SAA @ UCLA presents “UCLA Information Studies: Fields of Endeavor.” The Fields of Endeavor series introduces UCLA Library and Information Studies program graduates and current interns who are out in the field taking knowledge learned in the program and putting it to use! Please welcome our first interns on the series, Danielle Ball and Jennifer Maiko Kishi!
Names: Danielle Ball and Jennifer Maiko Kishi
Graduation Year: 2013 (expected)
MLIS Focus: Ball, Archives; Kishi, Archives and Informatics
Internship Title and Site: Archives Intern, Yosemite National Park Archives | El Portal, CA
What do you do all day?
Ball: I’ve been working on two different collections. One is the Yosemite Slide Collection, which is estimated to have 100,000 35mm slides. With that I am arranging and rehousing the slides, and creating descriptions for the finding aid. I also work quite a bit in the catalog of digitized slides. The other collection is the manuscript collection of Joseph Dixon, who did field research for the National Parks in the early 20th century. This collection has so far entailed arranging and rehousing glass lantern slides, glass plate negatives, film based negatives, prints, and documents. I am now somewhat of an expert at distinguishing between acetate and nitrate negatives, and prepping them for cold storage. Right now the lead archives technician and I are working on completing descriptions and cataloging, at which point this collection will be fully processed—so we are really aiming toward finishing before I leave.
Kishi: I recently processed the Yosemite Slide Collection’s Interpretive Programs subseries from the 1960s to the 1990s. The extent of this subseries alone is over 2,700 slides, which is only a small fraction of a much larger and extensive collection. My other collection is the “I Remember Yosemite” Oral History Project, an ongoing and evolving collection which began in 2007. The focus of this collection is to capture and document the stories of current and former Yosemite National Park Service employees who have dedicated much of their lives to work at Yosemite and have served to shape and influence the park. I have been managing and processing the born digital film and transcript records for long-term archival storage and preservation through rehousing, data migration, and descriptive metadata. I have also been involved in various discussions on best practices and standards for revising and updating the existing Digital Asset Management Plan.
Most interesting item, record, document, etc. you have come across:
Ball: The Joseph Dixon collection has so many great images of wildlife in the western United States. Just today I found a picture of a deer smiling—bared teeth and all. No joke.
Kishi: The Yosemite Archives has historic film footage from “Yosemite: Valley of Enchantment” (c. 1950s) of the Firefall, a tradition which took place from 1872 to 1968 of pushing hot embers from Glacier Point. The film footage serves as a reminder of the park’s not so distant past, as well as the many changes that have occurred since to better preserve Yosemite’s natural resources. This particular Firefall footage made by the Yosemite Park and Curry Company and was used by National Park Service as a promotional film to encourage visitors to come to Yosemite.
I also love all the beautiful flora and fauna photographs from the Joseph Dixon collection. Here’s a few of my favorites.
Recommendations for students who’d like your internship:
Ball: Just take advantage of the opportunity! It can be daunting to leave LA and go live in relative isolation for 11 weeks. But I think you can learn so much by focusing full-time on your fieldwork. My archival experience has been richer from being immersed in the culture of the National Park Service. Also, my knowledge of Yosemite history has increased exponentially while living here, which of course helps in the work I do.
Kishi: I absolutely agree with Danielle. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions if you need clarification or would like to know more about something that interests you. The staff is always friendly and welcoming here and will go above and beyond to help you with your archival needs and concerns! And be prepared to live and work in a remote location. The Yosemite Archives is located just outside the western entrance to the park, nestled between the majestic Sierra Mountains. Plan for a lot of mountain driving, home cooking, and quiet evenings, as well as wild animal sightings, starry nights, and plenty of time to explore the park and hit the trails on your day off! Here’s a view of my fifteen minute walk to the internship.
One archival intern commandment you would establish:
Ball: Thou shalt become accustomed to wearing latex gloves every day.
Kishi: Thou shalt be prepared for perpetual cool temperatures by wearing multiple layers at all times.
Favorite/Most memorable course from UCLA IS Department:
Ball: Preservation of Heritage Materials with Snowden Becker
Kishi: History of the Book with Johanna Drucker and Metadata with Murtha Baca
Course you wish you had taken at UCLA IS Department:
Ball: Archival Description. I have been writing a lot of descriptions in Yosemite!
Kishi: Digital Preservation; Environmental Protection of Collections for Museums, Libraries, and Archives; Collections Development; Digital Humanities; and the Letterpress Lab.