Thoughts of a Special Collections Intern

[As told by Amanda Wentworth]: As someone who relatively recently became interested in the wonderful world of librarianship, it was not too long ago that the term “Special Collections” would’ve passed through the air over my head with no recognition and no further consideration. Mentioning it to people around me now inspires a similar reaction.

In fact, my general notions about librarianship were relatively limited. When I thought of a librarian, I thought of someone sitting at the front desk of a library to scan books out, filling shelves, answering reference questions, and so on. What I didn’t know was that this is a rich and diverse field of work that manifests itself in a wide range of career environments. Librarians are the backbone to a professional society that demands amassing and retrieving information, and its storage, organization, and cataloging. Meaning, schools and universities are not the only places you will ever find a librarian. Any place that has records or data that need tending likely has a librarian to do so, from law firms to medical research facilities; everything in our present world revolves around information, to which librarians are the custodians.

While the image of a librarian might even seem “old-school” to our tech-generation that lives and works digitally, the librarian is arguably more essential to our academic and professional society than ever. Librarianship is moving seamlessly into the digital world, and, in fact, dominates it in many instances. Here at Geneseo, our librarians are cyber-wizards; masters of online research, data retrieval, digital guides, and more. Right before the semester began, I stumbled upon this article, which highlights the importance of librarians in avoiding the largely political and social issues revolving around fake news, and inspired my pursuit of this field even more.

A section of Milne’s Special Collections

In light of this, and given my own interests, further exploring the greater domain of library science seemed natural to me. There are a few areas of study that I could have based my internship in, specifically research and instruction, and Special Collections. When considering which path I’d take initially I thought, why not start with the aspect of academic librarianship that is most unknown to me? And thus my internship with Milne’s Special Collections began.

Although I didn’t have any personal experience with the Special Collections prior to my internship, it didn’t take long for me to find out just how valuable and useful they are on our campus. Geneseo’s Special Collections include several distinct collections, many concerning unique facets of the local and college community, as well as the rare books collection known as the “X” Special Collection. During my time at this internship, I’ve seen students, professors, and alumni utilize this resource for both research and nostalgia. Thanks to the organization and accessibility of the collections, as well as the knowledge and know-how of the librarians that oversee it, most inquirers easily find what they’re looking for. This is an example of reference, which is a large part of any librarian’s job, and has been a hands-on and interesting part of my own internship experience.

Photo by Daniel Fink

My other responsibilities involve collection management, and have included sorting and taking inventory of new collections as well as additions to existing collections, and selecting items to be considered for accession to a collection. As mentioned, modern librarianship is largely focused on the digital, and how the digital world can connect others through the sharing of information. So, naturally, my internship would have to reflect this growing aspect of a librarian’s skills. I’ve had the opportunity to work with New York Heritage, a digital repository created to give easy, free access to digital collections from various libraries and other cultural organizations in New York State, to digitize a portion of a collection found in Milne’s Genesee Valley Historical Collection: a series of photographs taken by Daniel Fink collectively titled The Architecture of Livingston County. I selected the images, scanned them, and input the metadata for each into a digital management system called CONTENTdm so that it could be uploaded into the New York Heritage site, to join other collections that have been contributed by Milne Library. I have also been collaborating on an existing project that requires extensive metadata work in a CSV file for thousands of photographs in the College Archives, for import into an Omeka website.

It’s clear that librarians with digital and technical skills are currently in high demand as our society dives further and further into cyber-world, in desperate need for skilled navigators of the information landscape.

New Open SUNY Release: A Concise Introduction to Logic

Open SUNY Textbooks announces the release of its latest project, A Concise Introduction to Logic. Author Craig DeLancey is Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at SUNY Oswego. View and download the text here for free.

The textbook is an “introduction to formal logic suitable for undergraduates taking a general education course in logic or critical thinking, and is accessible and useful to any interested in gaining a basic understanding of logic.  This text takes the unique approach of teaching logic through intellectual history; the author uses examples from important and celebrated arguments in philosophy to illustrate logical principles.”

About Open SUNY Textbooks

The mission of Open SUNY Textbooks is to provide an academic-friendly publishing model and infrastructure which supports faculty adoption, remixing, and creation of open educational resources (OER) and courses. We are dedicated to improving student learning outcomes and addressing the affordability of course materials.

Open SUNY Textbooks is an open access textbook publishing initiative established by State University of New York libraries and supported by SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grants. This pilot initiative publishes high-quality, cost-effective course resources by engaging faculty as authors and peer-reviewers, and libraries as publishing service and infrastructure.

The pilot launched in 2012, providing an editorial framework and service to authors, students and faculty, and establishing a community of practice among libraries. The first pilot is publishing 15 titles, with a second pilot to follow that will add more textbooks and participating libraries.

Participating libraries in the 2012-2013 pilot include SUNY Geneseo, College at Brockport, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, SUNY Fredonia, Upstate Medical University, and University at Buffalo, with support from other SUNY libraries and SUNY Press. The 2013-2014 pilot will add more titles, and includes new participating libraries; SUNY Oswego, Monroe Community College, and more soon.

Get Graphic: Bringing Literature to Reluctant Readers

Using graphic novels in the classroom is a great way to bridge what students already know with what they have yet to learn. Graphic novels are multimodal and help facilitate and support students’ ability to visualize and understand complicated ideas. In addition to being manageable for students to read, they are relevant, engaging, and approachable. Milne Library has recently acquired a large collection of graphic novels in a variety of subjects, topics, and reading levels. For help finding graphic novels, visit the reference desk or contact the Education & Instructional Design librarian, Michelle Costello.

A sampling of graphic novels found in Milne Library:

Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean
by Maris Wicks.

juv 741.5 WIC

A look at ocean science covering the biology of coral reefs as well as their ecological importance.

Flying Couch: A Graphic Memoir
by Amy Kurzweil
juv 741.5 KUR

Flying couch tells the stories of three unforgettable women. Amy Kurzweil weaves her own coming-of-age as a young Jewish artist into the narrative of her mother, a psychologist, and Bubbe, her grandmother, a World War II survivor who escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto by disguising herself as a gentile. The voices and histories of these wise, hilarious, and very different women create a portrait not only of what it means to be part of a family, but also of how each generation bears the imprint of the past.

Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom
by Booki Vivat
juv F VIV

Nervous about middle school because her family does not get her and her friends know exactly what they want to do, Abbie Wu searches for her own passion before discovering a knack for leadership when injustices in the cafeteria come to light.

Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon, 1961-63 by Marcelino Truong ; translated by David Homel
ya 741.5 TRU

A memoir, in graphic novel form, on the early years of the Vietnam war through the eyes of a young Vietnamese boy.

The Maid of the Mist
by Tanya Anderson
juv 741.5 AND

In graphic novel format, retells the Native American legend about a young woman living along the Niagara River near its waterfalls who is transformed into a Thunder Being.

Sidewalk Flowers
by JonArno Lawson
juv P LAW

A little girl collects wildflowers while on a walk with her distracted father. Each flower becomes a gift, and whether the gift is noticed or ignored, both giver and recipient are transformed by their encounter.

Space Dumplins
by Craig Thompson
juv 741.5 THO

For Violet Marlocke, family is the most important thing in the whole galaxy. So when her father goes missing while on a hazardous job, she can’t just sit around and do nothing. To get him back, Violet throws caution to the stars and sets out with a group of misfit friends on a quest to find him. But space is big and dangerous, and she soon discovers that her dad has been swallowed by a giant, planet-eating whale. With her father’s life on the line, nothing is going to stop Violet from trying to rescue him and keep her family together.

El Deafo
by Cece Bell
juv 741.5 BEL

In this graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful–and very awkward–hearing aid. The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear–sometimes things she shouldn’t–but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become “El Deafo, Listener for All.” And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she’s longed for.

Sisters
by Raina Telgemeier
juv 741.5 TEL

Three weeks.

Two sisters.

One car.

A true story.


Tippy and the Night Parade: A Toon Book

by Lilli Carré
juv 741.5 CAR

Follow Tippy on a nocturnal adventure through mist, up a mountain, down a hole and back home.