Class Observation

As the Fortenbaugh Intern in Research and Instruction, a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to observe a couple of class research sessions which were led by some of the Research and Instruction librarians. Coming from a student perspective, I had always found these sessions informative. Each session has allowed me to become more comfortable with my major’s research guide and permits me to learn more about the various databases (shout out to JSTOR) that are available to use. In short, I have always enjoyed these sessions that are led by Research and Instruction librarians, because I am able to review what skills I have learned previously, and allow those skills to become the foundation that allows me to learn and advance my research skills.

As I sat in to watch these two class sessions, I felt like I was observing the session from a pair of different eyes. What I noticed more was the structure and organization of the information session, and how the sessions were organized. One of the aspects that I really appreciated was that each librarian attempted to find out where everyone was in their research journey – some students were familiar with concepts and certain databases while others were not. Asking the students or even allowing them to fill out a quick online survey allowed the Research and Instruction librarians to tailor their session to the needs of the students, which meant that students were able to get as much out of the session as possible.

Another aspect that I enjoyed was how the sessions allowed an opportunity to work individually as well as collaboratively in small groups. For example, a student may have been given a few minutes to look at a source to decide if it was grey literature, and then they might work in small groups of 3 – 4 to discuss their decision. Then the class might reconvene, and all the students work together to determine if the source is indeed grey literature.

In general, I believe that offering such sessions to students who are in the midst or just beginning the research journey for one of their classes is extremely helpful. Working on finding sources, on determining if its a trustworthy source, peer reviewed, primary or secondary, searching through different databases, exploring different journals, working on the organization of your paper or defining and narrowing your topic – these are just a few examples of what information sessions can cover and what the Research and Instruction librarians can assist you with!

While there are similarities shared among the research sessions as a whole, the fact that (1) each session is tailored to serve each class’s interests, (2) the librarians make each second count in the session, (3) want to make sure that you too walk away feeling that the time you spent with them was beneficial, and (4) that you feel more and more confident in your skills as a student here at Gettysburg are just a few reasons why these sessions are so valuable. (And besides, if you have any questions after your class session, you can always stop by the Research Help Desk!)

To conclude, I enjoyed shadowing a couple of information sessions and believe that by attending these sessions I have been able to understand the research process better, which not only helps me as a student but also as someone who works at the Research Help Desk! By understanding the research process better, I will be able to assist others better and more effectively as they embark on their own research journey.

The Characteristics of Cataloging

These past few weeks I have been at the Research Help Desk on my own, and while at first I was extremely nervous and a little bit intimidated, each shift at the Research Help Desk has allowed me to become more confident in my capabilities. Each question that has been directed my way has allowed me to apply the skills I have learned during training. Even if I do not know the answer, I know that the Research and Instruction Librarians are only a few meters away, and are there to help and support me as I continue my journey of being the Fortenbaugh Intern in Research and Instruction. (They have been so incredibly helpful!)

The most recent development that has occurred during my time here actually took place this week. I have always been curious about cataloging, and what it exactly entails. So this past week Kate from Technical Services took the time to lead me through a crash course on cataloging. (Kind of like a Cataloging 101.) As someone who was not extremely familiar with cataloging (I knew the definition of cataloging, was familiar with MUSCAT, and had briefly seen what Sierra looked like (the catalog system we use here at Musselman Library)) the first session with Kate was a little bit overwhelming. Who knew that there were numerous fields, sub fields, and indicator numbers? Even though at first it seemed a little terrifying, Kate was patient and took the time to go over the structure of cataloging. She also answered any questions I had. By our third session Kate allowed me the task to pick a selection of books from the “New Books Cart” and look at their entries in Sierra on my own. After examining the format, I then was able to discuss the format with her. (e.g. Does the entry look okay? Should the table of contents be added, should it be removed? Does the summary of the book need to be tweaked?)

One of the major takeaways I learned is that even though cataloging is very structured and neat, there are occasions where it is up to the discretion of the cataloger. For example, when deciding whether to add a table of contents, a cataloger has to decide if the table of contents would be helpful. If someone was looking for a book on that subject and conducted a keyword search, would they be able to find this book? Are the chapter titles clear (e.g. British Imperialism in the 19th century) or do the chapter titles include figurative speech (e.g. How the Lion and the Unicorn Conquered)? I also learned that the best way to learn about cataloging is through examples and practice. By our third session I became more confident about the evaluating entries compared to my first session. In short, I have really enjoyed cataloging, and being able to see a book’s entry in Sierra and the “finished product” entry in MUSCAT is always neat to see.

I look forward to continuing my “Cataloging 101” crash course with Kate, and continuing my journey in the vast world of cataloging.

Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You

My experience as the Fortebaugh Intern in Research and Instruction these past few weeks have flown by. By sitting on the “other side” of the Research Help Desk, and being able to interact with various people (whether that be the inquisitive college student who has a question, or librarians here at Musselman library) my perceptions of what libraries are, their purpose and function, as well as the idea and practice of librarianship have altered and allowed me to look and think about libraries in a different light.

As the title of this blog post suggests, I have become more comfortable at the Research Help Desk. Now that my training is over, I have been perusing the research guides and databases of disciplines that I was not originally familiar with, such as Art History and Chemistry. By becoming more familiar with different types of databases, and exploring them and the features that they have, I am becoming more confident in my reference skills. I have even begun answering questions and assisting those who are in the midst of their research journey. In the beginning the questions were more general, (e.g. How can I print from my laptop? Where is the writing center?) but now that the semester is underway the questions are becoming more specific (e.g. What is MLA, and did I cite this source correctly? Can I access this newspaper online? Where can I find this specific article?). I expect that as the semester continues, and as projects and papers become assigned, the questions will become even more specific and require an increased amount of time dedicated in order to answer the patron’s question.

I look forward to continuing my work at the Research Help Desk, and I am excited of the potential questions that may come my way in the next few weeks.

A Small Introduction

Hello! My name is Abigail Major, and I am the Fortenbaugh Intern in Research and Instruction for the Spring 2017 semester.

Here are a couple facts about me:

  • I’m a sophomore History major with minors in Latin, Environmental Studies and Public History.
  • I’m from Wrightstown, New Jersey which is about an hour outside of Princeton.
  • My favorite book is The Hobbit. (I’m a J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis fan!)
  • The book I’m currently reading in my spare time is Julian Fellowes’s Belgravia. (I’m a huge Downton Abbey fan but have refused to watch the sixth and final season because I don’t want it to be over!)
  • My favorite Servo cookie is the classic chocolate chip cookie!

I’ve always have had a special place in my heart for libraries. During my childhood, I spent a lot of time in the school’s library as well as my community’s. I spent so many of my lunch periods in the elementary school’s library that I became a ‘regular.’ I was eventually asked by the librarian to become a library aide, and assisted in checking in and out books, and shelving. I also was captain of the Battle of the Books team in fifth and sixth grade! Looking back at it now, those wonderful experiences instilled in me a love for libraries at a very young age.

Last year I was participated in the Center for Career Development’s Job Shadowing experience, and was able to shadow at the Library of Congress in the Geography and Map Division. It was an amazing experience, and gave me the chance to see the ‘behind the scenes’ of libraries. Having this valuable experience gave me the chance to consider a career in librarianship.

Which leads to the present: I am so excited to be able to work in the Research and Instruction! I have completed my first two weeks which consisted of training with various Research and Instruction librarians. They’re all so friendly and very helpful! I enjoyed being able to get to know each librarian in Research and Instruction, their story of how they got involved in librarianship, and their pieces of advice concerning research and instruction. Although it’s only been a couple of weeks, I have learned so much! My perspective concerning reference librarianship has changed by being behind the desk instead of in front of it. The process of research, of finding certain subjects, journal articles or specific books, is fascinating to learn about and is an invigorating challenge. Although my training is over, I know I still have much to learn during the remainder of my internship, and that makes me excited to be able to continue to learn and refine the skills I have learned so far.

Soon I will begin to work at the Research Help Desk, and help and assist those who come by the Research Help Desk, on my own. This makes me a little nervous, but I am excited too. You never know what someone will ask, and while that makes it a little bit nerve-wracking, it also inspires me to do my best and excel at the challenges that come my way.

In short, my experience as the Fortenbaugh intern in Research and Instruction has been wonderful, and I eagerly look forward to learning more about reference librarianship through real world practice (answering questions and assisting those who stop by the desk) as well as by spending time with the librarians here at Mussleman Library!

Hidden Beneath: Watermarks in the Early American Document Collection

This summer, as the Smith Intern at Special Collections, I was tasked with working on a hodge-podge of assembled documents, previously referred to as the “18th Century Document” collection.   The box’s contents had been around for just about as long as anyone could remember, and really only got exposure for the Revolutionary War classes that had class sessions through Special Collections.  Yet, as I browsed through the collection (which was really a small assemblage of papers), the box was much more than a Revolution collection.  In fact, a fair portion of the documents came from the colonial era, with a surprising amount from 1720’s Philadelphia.  When I say hodge-podge, it truly was so: some letters, court records, survey manuscripts, other administrative documents, etc. It needed some love, but I was very pleased to be working with such a breed of tangible history.  I dove into my project, trying to read the colonial script (with varying success) and getting a grasp on the content.

And then I showed the documents to Mary, our lovely conservator, to tell me more about the condition of the documents.  After all, they were quite aged and appeared so.  She held the document up to the lamp, as if by habit, and asked if I had seen the beautiful watermarks on the manuscript, to which I responded with a drawn-out “….what”.

Suddenly, a whole new dimension opened up within the collection.  I vaguely knew of watermarks, but would have never thought to seek them out.  Thankfully, Mary did.  So my next few days were rather occupied with researching these watermarks: trying to identify their maker, the source of the papermill, why they chose that design, who these people were….there were so many questions unanswered, and more questions contributed by Mary’s daily guidance.

Coat of Arms of Amsterdam, Early American Document Collection, Special Collections at Gettysburg College

Coat of Arms of Amsterdam, Early American Document Collection, Special Collections at Gettysburg College

Eventually, I began to find my answers.  My first lead came from the Internet (of course), where I discovered that the lions and X patterns were the Coat of Arms of Amsterdam.  I researched other leads from there (ensuring that it was not also the New Amsterdam crest, trying to locate domestic papermakers that used the crest, etc.) for a while more, as there were multiple copies of this watermark, but in various forms.

Clover of the Rittenhouse Mill, Early American Document Collection, Special Collections at Gettysburg College

Clover of the Rittenhouse Mill, Early American Document Collection, Special Collections at Gettysburg College

Mary, my watermark mentor, continued her help from there.  Many of the documents, tattered and brittle, had been sealed in an adhesive of which Mary did not approve.  So, she decided to teach me a lesson in rehousing.  While doing so, we opened a letter that was a few layers deep, and found a gorgeous clover watermark on one of the pages within.  As it turns out, that watermark can be traced to the Rittenhouse family, the first papermakers in the United States, who started in Germantown, Pennsylvania around 1690.  This particular piece of paper was used as an order from the Mayor of Philadelphia in the 1720’s.  Thus, we could tell that some of these papers could be quite valuable, not only for their content and age, but also for the paper itself.

I was excited to show Amy Lucadamo, our archivist, what Mary and I had discovered.  So I showed her some of the watermarks, what I had found on the contents and background, yada yada ya….until she removed what I thought was the bottom of the box, only to expose about two dozen more documents.

Klaus Rittenhouse watermark, Early American Document Collection, Special Collections at Gettysburg College

Klaus Rittenhouse watermark, Early American Document Collection, Special Collections at Gettysburg College

Two dozen more documents means probably a dozen more watermarks.  For someone full-swing into watermark joy, it was my Christmas in July.  So, when I had time, I continued to identify watermarks, and research what I could on these hidden symbols.  I knew that I wanted to publish the watermark information that I found, so I kept pounding away, attempting to source the paper and finding a little history behind the big history.  Mary and I even ordered books, by Thomas Gravell and John Bidwell, to aid further research and to get more visual help.

In total, the Early American Document Collection (as it is now called) contains 32 watermarks, on a majority of the documents within.  They will hopefully be digitized and available online, alongside the documents themselves, by the end of my internship, or if not, in the coming fall.  The choice was made that the watermark pictures should be included for the reasons I had briefly outlined above.  Watermarks can be the hidden history beneath the historic manuscript content itself.  The life of a paper can tell a story, from the inspiration behind the watermark design, to the location of the papermaker who produced it, to the far-away or nearby person who ended up using said paper.  So much more can be contributed to the dialogue of a given piece with the addition of the watermark story, the hidden layer of history.

From Professor-Student to Collaborators

Youths with Map from MF

From the “Meine Fahrten Collection”, located at Special Collections, Gettysburg College

I had not met Michael Ritterson before he visited the Conservation Lab at Special Collections, where he was having a book mended, but I had certainly heard of him. A former faculty member of the German department, Mr. Ritterson is now a German translator, taking on projects from translating the work of a 17th German woman’s study of butterflies to the poetry of a Berlin leftist written during the 1968 Movement. And, by previous contact in the mail, he had heard of me. So after Mary Wooton showed him the fully repaired book, we were formally introduced and had the opportunity to discuss his translating projects. It was more than an opportunity to chat with an interesting visitor; it was an opportunity to share talents and abilities.
In the course of the conversation, we had the opportunity to talk about some of the work I was doing for Special Collections. It was then that I sensed an opportunity for me to ask for his help. Bringing out another box, I showed Mr. Ritterson the “Hitler Youth” photo album, a collection photographs taken on youth hiking trips in the 1920s and 1930s. Also included were two sketches done by the maker of the album, one showing two boys reading a map, another depicting a lively campsite scene on a North Sea island. Both had writing in a flowing German script.
This was where I had suffered a week of difficulty. The script was Suetterlin, otherwise known as German handwriting, created by a graphic artist in Berlin around the turn of the 20th century. Like other cursive scripts it has gone out of style, so I was obligated to use a website to begin deciphering first the script, and then the idiosyncratic hand of the writer. I had puzzled out a few words and phrases, but otherwise was far from understanding the meaning of a long passage at the bottom of one of the sketches.
Mr. Ritterson spent more than a minute staring at the writing. Then he informed me that it was a poem and began to read word for word what it said. Soon, words that had stumped me for weeks became clear. Even then there were two words that remained unclear. Yet Mr. Ritterson, after his years of work on translating German poetry, puzzled through these words, making suggestions based on the structure of the poem and the context.
An hour later when I was translating the poem into English, the words were a clear hymn to the values of the German Youth Movement, a paean to the life out of doors, nationalistic and independent. The story of the album’s maker and the world in which he lived were now more accessible to future researchers.
This new situation of finding collaborators in our fields of choice is not new to us in a liberal arts college. The accessibility of professors has allowed us to build personal relationships outside of the classroom. Mentorship through independent studies and grant projects allow us to work closely with professors in an area of interest during the semester and even into summer break. Most of us are familiar with requiring letters of reference from professors for outside projects, a sign that the relationships we build today do not end when we leave the college.
Yet the dynamic begins to change once we do leave. Mr. Ritterson, while an expert, was not in the position of a professor, in charge of my grade and responsible for judging my work. Instead, he was an expert, visiting in an unofficial capacity. Unlike a student, I had, to some degree, control over the sources I was now showing him. Together, we provided each other with access to material we might have not otherwise seen or understood. In these circumstances, we became collaborators, partners working on a project, if not equal in those skills.
This collaboration has continued beyond my current internship. At the end of our conversation, I mentioned to him a book I was translating into English that included a primary document in a German dialect. He offered to read it and perhaps provide a transcription into High German. A few days ago I received his response. He had translated much of it, but was still uncertain about some of the words. In order to clarify them, he offered the names of several institutions where I might find additional help, but where he no longer knew anyone. This is an opportunity for mutual help for years to come.

The Fortenbaugh in a Music Education Context

This past weekend I attend the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) Annual Conference in Hershey, PA. Along with the rest of my music education program here at Gettysburg College I went on a two day trip the Hershey Lodge to attend professional sessions, network with in-service teachers and administrators, and walk the music education marketplace. Now that I am back it is time to begin work putting together my library research guide geared towards helping others involved in music education and I have new insights to consider.

In building my research guide I am keeping several items in mind: music education repertoire, professional development, accommodating a diverse classroom, methodologies and teaching strategies, etc. A section of my guide will address the first item; with the help of student workers in the conservatory as well as my adviser, Dr. Talbot, there will be a list of all the repertoire (song books, music games, method books, etc.) available in the music ed classroom in Schmucker Hall. This list will function as a general reference list and organizational guide for building age-appropriate classroom repertoire. With regards to professional development, the second item, there will be links to professional development events and certification programs in different teaching methodologies, etc. to inform music educators on how to better their own knowledge. For accommodating diverse students there will be a variety of sources from teaching students with IEPs to creating dialogue and a safe environment to address social issues. Finally, for teaching strategies and methodologies, the final item, I plan to provide sources for the different teaching methods (Kodaly, Orff, Sezuki, Dalcroze, etc.) to better inform music educators on the many different ways students can be engaged in music learning.

I am grateful to have had such a great experience in my internship thus far. I have learned a great deal about my own teaching ideologies through the process of organizing different resources necessary to be a successful music teacher.

On the Web-WorldCat, Digital Publications, and New Editions

Hi everyone!

I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the warmer weather!  Despite the real arrival of spring and sun, the Reference Desk is expecting a huge pick-up in the library and in citation and research questions as we move towards the end of the semester and the due dates for final research papers.

Apart from regular work at the Desk, I am still working on the Collection Development Project, now in the online section of the project.  I’ve been working a lot with MUSCAT and WorldCat, trying to discover how many copies of the Parkin books are available in other libraries and to see how rare each book is.  Some of the books could only be found in ten or so other libraries worldwide!

After finding out how many other copies were available and making sure they were the same edition, I looked through Hathi Trust and Internet Archive for links to digitized publications of the books.  Hathi Trust and Internet Archive are great sites for giving the public access to older books, specifically books that are out of print and no longer under copyright law.  Hathi Trust can provide a multitude of contemporary reactions to events like World War I or the Spanish-American War for interested scholars.  In our collection development, we were looking to see if Parkin’s books could be found in digital publication in order to make a decision about moving rarer books upstairs into Special Collections.

Finally, I move onto searching for the books through Amazon.  Amazon is very much a “buyer-beware” for collection development; many of the offered copies for these older books are cheaply produced print-outs of the digital publications.  On Amazon, I have to look for later editions of these books and avoid the digital reprints and other first edition copies.

Collection development often feels like a balancing act.  Older and unused books take up space on the shelves and some of these books are damaged and would be safer in Special Collections.  However, we still want to keep these books accessible to the patrons and so we look for digital publications or new editions in order to do so.

After the Collection Development Project, I will be working with Alexa on the Finals Week Study Break!  Everyone should come (there will be free ice cream!) to de-stress and catch a breath from studying for final exams!

“Weeding…It Isn’t Just For Gardens.”

Hi all!

Sorry, I haven’t posted in a while; I’ve been holding out until I got to the finishing stages of the Collection Development project.  Yes, that’s right, for the past couple of weeks, when I was pacing up and down the stacks on the second floor, I was not actually going crazy.

The project was designed for me to look through the collection of older books on World War I and find books donated by Major Harry Parkin.  Many of the books donated by Parkin were broad historical surveys or memoirs by participants.  Curiously, some of the books he donated were marked up, either with pasted in book reviews or with Parkin’s own assessment.  Parkin’s marginalia is incredibly interesting as he either praises books as “first-class war novels” or derides them as “unimportant.”  As presumptuous as it might sound, I begin to gain an understanding of who Major Parkin was through his choice in books and his scribbling.  A product of early 20th century race relations, Parkin wrote in a book on black soldiers in WWI that it only proves “the negro soldier led by the white officer is first class, led by the negro officer he is simply no good.”  Parkin’s donations offer insight as to how soldiers of the war responded to the subsequent early WWI literature.12884483_10205102975127904_1856331460_n

Now, the project drives us to decide which books to retain in the main collection, which to potentially move off-site, and which to move up to Special Collections.  The process is called “weeding” and can almost be considered a consistent and continuous house-cleaning that never really ends.  Looking at how else the books might be available, through Interlibrary Loan, through databases like Hathi Trust, or through Amazon, we have to decide what would be most helpful to our patrons.


It’s been a long project but as we look to complete this one, Alexa, Mallory, and I are already looking forward to planning the Spring Finals Week Study Break!

-Jake Farias

Perusing the Stacks: Cataloging Music

This week and last I have been learning about some of the basics of cataloging. While the cataloging of books is often fairly straight forward, such is not case with music. There are some extra, important bits of information that make a big difference in cataloging and finding musical works.

When it comes to finding a book, most people can stop at the title and author (maybe even just the title!) and find what they are looking for. With music, however, a piece of music can have different transcriptions, arrangers, publishers, or score size, all of which have varying effects on the music. In practicing cataloging I came across a piece called Air. In looking further I noticed that not only was a composer listed, but a transcriber as well. It turns out the piece I was assigned to catalog for cello and piano was not the original version and it was actually written for violin and piano a year earlier. In this case in particular, it would be important for a musician to know what instrumentation the piece is for and whether or not other editions are available. Another way in which music cataloging involves that extra step is when it comes to different publishers. If one were to pick up two different copies of To Kill a Mockingbird by two different publishers, chances are the story itself would be the same word for word. With different music publishers, on the other hand, there could be differences in accidentals (whether a note is sharp or flat), articulations, phrasing, dynamics, cadenzas (little show off-y, soloistic sections), and even rhythm and pitch. It is not uncommon for publishers to add their own artistic input to a piece of music or to interpret it a different way. It is not likely you will have a book publisher decide to change the end of Where the Red Fern Grows. 

While music and all its extra ins and outs makes cataloging a bit more in-depth, as a musician who has been sent by my private teachers to “peruse the stacks” it feels I am doing a service for all those other musicians out there looking to make music.