When I applied to the Archives Student Assistant position at the beginning of the Fall Semester, I was unaware of the type of work I might have been doing if I was hired. A friend of mine who works at the library claimed that they would most likely have me at a desk, welcoming patrons, and taking calls. Today, I will be coming into a close of my sixth day working at the archives, and although I have been trained on how to take calls and welcome patrons, everything I have done has been far more interesting than anyone (myself included) would have assumed.
It was expressed to me that I would be taking on the title of Digitization Specialist I. For those who do not know, digitization is the conversion of documents, photos, or sound recordings into a digital form. What I find fascinating about this type of work is that digitization gives people access to these historical documents or photos without having to physically walk into the archives. Of course, I think every student should come in to see the beauty of the archives, but as a true millennial, I take pleasure in knowing that the world can be accessed from my fingertips. Now, I can gladly inform other students that they can time travel back in time just by visiting our website, Archives Space, the online exhibits links, and our blog, etc.
Although my job is to take these old photos, cassettes, and documents and make them
accessible online, I found that while I was being trained I had mixed feelings. One of those feelings was nostalgia; looking at the VHS trying to recall how to even place it into the player, as I had not used a VHS player since I was five or six years old. The other was a mix between curiosity and humility. As I stated before, I truly do enjoy being born into a generation in which much of the world can be accessed by my smartphone, a time in our world that I can call my mother, while emailing a coworker, while texting a friend. In the age of multitasking, today I found myself truly entranced by the amount of work I had to put into learning how to use the Film Reel Projector.
To use this projector, my coworker and I had to find a 16mm film reel. This started with us being given a location for a film called Trout Madness by John Voelker on our database Archives Space, and then using the location number to find it. When we had found the box, we took the film out and had to figure out how to loop the film onto the actual projector. Once this had been deciphered, we found ourselves with yet another obstacle. While we could hear the film, there was no projection to be seen. After messing with different buttons, and the moving the lens in and out of focus, finally we had achieved a clear moving picture of Trout Madness. This whole process took about 45 minutes, and although frustrating and puzzling, it was immensely satisfying to finally see what we had worked so hard for.
(The film projector in use.)
Had I not applied to the Archives, it is likely I would have not ever used a VHS player again, I would have never learned how to use a film reel projector (or even seen a 16mm film), or learned that John Voelker had an obsession with trout fishing. I guess what I am trying to say is that although I love this fast paced time that is 2017, I am so appreciative of the different things I can gain from learning about the past.
(This post was written by Kyleigh Sapp)