UCLA Information Studies: Fields of Endeavor || Featuring Sara Seltzer (UC Irvine Special Collections and Archives)

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! We are excited to feature Sara Seltzer.

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Name: Sara Seltzer

Graduation Year: 2012

MLIS Focus: Archival Studies

Job Site: UC Irvine Special Collections and Archives

Title: Archivist

 

What do you do all day?

Broadly speaking, I’m responsible for accessioning and processing materials in all collecting areas and formats, as well as maintaining and updating policies and procedures for archival administration at UCI. Primary responsibilities include reviewing finding aids to ensure compliance with our procedures, editing EAD files, and uploading them to the Online Archive of California, accessioning new acquisitions and creating minimal finding aids to facilitate discovery, and integrating recommendations outlined in the Guidelines for Efficient Archival Processing in University of California Libraries with our accessioning and processing manuals. I also serve on the department’s reference desk four to six hours a week, contribute to our social media accounts (blogs, Twitter, and Pinterest), and supervise student workers and interns working on archival projects.

 

Most interesting item, record, document, etc. you have come across:

A (purported) fragment of the scarf that strangled Isadora Duncan.

First personal item that you put on your desk:

A print of Van Gogh’s Almond Blossoms.

Most frequent response when you tell people what you do:

Most people have no idea what an archivist is. I’ve tried a few different explanations, like “fancy librarian” or “person who works with historical documents.” The best response I’ve received after giving the longer-than-usual and most accurate definition of an archivist has to be, “Oh, like Indiana Jones!” It’s so hard to burst the bubble of someone who thinks you’re that cool.

Most frequently asked question at work:

“Can I take pictures of this?”

Recommendation(s) for students who’d like your job:

Be comfortable with being a well-rounded archivist and try to gain experience with different aspects of archival administration, including processing, reference, and outreach. Don’t be afraid to envision yourself outside your comfort zone when reading the description of a potential position. And if you don’t have experience with all the required responsibilities, be sure to express an interest in learning about and gaining experience with them.

One piece of advice for recent grads on the job hunt (having to do with networking, resume, cover letter, and/or interview):

I’ll give you two.

1) The degree is just the first step in landing an archival job. It will not get you a job on its own. Employers look at your experience; that’s what sets you apart from all the other people with the same credential. Intern/volunteer and/or work as many jobs in as many places as you can before graduating, or work furiously to get that experience post-graduation if you didn’t during school. Solid experience is essential to making it in the real world.

2) Let your passion show when you interview. I can’t stress enough how critical personality is to being successful in the job search. You aren’t just being evaluated on your archival merits during an interview. Interviewers are also considering how you would fit in with the institutional culture and existing team dynamic, and want to see that you are passionate about the profession and the position. Don’t let nerves stifle your enthusiasm when it counts most.

One archival intern commandment you would establish:

Though shalt not complain about working for free.

Favorite archive to visit:

The British Library’s Sir John Ritblat Gallery.

Favorite/Most memorable course from UCLA IS Program:

Luiz Mendes’ descriptive and subject cataloging courses. Luiz is wildly entertaining and is a walking AACR2 (and probably RDA) manual. You will gain a tremendous amount of practical experience in his classes and thoroughly enjoy yourself (you’d be surprised how fun cataloging can be!). If you’re at all interested in cataloging, Luiz is the master.

 

Job or internship site while in UCLA IS Program:

I completed internships at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Getty Institutional Records and Archives, and the Balch Art Research Library at LACMA.

 

Course you wish you had taken/was offered at UCLA IS Program:

Digital Preservation. This is a critical topic to learn about, and I wish I would have devoted time to it during graduate school.

 

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UCLA Information Studies: Fields of Endeavor || Featuring Kelly A. Kolar (Middle Tennessee State University)

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! We are excited to feature Kelly A. Kolar.

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Name: Kelly A. Kolar

Graduation Year: 2004

MLIS Focus: Archival Studies

Job Site: Department of History, Middle Tennessee State University

Title: Assistant Professor, Archival Management and History

 

What do you do all day?

After finishing my MLIS I worked at The Wende Museum and Archive of the Cold War in Culver City, CA.  After a few years I returned to UCLA to pursue a PhD in Russian History with a research focus on Soviet archives.  Currently I work as a professor in the Public History program at MTSU, which trains students to work at historic and cultural institutions, including museums, historic sites, and archives.  As a professor may days vary widely, so what I do all week is:

I teach graduate seminars on archives and collections management to MA and PhD students pursuing degrees in Public History and undergraduate History courses, meet with students about their thesis or dissertation work, and work on my own research.

 

Most interesting item, record, document, etc. you have come across:

The most interesting item ever?  Off the top of my head, that is difficult to choose.  I’m sure the clear answer will come to me in a month or so.  Much of the collection at The Wende Museum documents everyday life in the Communist Bloc and my favorite items were usually those related to East German rock, LPs and magazine covers that highlighted the glory of officially approved “socialist” rock.

 

First personal item that you put on your desk:.

A six inch figure of “Misha,” the mascot of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

 

Most frequent response when you tell people what you do:

People are usually very excited to hear that I teach in a public history program, more excited than if I tell them I teach history.  Several studies have indicated that Americans trust museums as sources of information above books, professors, and the media, so perhaps this reaction is a reflection of that sentiment.

 

Recommendation(s) for students who’d like your job:

Pursue a MA or PhD in History.  If you are interested in researching and teaching about archives, but also have a passion for history, then a public history program may be the place for you.

 

One piece of advice for recent grads on the job hunt: 

Use the relationships you have developed through your internships and professional association networking to seek advice about the hiring process, resume, cover letter, etc.  Your professors are excellent educational resources, but most are fairly removed from the hiring practices in the field.  If you can talk to someone who actually does hiring, he/she may give you insight into the process that will help you prepare.

My advice for students who still have coursework: Take advantage of UCLA courses outside of the Information Studies department.  When I started the MLIS program I noticed that many of the jobs I was interested in stated a preference for applicants with two Western European languages, which I did not have.  I enrolled in German courses while I completed my MLIS.  My first job after finishing the degree at The Wende Museum and Archive of the Cold War was only possible because I could read German.  Use undergraduate classes to diversify your skills, or build an area of specialty, be it additional languages, computer science, design, etc.    

 

Favorite archive to visit:

For my own research I have mostly visited archives in the former Soviet Union, especially in Moscow.  My favorite archive to work in is the Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History (the former Communist Party archive), which is just a couple of blocks from the Kremlin in Moscow. The reading room is on the top floor with lovely views of pre-revolutionary buildings and rooftops.  I have also rarely been given microfilm there!

 

Favorite/Most memorable course from UCLA IS Program:

My most memorable course was taking part in the UCLA – St. Petersburg State Academy of Culture Student Exchange.  I spent Winter quarter of my second year in St. Petersburg conducting research for my thesis on the founding of independent library associations in the Soviet Union in the perestroika/glasnost era.  Because library education is at the undergraduate level in Russia, I was able to guest lecture to some of the classes.

 

Job or internship site while in UCLA IS Program:

University of Southern California, Specialized Libraries & Archival Collection

I did two quarters of an internship at USC working on the Felix Guggenheim Papers, a collection of a Los Angeles based German-American literary, who had extensive ties to the German literary émigré community during the World War II era and on.

 

Course you wish you had taken/was offered at UCLA IS Program:

I wish I had taken subject cataloging!  I have many times been grateful that I took descriptive cataloging and wish I had taken both cataloging courses offered.  While I was in the MLIS program I did not anticipate doing much cataloging in my career, but it has actually popped up in nearly every job I’ve held.

 

UCLA Information Studies: Fields of Endeavor || Featuring John Bultena (University of California, Merced)

bultenaSAA @ 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! We are excited to feature John Bultena.

Name: John Bultena
Graduation Year: 2012
MLIS Focus: Library Studies
Title and Site: Lecturer –
Merritt Writing Program | University of California, Merced

What do you do all day?
I lecture on and discuss writing with my students. The challenge comes in dealing with a widely diverse student population in terms of both background and fields of study. The Merritt Writing Program at UC Merced is built around the notion of developing the writing of students in such a way that they can explain their ideas to much wider audiences. This is crucial as interdisciplinary research is necessary in contemporary academics. Due to the background afforded to me while at UCLA, I can approach a wide range of topics with base level knowledge at the worse. This means I can help students bridge the gaps between their field and other fields that they may not even be aware of.

First personal item that you put on your desk:
Large cloth Blind Guardian poster.

Continue reading “UCLA Information Studies: Fields of Endeavor || Featuring John Bultena (University of California, Merced)”

UCLA Information Studies: Fields of Endeavor || Featuring Bo Doub (Center for the Study of Political Graphics)

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! We are excited to feature activist archivist extraordinaire Bo Doub from the Center for the Study of Political Graphics.

Name:  Bo Doub
Graduation Year:  2012
MLIS Focus:  Informatics
Job Title and Site:  Co-Project Archivist at the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG)

What do you do all day?
Doub_CSPGSorting
I was hired under a federal grant to (i) process and describe, on a basic folder-level, CSPG’s entire collection of over 80,000 social movement posters and (ii) catalogue on the item-level CSPG’s complete collection of Vietnam War Era posters. Since I am only two months into this job, and also because the archive is moving to Culver City this summer, the work so far has been in the “processing” phase. Processing, in this case, involves a lot of sorting of recent acquisitions and backlog to be put-away — sorting posters by geographical region, topic, and/or artist mainly. This sorting gives each poster a permanent location (in a folder in a big flat drawer in the archive) so that the drawers can be moved to the new building and the folders can later be described. Once the folder-level description is finalized, we will be able to generate an EAD collection finding aid for both in-house use and public use online and in the archive. I have also been cataloguing a lot of posters using MIMSY XG, the visual collections management software.

Most frequent response when you tell people what you do:
I try to tell people what I do in more accessible terms than just: “I’m an archivist.” Most often I probably say something like: “I sort and describe cool political art all day!” or I just tell them about the archive itself and the more recognizable institutional partners it has (where CSPG exhibits and loans its collections). People respond with blank stares and comments like, “I never even thought that would exist!” Though most everyone thinks the work sounds “really cool!” (however implausible).

Most interesting item, record, document, etc. you have come across:
I love the Cuban posters from artists and collectives like René Mederos and OSPAAAL (The Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America). A lot of these works came out of the 1960s and 70s advocating for the people of Vietnam against US imperialism and war. Continue reading “UCLA Information Studies: Fields of Endeavor || Featuring Bo Doub (Center for the Study of Political Graphics)”

UCLA Information Studies: Fields of Endeavor || Featuring Danielle Bass (NBCUniversal Archives and Collections)

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! We are excited to feature NBCUniversal Archives and Collections intern Danielle Bass.

Name: Danielle Bass
Graduation Year: 2013
MLIS Focus: Archives
Job Title and Site: Archival intern, NBCUniversal Archives and Collections*

*Note: Danielle is discussing her internship placement for winter quarter, 2013.

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What do you do all day?
My primary task at the archive is to complete a multi-year audit of the physical collection. This involves going down the storage aisles and opening every box to see what is inside and make sure that the contents match their locations in the collections management database. I get to handle props and costumes from movies and TV shows. I also have to put on my detective hat and engage in special research projects to identify what movie or TV show an object is from. In essence, this means that I get paid to watch DVDs! I’ve also had the opportunity to appraise assets from 30 Rock, set up exhibits, and do original cataloging for wardrobe from  Law and Order: Los Angeles.

Most frequent response when you tell people what you do:
When I say that I’m an archivist, I most often receive a blank stare but when I mention that I work at NBCUniversal, people get very interested. “What do you do?” “What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen?” “Meet anyone famous?” Continue reading “UCLA Information Studies: Fields of Endeavor || Featuring Danielle Bass (NBCUniversal Archives and Collections)”

UCLA Information Studies: Fields of Endeavor || Featuring Tammi Kim (University of Delaware)

tammikim_pictureSAA @ 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! We are excited to feature East Coast archivist, Tammi Kim.

Name: Tammi Kim
Graduation Year: 2011
MLIS Focus: Archives
Title and Site: Affiliate Assistant Librarian –
Manuscripts and Archives Department, University of Delaware | Newark, DE |

What do you do all day?
I am one of two project archivists hired to process the senatorial papers of Ted Kaufman and Joe Biden over the next two years. Ted Kaufman was Biden’s long-time chief of staff (1976-1995). He was specially appointed to the Senate when Biden became Vice President in 2009 and the papers from his office came to the University of Delaware after his term ended in 2011. Me and my co-archivist decided to start with his papers mainly because his collection is much, much smaller than Biden’s (pre-processing stats: 38 linear feet vs. around 2000 linear feet – congressional collections tend to get really hefty in terms of linear feet). I’ve been at this job for about two months now (and I previously worked at a political archives and research center in 2012), so most of my time right now is spent surveying every single box on the shelves to verify their contents and playing around with an Excel spreadsheet that lists box inventories for all the accessions that make up the collection. We’re also starting to sort all the data to determine potential subgroups, series, subseries, etc.

Right now we are definitely in the project planning and appraisal stage. At this point we are experimenting with various project management tools and creating lots of Gantt charts, timelines, and WBS (work breakdown structures), and estimating metrics for how long it should take us to complete specific steps of the project. Part of my job also includes working with the IT department in the library to build an electronic records workstation to accession and process the electronic records associated with the two collections. And we also know that we’re going to run into audiovisual materials from days of olde (VHS, audiocassettes, minicassettes, Umatic, etc.), so we’re also writing best practice policies and workflows for how to accession and process these formats.

Eventually someday (hopefully) we will also write the finding aid and maybe even come up with ideas on how the collection will be used for future exhibits and instruction sessions (the collection won’t be open for use until Biden has left public office for two years).  I’m also planning on coming up with a project that a graduate assistant from the Political Science department will work on and supervise him/her. And me and my co-archivist are already talking about future opportunities to potentially collaborate on a session proposal or paper about managing large hybrid collections. Right now I am just thankful that I have another peer archivist to bounce ideas off of and to manage this project. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by the volume of boxes we need to go through! Continue reading “UCLA Information Studies: Fields of Endeavor || Featuring Tammi Kim (University of Delaware)”

UCLA Information Studies: Fields of Endeavor || Featuring Kylie Harris (United Nations Joint Inspection Unit)

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! We are pleased to feature international intern Kylie Harris.

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Kylie in Rome, during a research trip for the UN

Name: Kylie Harris
Graduation Year: 2013
MLIS Focus: Archival Studies
Job Title and Site: United Nations  Internship at the Joint Inspection Unit: Archives and Records Management Evaluation in Geneva, Switzerland

What do you do all day?
It all depends on the day, but it could be anything from background research on the records and archives management policies of the different UN entities, designing questionnaires for the units responsible for archives and records management, building a survey on Survey Monkey for staff in all business units to determine actual records management practices, designing and completing tables to compare the different UN entities across a wide variety of archives and records management issues, drafting sections for the report, discussing the project with my supervisor, having team meetings with the Inspector, attending interviews with professionals in the field from the different UN entities, to going on mission with the team to conduct interviews in Rome, Paris, and Brussels.

Most frequent response when you tell people what you do:
When I tell people that I am studying library and information science, specializing in archives, they often respond by saying or asking, “Oh, how interesting…” (whilst looking quite uninterested) or, “So what do you do exactly??” or, “What made you decide to do that??” When I tell people from California about the internship in Geneva they often express excitement and surprise, but when I tell people in Geneva about my internship at the UN they just say “Oh okay, cool” or something like that. So many people in Geneva work for international organizations that to them it’s no big deal.

Most interesting item, record, document, etc. you have come across:
It may seem boring, but for me the most interesting document I worked with was the archives and records management policy document for the UN Secretariat (called the ST/SGB/2007/5). It wasn’t interesting because it’s a great or influential document, but exactly the opposite. Continue reading “UCLA Information Studies: Fields of Endeavor || Featuring Kylie Harris (United Nations Joint Inspection Unit)”