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DC ASB 2008 Tell-All Blog: Days 2 and 3

I'm sharing a two-room suite here at the Harrington with 3 other gents: Tim V., Nathan T., and Greg G. We've been here three days and the rooms still smell pretty fresh even with all the things we've done to them. Credit the housekeeping. The tub doesn't drain in my room, so showers remain short (you have to get done before the water pours over the edge). Our temporary jobs all start around 9 and none of us in my suite has to go very far, so it's not uncommon for people to start getting ready around 8:30. It's still too early for me. I pushed it to 8:35 this morning for an 8:45 departure from the hotel.

I'm working at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History with Emily H., Megan E., Barb P., and Nathan T. Each morning we walk just down the street from the Harrington to the Museum, which is currently closed to the public. We get to dress casually -- a nice perk. The actual facility where we do our work is the Archives Center, which is responsible for an impressive variety of materials. The people there are treating us very well and our program coordinator bakes us cookies, cupcakes, etc. every day.

The focus of our placement is on processing a large collection of material known as the Naff Collection. The first day, we looked at the collection broadly and determined how it might best be arranged to be of value to researchers. We learned some good techniques for effectively arranging and housing photographs, and actually worked our way through the Naff Collection's boxes of photos. Lunch was PB&J and other down-home goodies, and was accompanied by a presentation about digitizing the Smithsonian's NMAH photo holdings.

On the second day we finished with the photos and transitioned into the other main component of the collection, personal papers. For me this was one of my first experiences carrying out formal document processing – it's not the most exciting thing in the world, but it really does require expert judgment and attention to detail in order to arrive at a product with archival "added value" in terms of organization, enhanced findability, and standards of preservation. We also learned how to construct "sink mats" to protect glass negatives. The lunchtime presentation was fantastic, as the Smithsonian NMAH's expert on musical holdings shared some great footage of Miles Davis, Benny Carter, and Frank Sinatra. None of us wanted to leave the jazz and food to go back to processing.

ASB is giving us some really great work experience, but it's not all work. The evenings have been an opportunity to get to know fellow students in a way we may not have back in Ann Arbor. Some people like to go out sightseeing, some get ambitious and go to shows or movies, and some just walk around the city. I've gone out for dinner (and drinks…) with friends each night and met some "new" people from SI that I have really enjoyed talking with. We've shared some good laughs so far. Last night, we celebrated Malisa L.'s birthday with a Chinese dinner and chocolate cake (and singing, of course) – Happy Birthday Malisa!

I'll address some "other" topics in my next blog post, but just wanted to give you a sense of what the days and nights are like for us here in Bush's shadow.

All for now, Bill C.

Posted by kkowatch at March 4, 2008 03:39 PM


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