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Practicum Experience Summary

I completed my practicum experience at Cushing Memorial Library and Archive at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. I worked with the Cherokee Freedmen Collection to create metadata for digital images, created a full finding aid for the physical collection, conducted a quality control assessment of the digital images vs. the physical collection, and made contextual connections between this collection and similar records at other institutions. When I was discussing my responsibilities with my supervisors, I was nervous. I had never actually completed any of the assigned tasks, so I was worried that I would not know what to do or be able to complete them successfully. Many of the tasks I had heard of or learned about in some of my Library Science classes, but they were still somewhat abstract concepts for me at that point. Luckily for me, my supervisors were kind, helpful, and willing to teach me what I needed to learn to understand how to complete my work.

I began my practicum by creating metadata for the Cherokee Freedmen Collection. Given that my only true experience with metadata being part of my Information Organization Project in INFO 5200. It was a bit difficult at the beginning of creating metadata. I loved reading the testimonies of Cherokee Freedmen applicants and learning about what their lives were like from around 1850 through to 1907. My supervisors explained that metadata is the information contained in the document like names, locations, and subjects to name a few things. I struggled initially to determine the most important to include in the metadata, but after a while I got the hang of it and really enjoyed the process of it. Reading the documents, analyzing them, deciding the important information, inputting it into the metadata spreadsheet all became a process I easily settled into.

While it was enjoyable and peaceful to work by myself, I found myself a bit lonely. I have been a teacher for the last four years, so I am used to constantly being busy and being around a lot of other people. At first, I loved a quiet environment and the opportunity to work on a project by myself. However, after a few days, I found myself really missing getting to work consistently with other people. I think this was the main challenge that I encountered while working here. If and/or when I become an archivist, I would like to ensure that there are opportunities for me to work with others. I truly enjoyed all of the tasks that I completed at Cushing Library, and I can see myself working as an archivist.

I learned even more than I expected to during my internship. I had assumed I would learn about metadata and finding aids and such, but I learned much more. I learned about the importance of in-depth details of the metadata and how to conduct quality control. I also learned the importance of completing digital scans accurately the first time. Many of the digital images were difficult to read, askew, or had an over exposure of light. While I was conducting the quality control, I informed my supervisors of the condition of the digital images, and they decided they would have to rescan the whole of the collection. Thankfully, the documents in the collection are still in good enough condition to be rescanned. According to my supervisors, not all collections are so lucky.

I had a lot of fun working with the Cherokee Freedmen Collection and I learned a lot. When I told my friends and family about what I was doing for my internship, they all joked about the fact that it is completely perfect for me. My tasks at Cushing Library were the perfect combination of reading and history. I also learned a lot about what it is like to work in both a library and an archive. From watching the opening presentation of a new exhibit, to finding bugs invading the collection, to learning how to complete new tasks like quality control of digital images or writing a finding aid, to seeing Shakespeare’s second folio that’s worth more than $200,000. I am truly grateful for the opportunity I was given to intern at Cushing Memorial Library and Archive. It was a great opportunity for me to learn and develop a new skillset that I can take with me to future jobs.

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