UCLA Information Studies: Fields of Endeavor || Gloria Gonzalez (UCLA Library Special 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 Gloria Gonzalez.



Name: Gloria Gonzalez

Graduation Year: 2013

MLIS Focus: Archival Studies

Job Site: UCLA Library Special Collections

Title: Digital Archivist

Gloria at the 2014 Society of California Archivists Annual Meeting reception at Sunnylands Center and Gardens. The desert setting called for a white wine spritzer.

What do you do all day?

I manage digitization projects and digital archives in UCLA Library Special Collections. I report to Jillian Cuellar, the Head of Digital Initiatives and the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT). Together we work to streamline digitization project management. We also create plans, policies, and procedures for digital archives (this includes anything received on or via digital media).

Most of my time is spent on the A-level of the Charles E. Young Research Library at UCLA, but I meet with colleagues and faculty all over campus. My calendar’s dynamic and my days are fast-paced, which I enjoy.When I’m not in a meeting, you can find me processing digital materials, teaching, researching, testing new tools, documenting projects, or working with the Digital Library’s new management system, Islandora.

I also oversee a group of students who work on a range of projects in the CFPRT. One MLIS grad student works to update finding-aids and draft processing guidelines for collections with digital media, and another is in the midst of a case-study for archiving Twitter accounts. A few graduate students select content for scanning and analyze copyright risk. I also teach undergrads how to scan materials and create metadata. I found my archival career path as undergrad scanning tech at the University of Mississippi, so that part of my job feels very “circle-of-life.”

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

Some of the most intriguing material I’ve come across are digital audio files from collection of wire recordings. The wire recordings document Sacramento concerts during the first American tour of Japanese musicians after World War II. Without knowing what the wires contained, an A/V hobbyist in Canada purchased the recordings off of eBay in 2008. He digitized them, cleaned up the sound, and discovered the music. I love the elements of mystery and obsolescence, but my favorite part is the Tokyo Boogie Woogie!

First personal item that you put on your desk:

Si Se Puede

The “Si Si Puede” poster I got during a visit to Keene, California in October 2012 at President Obama’s dedication of the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument. I attended the dedication with a team of students that I worked with to create detailed plans for an archive at the National Chavez Center (as part of Anne Gilliland’s American Archives and Manuscripts class). The poster reminds me to enjoy the fruits of labor.

Si Se Puede | Yes We Can, a token from the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument Inauguration

Most frequent response when you tell people what you do:

Oh cool! My son/brother-in-law/niece/teacher/neighbor/dentist/grandfather/godmother/pastor’s daughter went to UCLA!

Most frequently asked question at work:

I’m most frequently asked about scanning, metadata, and copyright. It’s been interesting to see questions get more complex as our documentation develops.

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

If you fear the unknown, or the command line, you should probably look into other jobs.

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

Think of your resume as a sampler plate, instead of an all-you-can-eat buffet of accomplishments. Give a good taste of what you’ve got, but save the best parts for the cover letter and interview. Start preparing to negotiate salary and benefits while applying for positions, and keep the salary you want in mind (not a range of pay).

One archival intern commandment you would establish:

Watch, listen, and remember: it is management all the way down.

Favorite archive/library to visit:

The Library of Congress! I spent a magical summer working as a Junior Fellow there right before moving to LA for grad school. The behind-the-scenes access rocked my world. I tried to leave no stone unturned—from the poet laureate’s office, to the Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation—but still left wanting more.

Job or internship site while in UCLA IS Program:

I worked at UCLA Library Special Collections (LSC) during my time in the program. I processed collections from the June L. Mazer lesbian archives in the Center for Primary Research and Training for the first year. Then I processed new accessions as an archival assistant for the Head of Collection Management, and served as an intern on the Digital LSC Committee. I also did a yearlong archival processing and rare book cataloging internship at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library.

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

I think it would be in a prospective graduate students’ best interest if the IS Department still maintained a computer programming prerequisite. A basic understanding of the processes that underlie hardware and software is vital to our work. The last thing information professionals need to do is shy away from technology.

I also wish the program offered a more hands-on digital preservation course with a lab component, like the class UNC SLIS offers. I loved the theoretical focus of the digital preservation class, but I learned how to use suites of forensic tools like BitCurator by myself. To gain more practical experience I also took advantage of opportunities to learn on the job, and travel for workshops.

The abilities to access tools used in the field and experience new technologies are critical to marrying the theory and practice of digital stewardship, and essential to the professional success of future digital archivists. Plus, a digital forensics lab in the IS building would be awesome!

Favorite/Most memorable course from UCLA IS Program:

Definitely Professor Borgman’s Data Management courses! Some of my most rewarding collaborations happened in her classes, and I met some really supportive friends there too. We got into a few epic fights about “what data are” but it was a blast teaching professors and researchers how to mind their data. Now, it’s super exciting to see our cohort go separate ways to find our own adventures in digital stewardship. I picture us as the fluffy parts of an old dandelion, with Professor Borgman wishing for best data practices while blowing us into the wind.