The last few weeks I’ve been wrapping up my time in the RADS department here in the Libe. There was a pretty noticeable shift between the first half of my time here and the second half, both in terms of my schedule and in how I viewed my place in the department. In the first half, I was doing mostly informational interviews, meeting individually with nearly everyone in the department to learn about what they do and how they got to where they are. Then, having developed a sense for the different parts of the department, I was given a little more freedom in how to spend my work time. I no longer had anyone to interview, and I set out working on my final project of the term, collating data from different places in the department and running summative analyses to present to the department at the end of the term.
That final analysis was a learning process. At the start of the term I envisioned something grand – I eagerly asked each person I spoke with what they’d want to see in my analysis, trying to incorporate everyone’s various ideas into something cohesive. Then as the term went on I realized what is at this point likely obvious: I bit off more than I could chew. I had so many ideas and minimal progress made toward each of them, and I realized that the project I wanted to do was not the same as the one I could do given my schedule. So I took a step back, and doing so gave me the space and time to prepare a presentation that, while it wasn’t the one I originally dreamed of, I can still say I’m quite proud of.
While I spent much of the last few weeks on that project, my other job duties weren’t completely paused. I spent ninth week in Archives, for example. This was a much different experience than working up in RADS. The Archives, being at its core a Carleton-focused resource, houses a completely different collection and workflow than the rest of the library. I did a lot of thinking about the different purposes served by archives and libraries. The value of archives, ours included, is inherently subjective – there will be much more interest in Carleton’s history at Carleton than at another institution – but that doesn’t make it useless. Just like an academic library, an archives supports the research interests of its patron population. In this way and in others, the more I thought about the differences between the Archives and the Libe, the more I realized they are actually quite similar. The archives preserves and presents information of interest just like the Libe does; even if it can sometimes seem like the Archives is a disconnected body (in the basement and behind closed doors!), the connection between the two is actually quite strong.
As I wrap up my time in the RADS department, I’ve reflected a lot on the staff who’ve surrounded me here. It is simply staggering the compassion, kindness, and collaboration I’ve encountered here. The RADS staff have been nothing but supportive of me and they’ve made my time here a wonderful experience. My unending thanks goes to them all.
In closing, I’ve been very fortunate to have this experience and I’ve done a lot of learning and growing because of it. Looking forward to R&I!