Collection Development and Plans for the Future!

Hello everyone,

It’s finally starting to feel like spring, and I’m finally starting to develop my final project for my internship! So much has happened in the past few weeks; I’ve had the opportunity to observe a music class that was writing a musical and I’ve been focusing on collection development for an Afrofuturism collection. Collection development was actually much more difficult than I had anticipated, especially since Afrofuturism is such a timely and emerging genre. In the few weeks since I began the project, a handful of new Afrofuturism titles have been published to much acclaim, and even older books that had been difficult to find began new printings. I don’t think I’ve ever explored a genre that had such exponential publishing growth on a daily basis!

For my final project, I’m really interested in exploring how foreign language works are catalogued and accessed at Musselman. By browsing through MUSCAT, I’ve found that search terms don’t always work properly with foreign language titles, and many catalogues are likely to give you English works even when you are searching for foreign language titles. As a student with a foreign language minor, I dream of making these titles easier to access, as well as creating a research guide where professors can suggest different titles based on reading level. Hopefully we can give out foreign language collections a little more love!

Until next time,
Elli Vega

Research Help Desk and Class Observation

Hello again!

As of today, I’ve officially been alone on the Research Help Desk for two weeks! At first it was a little intimidating, but by using the research and citations guides I’ve been able to handle every questions I’ve gotten so far. During my desk shifts, I’ve also been studying readings about ebooks, collection, and weeding, as well as getting better acquainted with the databases. I decided to study databases that were in disciplines that I hadn’t encountered in my academic career, so I spent a lot of time in resources like Bio1 and LexisNexis. My favorite database that I’ve found so far has probably been DAPL, which can be difficult to search, but has many museum like exhibitions that provide unique insights into American History.

Today is also the day that I’ve observed my first library session. I decided to observe an environmental science class, which exposed me to the Environment Complete database and the PLOS One citation style. The library session was well balanced between group instruction and research time, and much of the session focused on refining search terms so that students got results specific to the subject they’re researching. Next week, I’ll be observing a music class, so I’m excited to see what that holds in store.

Until next time,
Elli Vega

Hello again!

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last update! The fall semester flew by so quickly and now I’m finding myself serving on the Holley Intern Search Committee…..meaning that my internship is almost over.

With that in mind, I wanted to give a quick update on my thoughts from the fall semester, during which time I worked half-days in Technical Services and Research and Instruction. All in all, I was [pleasantly] surprised. When I first heard that I would be rotating through Technical Services and Research and Instruction at the same time, I thought my work in both departments would be unrelated. I mean, Technical Services sounds like it involves behind-the-scenes technical work, while Instruction sounds like a whole lot of interactive teaching…right?

Well, kind of. My work in both departments did run the gamut from working with collections, to working with databases, to working one-on-one with students. But I was surprised to find that working somewhat “behind the scenes” in Technical Services made me a better teacher. Because I learned about the different ways the library purchases materials, I can explain why we do/don’t have certain materials in our collection. If a student is perplexed about how to find something on the shelf, I can explain how materials are cataloged and how this affects where they live. And because I understand how a link resolver works, I can help students see how the “Gett it” button, for example, connects them to the resources they need. Working in Technical Services filled in some of the technical-knowledge gaps I took for granted when working with students, and has allowed me to better explain why the library works the way it does.

My experience this fall illustrates why the Holley Internship’s structure is so fantastic. Taken separately, these rotations have given me specialized knowledge of one particular area of librarianship and have made me an excellent future cataloger or teacher. But taken together, the rotations have done much more than prepare me to enter the workforce. They’ve exposed the underlying anatomy of the library, the larger structure connecting each department’s workflows and responsibilities. It’s been a joy figuring out how each puzzle piece fits together, especially those which look so different at first glance.

A Short Introduction

Hello everyone! I’m Elli Vega, and I’m the new Fortenbaugh Intern for the Spring 2018 semester.

I’m a sophomore English w/ Writing Concentration and Women and Gender Studies Major, as well as a Japanese minor. When I was growing up, my public library was a place of refuge and exploration, but it I didn’t exactly consider a profession in the library sciences until recently. As I grew from a book-devouring child to a book-devouring teenager, I realized I was beginning to fall out of love with libraries, and I couldn’t exactly pen why. When I examined the root of my sudden falling out, I found a strange answer; my public and high school libraries didn’t have a very diverse catalog that represented my interest, and the protagonists and authors inside their books weren’t exactly reflective of who I was. But thankfully, that all changed when I came to college, and my love for the architecture and catalogue of Musselman Library was actually one of the reasons I chose to come here!

Last semester, I became increasingly enamored with the possibilities of working within archival science. During a Queer Theory course I took, we spoke about the importance of archiving queer history so that it will not be allowed to fall by the wayside. I feel like my place in library science is to help document and archive the history of minority communities in America so that their experiences don’t become lost, and hopefully, one day, history books and popular narratives will focus on an intersectional portrayal of American history. Over the course of the semester, I’ll hopefully be creating a project that addresses these themes, and I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

But I’m not always taking myself so seriously! I spend most of my free time with my baby cat Caleb, who is almost a year old now, and I am a poet and Nintendo RPG addict. I also love working on The Mercury magazine on campus, and my favorite place to be is the Poetry Circle at Waldo’s downtown.

So if you’re looking to say hi, you can meet me at the Research Help Desk, where I’ve been learning to answer any research question under the sun. I might be still learning, but I’m definitely up for a challenge. I mean, the best way to learn is through experience, so bring me any and all inquiries you can think of. I’ve also been lucky enough to work with some amazing librarians during my training and at the desk here, and they’ll also definitely be able to figure out your questions.

I promise to keep you updated,
Elli Vega

A Brief Introduction

Hello!

My name is Kayla Morrow and I’ll be the Barbara Holley Intern for 2017-2018. Amidst all of the excitement in Special Collections this summer, I’ve failed to properly introduce myself.

I’m a 2017 graduate of a small liberal-arts college named Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. I double majored in English and Philosophy and was fortunate to have two archival internships at the Mount during my senior year. I had never considered a career in archival science before this point—in fact, I don’t think I knew what archival science even was—but I fell in love with my work at the Mount’s library. Nearing graduation, I decided that I wanted to pursue either a general MLIS or a library science degree with a specialization. But, as I soon realized, picking a MLIS program, let alone a concentration, is beyond difficult when you have so little experience in the library field. Luckily, I stumbled upon an ad for the Holley internship just up the road in Gettysburg. While the Holley position sounded almost too good to be true (they pay you to learn?! I’ve been doing it wrong…) it is an amazing opportunity and has proved to be a great fit so far.

Tomorrow I will finish my first internship rotation in Special Collections, where I have completed a few exciting projects (updates soon to come!). I’ve already learned so much and am looking forward to my upcoming time in the Scholarly Communications Department starting Monday, August 7.

Until next time.

Kayla

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.