before coming to IU, Sylva spent most of her undergraduate years working at the Regenstein Library, the University of Chicago’s main library. As a student assistant in circulation she became very familiar with the complexities of maintaining a large stacks collection. After graduation, she switched gears landing a part-time position in the technical services department of the law library for Sidley Austin LLP in downtown Chicago. It was here she decided to pursue a career in librarianship, leading her to IU and the MLS program.

This internship has been her first experience working in any kind of archival repository. Prior to this, her main work and library experience have been more on the technical services side of things. Her previous experience is what led her to decide that she wanted to do more hands-on work with library materials, sparking her interest in archives and preservation.

Favorite Collection in the IU Archives: Sylva’s favorite collection at IU is the collection of yearbooks housed in the archive reading room. Before the University became too big, the yearbooks contained pictures of all the students at IU each year. They also include pictures of all student organizations, sports teams, and faculty members, just like a traditional yearbook. Following the student population explosion after WWII, the yearbook however had to adapt. Rather than just pages of pictures of students, the yearbooks started to include interesting pieces on and photos of the various events and activities that happened around IU each year. At the end, you will still find portraits of the graduating class and student organizations but the majority of the books offer a fascinating glimpse of IU life as the years go on.

Current Project: Currently, Sylva is processing a recently acquired collection from the Commission on Multicultural Understanding (COMU). Despite the occasional papercut, she is enjoying being able to dive into the folders and get an in-depth look at the work COMU did for IU. She is also researching the story of a student at IU from the late 1910s who was accused of building “infernal devices” with various mechanical parts found in his room. He was an expert watchmaker who was cleared of all charges as all of the parts were found harmless. Using ancestry.com and different parts of the IU Archive collection, Sylva is trying to track documents relating to this man’s life to be used in a future active-learning exercise for instruction sessions at the archives.

Favorite experience in the IU Archives: Sylva’s favorite thing about being an intern at the archives is the chance to learn from some amazing people. Having had very little experience with archives before, she has gained a lot of practical knowledge.

What she’s learned from working here: Sylva has learned a great deal about some of the key figures in IU’s history from sifting through the papers of the president office, in particular President William Lowe Bryan (1902-1937). It’s nice to be able to connect buildings and things around town to the people for which they were named!

Behind the Curtain: Brad Cook, Curator of Photographs

Role: Curator of Photographs

Educational Background: B.A. in History from IU; MLS with a specialization in rare books and manuscripts from IU

How he got here: Brad was working on his history degree and decided to visit the Archives to see if they had any materials on is grandfather who graduated from IU in 1939.  He had not previously thought of archives as a potential career, but he knew that he wanted to pursue a career in the field after this visit.  He filled out an application and started working part-time as a student assistant.

 Favorite item in the collection: His favorite photograph is the one shown here of the IU football team in the locker room after winning IU’s only undisputed Big Ten football title in 1945.

1945 football team in locker room after beating Purdue
1945 football team in locker room after beating Purdue, IU Archives Imave no. P0023419

Current projects: Brad is helping the Athletic Dept. finish their branding of the newly-renovated Assembly Hall by locating and providing photographs.  He is also working with a producer who is putting together a documentary about IU’s 1975-1976 basketball team, the last team in college basketball history to go undefeated and win the national championship.

Favorite experience in the IU Archives: Acquiring the photograph collections of Will Counts and Dave Repp

What he’s learned from working here: Brad says everything he’s learned about IU’s history he’s learned from 24 years of working in the Archives.

Behind the Curtain: Heidi Kelly, Digital Preservation Librarian

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Title: IU Libraries Digital Preservation Librarian

Role: Heidi runs the Born Digital Preservation Lab (BDPL), which works to preserve born-digital media, like floppy disks, CDs, hard drives, and electronic file directories. She works regularly with the University Archives to transfer media from physical collections to create disk images and store exact copies of the original media in IU’s secure long-term storage, SDA (Scholarly Data Archive). SDA is managed by the UITS Research Storage team. She’s been working extensively with IU Archives Assistant Archivist Mary Mellon to set up basic procedures and workflows for preserving born-digital media in the IU Archives’ collections.

Educational Background: Heidi holds an MLIS from Wayne State University in Detroit and took part in the inaugural National Digital Stewardship Residency (NDSR) program at the Library of Congress in 2013. She does not have any archival training, which has been a challenge in some of her work with the BDPL because she’s not a digital archivist.

Previous Experience: Heidi’s first job out of library school was at Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan, where she ran the Digitization Centre and acted as subject liaison for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. She had some previous background in working abroad prior to that, so she was looking for a librarian position abroad and got lucky to find one that basically let her set up a whole department. From there she took part in the NDSR program- which involved surveying digital assets at  the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, a small Harvard research collection for Byzantine, Pre-Columbian, and Garden and Landscape Studies.  She received training from the top experts in digital preservation, like Nancy McGovern and former IU faculty Jake Nadal. When that finished she moved to The Hague and worked at a Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences institute, Huygens, to try and figure out long-term sustainability of their digital scholarly editions. Heidi got homesick for the Midwest though, and ended up here at IU.

At IU, Heidi has taken part in open source development by taking over as the product owner on HydraDAM2, which is the preservation repository for all of the audiovisual content coming out of the large MDPI project.

Favorite items in the IU Archives: The collections that have really unique media and present digital preservation challenges are probably the most interesting.

Current project: It’s sort of ongoing and varied. She’s been imaging content from different collections as it comes, so it’s too broad to really say.

Favorite experience in the IU Archives: She got to plug in an old hard drive of Mike Pence’s last month, to figure out how to preserve the content on it. That was pretty timely, and reminded her of the relevance her work.

What she’s learned about IU: Dina Kellams gives a great presentation on the history of the IU Libraries, including the story behind the architectural design of the Herman B Wells Library. She stole Dina’s use of the term “triscuit architecture” when describing the building.

Behind the Curtain: Sophia Phillips, Processor and Encoder

Behind the Curtain is a series highlighting IU Archives staff, partners from various departments of the IU Libraries, and students who make all of our work possible. Continue to follow over the coming months to read how and who make the magic happen!

Role: Sophia assists with the Modern Political Papers collection, where she helps to inventory and organize the papers of the Richard Lugar collection (see here for an inventory of the Lugar Legislative Activity Files, 1977-2010). In the fall of 2016, she also worked as an encoder with the IU Board of Trustees and Bloomington Faculty Council minutes.

Educational Background: B.A. in Spanish from University of Colorado–Boulder with a minor in History; Current MLS student at IU

How she got here:  Before attending IU, Sophia completed an internship with the Stephen H. Hart Library and Research Center at the History Colorado Center in Denver. Her internship involved doing a research survey of the library’s Research Services Inc. collection. She identified the subjects of the records, which covered a variety of subjects such as education surveys and political polls. Then, she compiled all of this information into an Excel spreadsheet to create an informal finding aid.

She was interested in working at the IU Archives to gain more first-hand experience with archival materials, and try to learn about as many different activities involved in archives as possible. She also wanted to see how a university archives operates to understand how it differs from other archival institutions.

Projects: Sophia used TEI to encode the historical minutes of the Board of Trustees and make them available online. She worked her way through the early 1900s. She also encoded the Bloomington Faculty Council minutes from the past two years.

Favorite experience in the IU Archives: Sophia enjoys being able to work with such a wide variety of material types, from photos, to press clippings, to memorabilia.

What she’s learned from working here: She’s learned more about some of the major figures in IU history, such as David Starr Jordan and Daniel Kirkwood. She says it’s interesting to recognize names from buildings and streets that she sees every day, and to find out who they were named for.

Behind the Curtain: Elizabeth Peters, EAD Assistant

Behind the Curtain is a series highlighting IU Archives staff, partners from various departments of the IU Libraries, and students who make all of our work possible. Continue to follow over the coming months to read how and who make the magic happen!

elizabeth_petersRole: EAD Assistant at the IU Archives and the Lilly Library

Educational Background: BA in Linguistics from Haverford College in Pennsylvania; Current MLS student with a specialization in archives and records management

How she got here: Elizabeth started working in archives as an undergraduate at Haverford College. She loved her experience so much that she decided to pursue archives further. One of her favorite things about working in the archives at Haverford was gaining a connection to the broader College community through learning about other people who had been there. At IU, as a graduate student, she knew it would be harder to make personal connections to the institution. By working in the University Archives, she feels that she can gain that sort of connection through interacting with the community’s history.

Elizabeth has had internships at the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, MA, the National Anthropological Archives in Washington, DC, and the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies in Philadelphia, PA. At IU, Elizabeth previously worked as an Archives Assistant at the IU Archives last fall, and has been the EAD Assistant since January 2015.

C597 Doris Joan Richards Neff scrapbook, 1945-1946 which includes everything from dance cards, a cookie, a frog eye lens, and chewed gum

Favorite item in the collection: Elizabeth’s favorite items in the IU Archives’ collection are D. Joan Neff scrapbooks. She had lots of fun processing them, because each page turned yielded a new surprise. One page squished a bit, and there she discovered a (70-year-old) cookie. Another page made an odd swishing sound, and there were some dried roses. She notes that the best part is that, in addition to being anecdotally exciting, the scrapbooks really are a valuable resource for learning about student experiences during the late 1940s.

Current projects: Elizabeth serves as the EAD Assistant for the IU Archives and the Lilly Library. She encodes the online finding aids for these two repositories.

Favorite experience in the IU Archives: Elizabeth enjoyed when the descendants of Carrie Parker, the first African-American woman to attend IU, came to visit the archives. She was staffing the desk in the reading room at the time, and found it was really exciting to be confronted with the sort of power archives can have when they insist on valuing and appreciating the accomplishments of people who might otherwise consider themselves perfectly ordinary.

What she’s learned from working here: Elizabeth has been impressed by the extent that IU has grown over the past century. She once came across a story from the 1950s about a dispute over whether a particular house was in the Bloomington town limits or not. Looking at the address, she realized that she lives even further from campus than that address, yet her apartment is definitively within town limits.