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. 

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