Winter Issue 2001
     The Newsleter of the Association of Library & Information Science Students (ALISS)

The Silverfish is published quarterly by the students of the Information School at the University of Washington.

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Directed Fieldwork & Work Study Experiences: Libby Burke
March 29, 2002

How did you learn about your directed fieldwork opportunity? How did you know what type of DFW you wanted?

I didn't really know what I wanted to do for field work, but I came to the iSchool with a "niche" interest in film archiving. I started thinking about field work but didn't know where I would go-I was thinking maybe MOHAI or EMP, but I wasn't sure and hadn't looked into anything (too busy!). I joined an organization called the Association of Moving Image Archivists as a student member and attended a conference in LA in Nov. 2000. I met a woman who was an alumna of this program now living in LA. She voiced her desire to have a film archives in Washington (there isn't one) so she could move back and work there. I heard from her a few months later that the UW MSCUA had hired a photo and graphics curator, Nicolette Bromberg, who had worked in the Wisconsin Film and Theatre Collection. I went over and met her and started talking to her about what kind of moving image materials were here, and would she like to find out more about them with my help. We began to develop the idea of surveying the collections in the MSCUA and figuring out how much moving image material there is, which would give a foundation for her idea to begin a consortium archives project. This was toward the end of Spring Quarter 2001.

Once you found out about the organization, how did you go about setting up your DFW?

I spoke with Lynnea. There wasn't much time and I hadn't been to any workshops or anything, and I didn't really have quite enough credits, but was able to transfer three credits from an outside dept to get me up to 33. My advisor approved of the project. I decided to do it during Summer quarter as I would be on campus for other classes and could plan the 200 hours out over the 3 months and defer the credits to another quarter. As I was planning to work on it through September, I wasn't going to be finished by the end of the quarter anyway, so that was the way I planned it.

How much interaction did you have with your supervisor?

She trained me and was in the office almost daily when I was, so she was able to supervise me pretty closely, and I was able to run ideas by her whenever I could. We talked a lot about methods and ideas and how to raise money. This was especially important at the beginning as I was developing a survey document and then a database and we needed to figure out what kinds of questions we needed to ask. We had to work our way through it a number of times to get it so it worked.

What kinds of things did you get to do?

  • Looked at and counted film cans that were accessible in the SC area.
  • I went through every finding aid by hand in the MS/UA files looking for the words Film and Video, and then copied those sheets.
  • I designed and created an Access database with the help of the IT guy there
  • I recorded my survey information by hand and entered the data.
  • I set up viewer/winders in the SC area and wrote how to manuals for the database and the viewers.
  • I created a curatorial manual for film preservation and an annotated bibliography of film preservation books and journals

What did you learn during the experience?

  • I learned that the MSCUA is in the stone age as far as their finding aids go
  • I learned how to create a database
  • I learned how to work on a day-to-day basis on a project of great scope
  • I learned how to manage my time
  • I learned how to interact with librarians
  • I learned that this is really the type of work I want to do

What kind of training did you receive?

I received mentoring and encouragement, and help with organizational issues for moving image materials

Do you feel that this experience has helped prepare you for work in a professional setting?

Yes, the contacts were good and the presentations I made to the staff and the interaction I had helped me to get a feel for what it is like to work in a special collections area of an academic library.

Did this experience make you want to take any additional coursework or seek additional training?

Yes, I took the archiving course here (LIS 505) and now plan to pursue an archival studies certificate next year at Western

I also wrote a grant for Friends of the Library money to purchase viewing and cleaning and storage materials for the films-and heard yesterday that we got it!

Any advice to other students seeking fieldwork experiences?

Don't forget that you already have interests that may seem far-fetched but can actually give you really good direction as to a place you might do fieldwork, and you never know when you are going to meet a good contact that can lead to a great opportunity, so keep your eyes, ears and heart open.

Also, I will use the database I made for the electronic document component in my portfolio. I am also thinking about using the fieldwork project as part of my leadership and service areas for my portfolio.

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