Wednesday, 12 June 2013

LA as Subject Meeting: June 2013

LA as Subject Members Meeting
June 11, 2013
California African American Museum

CAAM Exhibits
Things That Cannot be Seen Any Other Way: The Art of Manuel Mendive is on display from April 26th until October 20th, 2013. The Legacy of the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company: More Than a Business was on display from April 4, 2012 until March 3, 2013. This year’s Diverted Destruction 6 found object assemblage show will debut on June 29th and be up until September 17, 2013. Afrodescendientes: Photographer Roberto Chile in Guanabacoa, Cuba will be on display from March 28, 2013 until October 13, 2013.

Executive Committee Update
Last minute votes for the election of the new executive committee took place at the beginning of the meeting. The results will be announced on the LA as Subject website on June 12, 2013. The Executive Committee has been working on ways to make the LAAS Directory more robust. The strategic plan has been updated and is available on the website. Lastly, the group has been engaging in discussions about the nature of the organization’s relationship with USC, the leadership wants to be careful in making decisions that will ensure our independent footing in partnerships with the university.  

Archives Bazaar
The 8th annual Archives Bazaar will take place on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at the Doheny Library at USC. The planning committee has decided to include a “pazuchua” which are lightning style presentations for institutions to present the most compelling aspects of their collections. They are also trying to screen a film, The Good Giants, which documents Black WWII soldiers in Europe. There is still a lot of work to be done in planning for the Archives Bazaar and volunteers are encouraged to contact the planning committee to get involved.

Pasadena City College Certification Program
Linda Steward from Pasadena City College presented to the group about the digitization specialist certification program that is offered through the library tech program at Pasadena City College. The program takes a year to complete and is marketed to working professionals by being offered on Tuesday nights from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM. The students in the program learn about the equipment, software, and project planning skills required to execute large scale digitization projects. They also learn about four metadata schemas and basic competencies in understanding copyright. The last portion of the program is an internship where students can apply the skills that they have learned. The cost is $46.00 per credit unit for California residents and the next class begins on August 24th.

Member Announcements

One member has been approved by a publishing house to compile a book filled with Los Angeles diary pages, similar to an existing book, New York Diaries. He encouraged all of our repositories to share any of the published or unpublished diaries from our collections. The group is also interested in collaborating with the New York City archives group, NY Metro; perhaps in a synchronous archives crawl. The Center for Political Graphics is moving to Culver City and is looking for volunteers to help with the relocation. One member shared resources from the Creative Commons, National Endowment of Humanities, and the Library of Congress that could help archivists with questions about preservation and copyright. 

Still wandering in ArchivesLand...

Now that the fellowship is over, I am looking forward to embarking on my next adventure in archives. Instead of this blog being a play by play of my work at the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum, it will be a reflection of everything that I am doing to stay competitive in the archives job market. The blog will include my reviews of articles and books about archives, my participation at various conferences and seminars, and my experience volunteering and working in archives. This blog will also serve as a priceless resource as I begin to study for the Certified Archivist exam, which I will be sitting for in New Orleans on August 14, 2013, wish me luck!

Monday, 3 June 2013

Week 51: That's all folks, :)

In my 39th week at the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum, I worked fervently on my final HistoryMakers reports, watched a couple films from the Pan-African Film Festival, and bid farewell to all of my friends at the museum.

I devoted all day Monday and Tuesday to the completion of these reports. I could not believe how much I have learned and accomplished over the last nine months; writing about those projects and collections brought all of the memories back to me. One of the most striking realizations for me came when the survey asked if this experience increased my ability to find a position in an archive. I answered no, because I have become a generalist, rather than an expert in anything. I’m not an expert on preservation, digitization, or donor relations because of the fellowship, but I have gained more experience in all of these avenues as a result of the fellowship. For all of this time, I thought that I would like nothing better than to be the processing archivist in a large institution, but perhaps I could be more dynamic archivist for a smaller community archive, like the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum. I brought this issue up at my farewell dinner with Larry, and he said that I had the potential to do either. I appreciate the vote of confidence and I believe that my conclusion will be very important as I make decisions about my next career move.

The Pan-African Film Festival has been a staple in Los Angeles for the past 21 years. The films come from around the world and are screened at a major movie theater for four days straight. The festival relies heavily on their staff of volunteers to get through the program. As a treat to their volunteer staff (who never get watch the movies) the program screens all of the movies at the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum exclusively for their volunteers. The museum was open until midnight on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday while the films were rolling. Cara, Larry and I took turns staying late to lock up the building. On Monday, I found some time to sit down and watch “Mugabe, Villian or Hero?”, a documentary on the controversial leader of Zimbabwe, and “The Pirogue” which was about a group Senegalese immigrants who are stranded at sea in their attempt to emigrate to Spain. The administrators from the film festival bring food and cooks in our kitchen space throughout the night. There was popcorn, candy, hot dogs, nachos, cookies, soda, and beer in abundance at this event. Good films and tasty snacks made me look forward to a long night at “work”.      


As I ticked down to my last days at the fellowship, I began to feel deliriously happy that I would be free to travel and explore Los Angeles. I had been working six days a week trying to finish my work, and leave my plans and instructions for moving forward in the collection. I finished organizing all of my files, digital and print, and putting my binder of materials together by Saturday morning and spent the rest of the day chatting with the volunteers in the building. It has been an incredible experience getting to know all of these individuals and they are the primary reason that I have decided to give Los Angeles a chance. I know that there are good people here who would help me if I ever needed it. These are people that appreciated all of my hard work and my vision for the future of the museum’s collection. Just when I thought I would be leaving my position without much fanfare, all of the volunteers, Lloyd, Rose Marie and Cara popped into my office to present me with gifts and friendly farewells. It was so nice. I have a few ideas about what I will be doing after this fellowship, but I am sure that today will not be the last time that I see all of those smiling faces. 

Week 50: Job Hunting 101

In my 38th week at the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum, I attended an IMLS Careerfest in Riverside, California.

I felt very fortunate to have met Dr. Patricia Smith-Hunt at the MCLM board meeting and I happily accepted her invitation to her IMLS Career Festival in Riverside, 60 miles east of Los Angeles. Dr. Smith-Hunt is one of the administrators for an IMLS grant to increase diversity in librarianship for the Inland Empire area of southern California. The majority of their participants are current students in MLS programs and the grant supports them with funding for tuition and professional development. Their program had funding to pay for me to spend the night before the event in a hotel in Riverside. This way I would not have to fight traffic out of Los Angeles to make it to Riverside for the 8:30 AM start time. The day was jam packed with guest speakers and opportunities to network. The best part of the event is that all of the information was geared toward individuals that were starting careers in special, school, academic and public libraries. I learned about trends in the job market and how we can frame our experience to be more attractive to employers.

The career counselor for San Jose State University spent the entire afternoon talking about resumes, interviews and cover letters. She even workshop-ed our resumes at the end of the day. I have not seen my paper “bleed” that much since my freshman honors English class. She encouraged me to be more direct with the information in my resume with less narrative; and focus on my accomplishments. She also recommended that I use “Related Experience” rather than “Employment History”, so that I could put my volunteer experience alongside my “work” experience. Prior to the HistoryMakers, I had read so many books about resumes and assumed I had a strong one, but I thought that her advice was sound and I am going to spend some time updating mine. She also said that every resume should be tailored to fit the job that you are applying for, no exceptions. She recommended that we create a master resume that lists everything that you have ever done and just pull what is extremely relevant when drafting the resume for a prospective job.


One of the speakers gave one fact and asked one question that pointed to the fundamental problem of any job search. The fact is that the overwhelming majority of people find their jobs through networking and when she asked how we felt about networking; the answers were awkward, forced, fake, and uncomfortable. She encouraged us to re-frame the way that we look at networking and just take the time to get to know one new person at a time; it doesn’t have to be business card collecting marathon. With the MLS degree as the common denominator for everyone in the room; it was nice to hear how we can manipulate our skill sets to work in a grand variety of atmospheres. I am guilty of just entering “archivist” in the search field and wondering why I don’t get very many hits; why not enter “content manager” or “researcher” or “metadata” and see what comes up? Libraries and archives are not the only places that need archivists. Overall, I took five pages of notes and talked to a good number of folks that are excited about pursuing careers in information science.       

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Week 49: Look what I can DO!

In my 37th week at the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum, I presented my work to the Collection Advisory Board and the museum’s Board of Directors.

I have had four meetings with the Collections Advisory Board of the museum this year and I am thoroughly satisfied with the symbiotic relationship that we have established. When I speak at The University of Chicago in a couple of weeks, I will be sharing the importance of having a strong group of diverse professionals giving advice on the direction of our work. It was the Collections Advisory Board who recommended that we focus exclusively on Dr. Clayton’s collection before moving on to any other materials. I was proud to share that I had completed an exhaustive finding aid for Dr. Clayton’s collection. This 14 page document sparked an idea for a researcher’s symposium to be sponsored by the Advisory Board in September. The event would showcase Dr. Clayton’s collection, let researcher’s know that we are open and begin a new focus on scholarship in the museum. I’m not sure what my role with this group will be in the future but I am proud that I could be the impetus for the discussions and the recommendations that will move the museum forward.

On Sunday, Larry asked me to present at the monthly Board of Director’s meeting. I knew that their evaluation of me would carry a lot of weight when they were allocating money for my continued employment at the museum, so I was a little nervous. Then I remembered that I had worked very hard on my projects and if they could not see the value in what I had done, I probably should not be working there at all. I was one of their last agenda items, and I came in with my handouts and list of talking points. I shared that I was going to be presenting on this information in a few weeks and would love their feedback at the end of my remarks. I started off talking about my work on the duplicate book project (from the general collection), and how it generated the inventory (1145 books) for our upcoming book sales and the permanent bookstore within the museum. I also discussed the 119 duplicate books that we had pulled from the rare book collection, which we were shopping around to auction houses. I gave a brief overview of the Audio Assault exhibit and how well it has been received by the visitors to the museum. I also shared how I designed the Roses and Revolutions Listening Party as a complement to the exhibit, and what I learned from planning a public program at MCLM.


When it came to my work on the collections, I identified seven challenges that I encountered and how we managed to deal with them. One of the highlights was the establishment of an accession chart, so that we would know when everything was received, how big it was, and prioritize collections for processing. I also discussed my drive to move collection processing toward the industry standard in order for inclusion on the Online Archive of California. I used the Dr. Mayme A. Clayton Collection of African American History and Culture finding aid as an example of what we should generate for every collection that we have identified, thirty nine in total. I felt like I was talking too fast because I thought they were all ready to get out of that long meeting. I did get some positive feedback from some of the members of the board and several followed up with me after the meeting to discuss what my plans were for after the fellowship. Overall, it was a good exercise for me to showcase the leadership, execution, and work ethic that I exhibited in my time at the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum.