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!
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Herbaria, are instutitions that collect and preserve plant specimens from various regions. Some are international, and attempt to have comprehensive collections, while others are national, local, or more specialized. I found the process of learning about herbaria to be fun and I appreciated the experience. These collections serve as a store of reference material for researchers who can study specimens over long periods of time. Herbaria are vital to medical, and environmental research and can also serve as seed repositories for rare specimens.
My classmate, Kelsey, who serves on the board of the student chapter of the Society of American Archivists with me, was also really interested in the topic. Together we created a slide presentation you can view here: http://bit.do/herbaria. We visited the Joseph F. Rock Herbarium, here on campus, and had an excellent tour provided to us by Dr. Michael B. Thomas, the Collection Manager. He walked us through the history of herbaria, the various herbaria in Hawaii, answered questions about preservation challenges, and also showed us the process that their specimens go through once they're collected in the field and then brought back to the facility. All the photos above were taken during our site visit.
The video below, from Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, was really neat to watch as I neared the end of my research assignment about herbaria. The assignment was part of my LIS 620, Conservation of Library & Archival Materials, course, taught by Deborah Dunn.
Today, members from the UHM Society of American Archivists student chapter, went to the Hawaiian Historical Society for a stack cleaning service project. Housekeeping is important for any collection -- dusting and checking for mold and pests helps to preserve the collection, and should be done regularly.
We started out replacing burnt-out fluorescent bulbs (that were 8 feet long!) and applied UV filters to any that needed it. Some bulbs had an existing glass UV filter tube around them, which we simply slid the bulbs in and out of. The UV film sleeves, came rolled up and were wrapped around the bulbs. Read more about the damaging effects of UV light and the importance of applying UV filters to protect your collection(s), at the Northeast Document Conservation Center's website.
While dusting the collection, we checked for signs of mold, or frass (that's bug poops for you non-library peeps). We often found ourselves distracted by the awesomeness of the collection!
A big MAHALO to Nicki and Jennifer from the HHS, who were so thoughtful and fun to work with! They reimbursed anyone who drove for the cost of their metered-parking, and provided a great lunch of Chinese food, and made us take all the leftovers since they said they remembered being starving grad students. lol! I had a great time working with everyone, and such a special collection.
Last semester, my LIS 615 Collection Management class, was fortunate to have Nicholas A. Basbanes as a guest speaker. (Thanks Dr. Wertheimer!) I ordered his book, On Paper-The Everything of its Two-Thousand-Year History, that night, and thoroughly enjoyed it -- especially the parts at the end, which address the tragedy of 9/11, and paper's role. It was quite moving, and I teared-up a bit while reading it. If you're interested in librarianship or archives, I highly recommend you read this, as paper is a medium you will encounter throughout your career (despite technology). It shows how society has affected paper / manufacturing, and vice-versa. I felt a strong reverence for the medium as I read the book.
In the summer of 2014, I visited the 9/11 memorial in NYC. It was a solemn and beautiful memorial and seeing all the lives lost due to the events of that day, was heartbreaking. As I continued towards Washington DC, I asked my friend if we could stop at the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Memorial, located at the campus of the National Emergency Training Center, in Emmitsburg, MD (thanks to my Yelp app). These photos donʻt do the memorials justice...
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Dropping Mad Library Science!
Here is where I write about everything library and archives related going on.