Not that long ago I wrote about #DataRescueDavis, a library program that I helped with at the UC Davis Peter J. Shields Library. I also recapped my participation in my weekly journal for my class instructor; in it, I asked “what are “traditional” library programs anyway? Do academic libraries have a “typical” set of events that they’d usually participate in, and I’m just not aware of them?” Can I come up with any unique or useful program ideas?
My professor commented:
Somehow, I don’t believe that ‘traditional’ programming for libraries exists any longer – in any type of library.
What exactly is library programming? Well, to answer that question, you might first ask yourself, just what is it that librarians do all day? There’s a myth that librarians just sit around and read books all day, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Librarians tend to be people who love books, but that doesn’t mean they get paid to read them!
One thing that librarians have to do is organize events. In information science parlance this is called “library programming.” It’s one thing to expect there to be programs of some sort at your local public library branch, e.g. craft events, story time for babies and toddlers, or special speaker events, but what about at academic libraries?
Library Programming at UC Davis: What is #DataRescueDavis?
As this is my first post, I’ll make a quick introduction. My name is Samantha and I’m currently interning at a local museum library. It’s an organization that runs on the back of volunteers and interns like myself because it is a state run museum that is dreadfully underfunded. In my short time there I’v become aware of the great personal rewards and severe limitations that are part of that job.
For example, anyone who has a shred of interest in history can spend their whole day just combing through the collection and countless items of interest. Since I’m in Las Vegas, there is no end of information available on the early history of the town and the Mob Era. Personally, I think this is some of the most fascinating local history I’ve ever read. On a personal note I was able to locate my husband’s grandfather listed in a phone book from 1962. He was in the U.S. Air Force and stationed here at Nellis Air Force Base for a few years. It’s not much but it’s fun on a personal level only because no-one keeps old phone books.
On the flip side, there are huge staffing and budgetary limitations that must be dealt with on a daily basis. My current project revolves around reorganizing the publication collection at the library. This collection houses magazines and periodicals specifically relating to Las Vegas or the local era going as far back as the 1950’s. Previous volunteers and interns had taken matters into their own hands with the collection, rather than consulting with the Curator, and now we are trying to fix items that are out of order, mislabeled, and (more worrisome) becoming damaged due to improper storage. It’s very hard to contend with that kind of chaos when there are limited hands to help. I very much admire my site supervisor for her dedication to the collection in the face of this frustration.
I hope to make this line of work my career as I find historical archives fascinating so I’m very glad for the option to work in a museum such as this. It’s given me great perspective on the pitfalls and rewards I will encounter on a daily basis. I would like to think the situation might be better were I to work at an organization that is not publicly funded. I’m under no delusion that a private organization wouldn’t have their own issues with which to contend. Had I not taken this internship, I wouldn’t have been as forewarned as I am now and I’m so grateful that I am. At least now I have an idea of what it takes to fight the good fight.
Just over three weeks ago, I started an internship at the University of California at Davis’ Peter J. Shields Library with the university archivist. It wasn’t until earlier this week that it hit me: we are all librarians. No, really. Many librarians do something called “collection processing.” But whenever someone empties out their wallet or takes out the trash, they’re also processing a collection. What people choose to keep, trash or treasure says a lot about who they are. Continue reading “Collection Processing and You: We Are All Librarians”