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IMG_0300Well, this is it.

It’s my last day.

Today I get to turn in my key, submit my last time sheet, and clean up all my files on the computer, and I have to take home my sweater, wrist warmers, blanket, and refillable Einstein Bros. coffee mug . . .  plus say goodbye to probably the coolest job ever and all the wonderful people I’ve worked with.

The Archives and Special Collections has been an oasis for me through the grueling voyage of undergrad – tucked in the corner of the library, above the crowded sidewalks and away from the drama and stress of school.

I started here the summer after my sophomore year, after miserably spending the previous summer as a waitress. I began as a temporary hire for Sarah, allotted 120 hours to put in basically whenever, doing a lot of photo identification and negative-sleeve making. But I also got to work with Jim Legg’s collection of slides from Wounded Knee during the volatility of the 1970s (wow!).

When the fall semester started, Doris adopted me from Sarah. I began to make box labels instead of negative sleeves, pull boxes for patrons, make inventory lists of incoming collections, take the recycling down, and pick up the mail. Sure, a lot of my job involved removing rusty staples (yes, my tetanus shots are up-to-date), spending hours at the temperamental photocopy machine, and leafing through old Volante newspapers or yearbooks for an answer to a patron’s question.




However, I did some pretty amazing things here, too. Simply working with the Mahoney Music Collection was a dream! – how did my two favorite things in the world, books and music, end up combined in the back of the USD library? Though I couldn’t work exclusively with this collection, there was almost always a little project with it to satiate me. Writing press releases, creating a LibGuide, managing the website records, creating little exhibits, helping patrons, and writing blog posts were just a few things. I was invited to just go back and browse the stacks if I wanted, to get to know the books, and I got to correspond with the donor, Dr. John P. Mahoney, and even meet him this summer! I met a lot of great books, too. And who knows?  – maybe I’ll be back in a few years to do my own research with the collection.




The archives have forever changed me. Now I can’t bring myself to use staples or tape on anything, and I have a mission to preserve all my photos in acid-free paper. I learned so much that I don’t think I can fit it all on a résumé. And, thanks to Sarah, I’ll never be able to listen to Kishi Bashi or Van Morrison without nostalgia of the archives. I will sorely miss everything and everyone here – how did I get so lucky?

So what’s next? I have a couple more days in sunny Vermillion, then it’s off to Ohio, where I’ll be attending grad school for my master’s degree in music performance at Kent State (they have an Einstein Bros. too, so the mug comes with!).



P.S. For the record: I never got the lights turned off on me in the back room. Once the power went out when I was back there, though, and the terrifying flickering before tipped me off.



P.P.S. And my desk piggy’s coming, too! 🙂



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Summer projects in the archives can be tedious, monotonous, and seemingly endless. Luckily (this time) I got something fun . . .

The expansive Mahoney Music Collection is slowly being cataloged by the University library, and much of what is yet uncataloged lives in file cabinets and is simply called “Mahoney pamphlets” — though most items are small or fragile books that aren’t safe on the shelf.

This summer, I have had the pleasure to spend quality time with these lonely books as I update their records on the Mahoney website. Until the remainder of the collection is cataloged, the website is the only source to see all 5000-plus items. It is very important, then, that our web records are accurate, especially for the books that aren’t yet in the library’s catalog system.

Also stored in the pamphlets are small articles in magazines like Harper’s Weekly, Life, Scribner’s, Smithsonian, and People; concert programs from around the world; oversized monographs of antique, rare instruments by Stradivari or Amati with enormous photographs; instrument dealer catalogs and ephemera from the last 200 years; sheet music and method books both old and new, sometimes accompanied by vinyl recordings; and beautifully illustrated children’s books.

The majority of books in the pamphlet collection are written in foreign languages, ranging from German and Italian to Japanese and Catalan. Translating information made my job slow sometimes but nonetheless fun (Google Translate is my new best friend). I certainly learned a lot more Italian, German, and French vocabulary, and just by reading titles and bits here and there I learned a lot of history, too.

In the end, I went through around 930 items over the course of 2 months. For a summer project, this certainly was the best.

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