My last semester (!)

Google calendar and a beer

It’s been a while since I posted. Last semester was, in fact, my busiest. This semester also got off to a busy start, as I am taking two classes, doing my Capstone project, finishing up the panel design for the small exhibition I’m guest curating at the Neill-Cochran House Museum, assisting with the SAA-UT board transition, continuing my side gig as a research assistant for a scholar in Boston, working in two different capacities for my internship at the Harry Ransom Center, applying for scholarships, and applying for jobs! Yikes.

Luckily, Spring “Break” means I have time to update my blog.

So far I’ve applied for five jobs and had one interview, in February. That was a bit too early, but it was a great experience, nonetheless, especially since it was for a position as information manager/librarian at a state agency, and the interview process forced me to think about pitching my skill set to a hiring committee outside of the library or archives field (in this case, human resources professionals and attorneys!).

This semester, I’m taking Professor Diane Bailey’s Presenting Information, which I chose on the recommendation of several fellow iSchoolers. I really like the class, and I’ve already learned a lot. And I’m finally taking Archives Enterprise II with Professor Ciaran Trace. This class is amazing. The class sequence I originally planned proved impossible due to course scheduling, so I am two semesters “behind” where I wanted to be, but this class is allowing us to think really deeply about so many aspects of archival theory and practice while also providing a fertile space for writing ahopefully publishablepaper.

Archives Enterprise II class, Post-Its mapping social justice theory in archives
Thinking about current issues involving archives and social justice in Professor Trace’s Archives Enterprise II class.

For my Capstone, I’m working with the indefatigable Jennifer Hecker at UT Libraries on her brainchild, the Austin Music Documentation Initiative, where I will be developing the framework for a project to aggregate Austin’s music collections, not dissimilar to the DC Africana Project and the Louisville Underground Music Archive. My colleagues Grace Atkins, Hannah Rainey, and Jeremy Selvidge are concurrently developing a proof of concept portal for Professor Unmil Karadkar’s Digital Libraries course. The final stage of my Capstone will be writing a grant application for this project, which I’m really excited about. It would be cool beyond words to see this great archival idea become a reality soon.

Spring in Austin
Spring in Austin

Meanwhile, I’ll be missing class and work next week to attend my first Association of College & Research Libraries conference in Portland, Oregon! ACRL 2015 is going to be great! Not just because of the fantastic lineup of speakers and panels, but because I’m meeting my Rare Books and Manuscripts Section mentor, Melanie Meyers, for the first time.  And I’ve never been to Portland, either! I’ve built in an extra day and a half so that I can be a tourist a bit, too. I am very grateful to have a received an ACRL Student Scholarship, making this trip possible.

I’ll be doing a quick, 24 x 7 presentation at the Texas Conference on Digital Libraries next month, about my work at the Harry Ransom Center on The Browning Letters project. I wasn’t able to attend most of TCDL last year due to class conflicts, so I am especially looking forward to this!

I also received the John Michael Caldwell Student Scholarship to the Society of Southwest Archivists annual meeting in Arlington, Texas, in May. I’ll be participating in a panel titled “Represent!: Challenges and Rewards of Documenting Under-Documented Communities,” talking about my Capstone, alongside Ms. Hecker (Austin Fanzine Project), Samantha Bruner (LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana), and Rachel Panella (Austin Graffiti Project)all UT iSchoolers! In fact, Rachel and I will be leaving immediately after our panel Friday afternoon to drive back to Austin, where we will graduate on Saturday!

I applied for a lot of scholarships last year, and got a couple; but this year, I got even more. The lesson is this: keep applying! Graduate students are busy, and you may not get many or any scholarships, but you have to apply. The funds are there, and the archives community is invested in your professional development. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by! Going to class and doing internships is one thing; attending regional and national conferences is a totally different window into the profession, and one that will inform and inspire your experience as an archives student. It’s a great way to learn about some of the thrilling projects going on around the country while connecting with your program’s alumniand potential employers! Apply, apply, apply!

Last week, the SAA SNAP (Students and New Archives Professionals Roundtable) blog published my guest post on increasing involvement in SAA student chapters, based upon our experiences with SAA-UT events, fundraising, and outreach in 2014. You can check it out on the blog, here. SNAP would love to hear about your experiences with SAA student chapters, so please leave a comment!

I also joined Instagram as Texarchivist. Come on over and follow me!

Somehow, it’s already the last day of Spring Break. I managed to take yesterday afternoon off to head out to Becker Vineyards in Stonewall, Texas (highly recommended!). And, since my local pub of 20 years was bulldozed to make room for more condominiums, I spent St. Patrick’s Day at Fadó. But, as usual, I haven’t done any SXSW activities, and now it’s time to get back to work, as I try to get ahead of the readings and assignments and internship hours I’ll miss due to next week’s trip to Oregon. I can’t believe I only have six more weeks of the program.

Harry Ransom clockface
Counting down the days with Harry Ransom

As everyone predicted, the past two years have flown by. It’s been difficult at times, always busy, and I have learned a lot not just about archives and preservation but also about time management, (continually) overcoming anxiety, collegiality, scholarly conventions in the field of information science, how to make the most of professional conferences, and how much coffee I can consume. Mostly, I am just grateful for this opportunity, and I hope I can find a job that really builds upon the new skills I’ve acquired while allowing me to share my passion for history and the archival enterprise.