UCLA Information Studies: Fields of Endeavor || Featuring Jessica Gambling (LACMA)


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 coursework learned in the program and putting it to use! Our first edition features local legend Jessica Gambling.

Name: Jessica Gambling
Graduation Year: 2007
MLIS Focus: Archives and Special Collections
Title and Site: Archivist, Los Angeles County Museum of Art | Los Angeles, CA
Twitter: @LACMA

What do you do all day?
I do hands on processing like creating finding aids using Archivists’ Toolkit, uploading them to the OAC, rehousing records, and supervising interns processing records. I accession records from other departments meaning I pick up boxes of files that departments at the museum no longer need and create brief records so I can keep track of them while they wait to be more fully processed. I speak to researchers interested in using the collections and sometimes get to facilitate loaning archival materials for exhibition.

I spend a lot of time working and reworking procedures for the archives. Since the archives is new and the staff basically consists of just myself it is easy to experiment with workflow, ways to use Archivists’ Toolkit efficiently, and streamlining the accessioning process. I’m also working on creating a records management policy for the museum.

Most interesting item, record, document, etc. you have come across:
The collections here are so interesting because they run the gamut in ways they can be interesting. We have a lot of artist ephemera including a kitchen sponge with an exhibition announcement printed on it which is an interesting object. We also have the voluminous business records of the museum that in their entirety show how the work of being a museum gets done.

First personal item that you put on your desk:
I think it was my hamburger pencil case. I think I bought it for a dollar from the bookstore at LAPL when I worked as a project archivist there. It’s hard to explain, so here’s a picture:

Most frequently asked question when you tell people what you do:
“What is that?”

Most frequently asked question at work:
“Do you want this?” Often on a post-it note attached to something sent through interoffice mail. It’s usually something like a newspaper clipping or maybe even old stationary. For now, I always say yes.

Recommendation(s) for students who’d like your job:
Be flexible and be patient. Because this is the first time the museum has had an archivist for its institutional records, I need to explain why an archive is good for us over and over and why anyone would want to look at their old exhibition files over and over. It’s not reasonable to expect everyone else at the museum to care about the archives as much as I do.

One archival professional commandment you would establish:
Learn to be comfortable with chaos and disorder.

Favorite archive to visit:
That’s like asking me to choose a favorite child.

Favorite/Most memorable course from UCLA IS Department:
Metadata with Murtha Baca.

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