I said I'd tell you what I did this summer at Smithsonian Libraries, and here it is in the blog post they asked me to write for them. :)
I finally learned how it feels to be "on cloud 9" when I got the notification from the Smithsonian Institution (SI) that I'd been appointed to an internship with Smithsonian Libraries this summer; and would be working under the direction of their head of Web Services, Joel Richard. Through the SI Minority Awards Program (MAP), I was awarded a paid, 10-week internship this summer. While the application process did not allow me to choose my project I felt the project I was given fit my background given my previous career working in IT.
The project I'm assigned to is: "Applying Standardized Identifiers to Library Data" which is much of what I've been doing on a couple of my projects. I'm currently serving-out the last 4 weeks of my time here and it's definitely been an amazing experience. I've worked on 3 different projects so far, and will write more about them in a separate post. My 4th, and final project hasn't started yet.
In my last weeks here I'll be required to give a presentation to both Smithsonian Libraries and the SI OFI along with the other 13 MAP recipients. I'll also be doing some blog posts for Unbound--the Library's blog--and writing an essay for the OFI's MAP.
Time has been flying by and I'm bittersweet about leaving here. I'm going to miss the lifestyle and all the attractions DC holds with its museums, monuments, architecture, and events. I've been grateful for the wonderful staff members, special tours and activities, and the entire experience of living in a place very different from home. Currently, I reside in Silver Spring, MD, and commute on the WMATA Metro, (taking over an hour each way). I actually enjoy riding the metro and the large amounts of walking I'm doing up here (where I hit about 200K steps in a week).
I've discovered I truly am comfortable with myself and enjoy doing things alone as much as I do when in good company. I've had fun with Travis, who moved up here a year ago, and try to hang out on Fridays for pau hana with Keala--my classmate who also got a MAP internship and is up here working with Freer | Sackler. My office is located in the National Museum of Natural History. It's pretty wild!
One of the inspirations for enrolling in library school came about in the summer of 2014 when I realized how much I wanted to somehow work in a place like the Smithsonian. A very awesome friend recommended library science to me and I seriously started to consider it. Then, I had a chance encounter I with the screenwriter who co-wrote "Life" and "Intolerable Cruelty." He was super cool and told me about his archivist friend who had an MLIS degree and was the archivist for the Baseball Hall of Fame. I came back to Hawaii and immediately applied to the LIS program at UH. It was my dream then to intern with the Smithsonian before graduating, and this summer my dream came true. It's certainly been a life-changing experience and I'm so happy and thankful for this amazing opportunity!
Soulful Eyes: The Identification of Kalaupapa Residents in Photographs Taken by Fr. Joseph Julliote, SS.CC., 1901-1907
This afternoon I attended a public talk which shared the details of a special program sponsored by Congregation of the Sacred Hearts U.S. Province, the Hawaii Council for the Humanities, Damien and Marianne Foundation, Ka ʻOhana O' Kalaupapa and IDEA Center for the Voices of Humanity. The program entailed taking archival photographs of residents in Kalaupapa, and attempting to identify them. The Kalaupapa peninsula, located on the island of Molokaʻi, was where people afflicted with Hansen's disease were sent to live out their days. Through outreach with the community, author Anwei Law and archivist Stuart Ching, have worked through 800+ glass plate negatives, of which approximately 300 involve people. This project attempts to identify the residents captured in the images taken by Fr. Joseph Julliote, SS.CC., between 1901-1907. In addition to its cultural and historical value, the project is also a service to the residents themselves, as well as their desendants who (in some instances) had never seen a photo of their relatives before. The photos were superb, and showed residents of many different ages in an assortment of beautiful clothing poised with dignity and grace. It was unlike anything I would have imagined about Kalaupapa from the limited knowledge I had going into this.
I enjoyed hearing about the sleuthing being done -- comparing facial features as well as expressions, and knowing some of the subjects were aging in the photos, or had changes in appearance due to their illness. Anwei remarked it was easier at times to distinguish women due to their unique hairstyles, or manner of dress. She also mentioned trying to examine writing seen in a photo on a blackboard with other documented handwritings as a means of trying to identify one man, which I thought was really neat.
Access issues: Allowing glass plate negatives to be digitized: The act of digitization itself allowed access, and also made it easier to examine photos without having to handle originals. Further, the images will be catalogued and input into a database. There are questions about how much of this should be publicly accessible, and those issues are still being examined from the sound of it. I really enjoyed this talk today.
On Saturday, April 2nd, I had the pleasure of working at the Hawaiian Historical Society again. I'm grateful to both the UHM Society of American Archivists student chapter, as well as the HHS for organizing these service projects for us. We worked with books from the John Plews Estate, which were donated. These were volumes of Cook's Voyages. We carefully brushed each page of the previously frozen volumes, and used microfiber cloths dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove any remaining mold. Holding the pages in the sun even briefly dried the alcohol in seconds. It was a nice time, and I have to mahalo Nicki Garces, and Jennifer Higa at the Hawaiian Historical Society!
Chromebooks have been out for a while now, and I finally found myself purchasing one last week at Best Buy since my (not-so-trusty) macbook pro retina is, once again, in the shop.
Enter the Samsung Chromebook 2. Limited by choice (we only have Best Buy and WalMart in Honolulu), and finances (broke college student), I found myself in need of a backup laptop that was: affordable, portable, and reliable. Best Buy had a display table with 6 chromebooks on it. After putting my grubby little hands on all of them, and comparing the specs across them, I felt like the only one that wouldn't drive me insane was the 11.6" Samsung Chromebook 2. ($199). The rest of the Chromebooks felt really cheaply/shoddily constructed. Yes, my display kind of sucks, but it's good for what I need, which is note-taking and Internet browsing. Thankfully, I have a Best Buy credit card from the old days (when I worked full time) so I could easily purchase it with the option to pay it interest-free in 6 months. (As a note they do price-matching with Amazon.com if the product is sold by Amazon and not a third-party seller.)
One of my hobbies is lifelong learning. I'm currently enrolled as a full time graduate student in the LIS program at UH Manoa, and also tackling an Intro to Drawing, studio art course at Kapiolani Community College, with Professor Kloe Kang. It's a lot of work -- taking about 8-10 hours out of my schedule each week. We're trying to draw in a very realistic style in this course. We've been working on a still life for two classes this week, and I have about 2 or 3 more hours I think I need to sink into it. I'm finding drawing to be very analytical, and it feels like new neurons truly are being created as I strain my brain on some of my pieces. One reason I want to be an academic librarian in the UH system someday, is so I can take classes for free, and earn a second advanced degree.
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The Fall 2015 semester is over, and it was my second, and also most interesting semester in the program due to a couple of factors: 1) I took 4 classes, which is 1 more than the recommended full-time load of 3, and 2) I learned a lot of practical and professional lessons this semester.
I enrolled in 4 courses since I calculated I could graduate one semester earlier if I toughed it out and did 4 classes this fall. I'm happy to say I somehow managed to keep my streak up, and still have a 4.0 G.P.A., which I honestly did not think was going to happen at many points during this stressful semester. For as much work as it was, I thrive in situations of high-pressure, so I knew in my heart I would miss it, even as I sometimes cursed it. lol! I gained 8 lbs., so it was lucky I had dropped to an all-time, adult-low weight over the summer, so it's not a big deal that I gained some weight back ... I do plan to lose it again. I believe my physical health goes hand-in-hand with my mental health, and having taken care of people with disabilities and chronic illness in my personal life, I intend to do my best to stay healthy for as long as possible. Despite all the assignments and work, I also tried to maintain some exercise in the form of weight training and cardio, regularly. I had to cut the length and frequency of my workouts to focus on assignments, and the rainy weather prevented me from walking the ~2 miles to school and back home. Once Halloween hit, my grad school diet became loaded with junk food, holiday food, class parties, work parties, and family parties. I am not complaining, however, I kinda just ate everything some days. lol! Stress eating, or eating to stay awake some nights. Being a student again after being a professional is a lot easier, but more time-consuming in many ways. I'm loving the LIS program. The course content is so interesting, and it ties in nicely with my former career in IT as a system administrator. I feel that my professional experience has often helped me with coursework in grad school, and definitely helped in all my courses this semester, especially 601, and 610.
Here are some highlights from each course this semester:
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On Saturday, November 7th, our LIS 652 Archives Management class had the good fortune of being allowed a private tour of Doris Duke's Shagri La - Center for Islamic Arts and Cultures, led by archivist, Dawn Sueoka. Doris Duke, was an heiress and philanthropist, who traveled the world and learned about different cultures. In her travels, she also collected an amazing array of Islamic art. Upon entering, we were greeted with intricate layers of artwork embedded in the ceiling, walls, furniture, light fixtures, and all the spaces we occupied. As we wandered through the courtyard next, we could see how careful landscaping also added to the beauty of the estate.
We learned from Dawn about some of the preservation challenges of having open-air areas within Hawaii's tropical climate, bordered by the Pacific Ocean and its salty spray ... all beautiful, but also notoriously bad for collections. What was interesting to note, was they discovered the objects seem to have adjusted -- in fact, in the case of some composite objects e.g. objects made with wood and mother of pearl inlay, and other materials, if the object was placed in "ideal" temperature and RH settings, it would cause some of the pieces to pop out as the materials expanded or retracted in a controlled environment. So, in a sense the environment works well for some of the objects. We learned there are visiting interns and conservators who work on different environmental challenges within the estate. An example we could see, was in the foyer, upon initial entry, where the ceiling which was comprised of beautiful designs painted and carved / gilded in wood, which we were told an intern spent time working on this past summer. Read this awesome blog post about it for more detail.
Each room we saw, was decorated in an original way, showcasing different themes and art. One treat, was also having the opportunity to "meet" Hermione Granger, the large drop-freezer recently acquired to freeze some of the items in the collection that had pest issues. Hermione sits outside the textile room, where Dawn had set up some interesting archival objects for us to view. The room was cooled, and the papers we saw showed preliminary drawings of the estate, photographs, and other interesting papers. Dawn mentioned it's been useful to have the records on-hand, so they can track how things were done. She also pointed out the importance of respect des fonds, and keeping the Hawaii records with the estate here, and how integral it has been to referencing issues with the estate.
A big Mahalo goes out to Dainan Skeem, our instructor for Archives Management, for securing this amazing opportunity for our class. I've been thoroughly enjoying the curriculum offered by the LIS program at UH Manoa, and especially the archives track courses!
Dropping Mad Library Science!
Here is where I write about everything library and archives related going on.