The Adventures of a Student Assistant in the Archives
Archives and Special Collections section of Bracken works a lot like the main circulation desk downstairs. The big difference is that students just can`t check anything out and take it home from the Archives because of the nature of the materials we house. Some things here are monetarily valuable, (my favorite thing we have is a signed copy of the Salvador Dali illustrated Alice in Wonderland that was seen on an episode of Pawn Stars on the History Channel), and some things are VERY old (for example, we also have a leaf from an original Gutenberg Bible). As a student worker, I get the opportunity to come into contact with these little pieces of history every day. We also house the University Archives, which includes faculty papers and documents about the history of Ball State. The Stoeckel Archives include local history files, such as the Mansfield Family Papers.
Typically, student workers help patrons that come in seeking the answers to research questions. If I`m sitting at the front desk and someone comes in looking for something regarding Ball State football, for example, I can pull our collection of documents from the University Archives for the patron to look through and research here in our reading room. We also process things that people bring in to be housed here in the Archives. The first big collection I was assigned to work on was the John Bower and the Healthy House records and photographs. What started out as 8 boxes unprocessed turned into 14 boxes (!) as I organized and re-foldered the documents we had been given by Mr. Bower and his wife Lynn. I just completed the collection recently, and I couldn`t be more proud of the work I put into the project and the finished product. Working as a student assistant here in the Archives is easily the highlight of my day. The archivists (my supervisors) are all really fun people to work with, and they`re all more than willing to help whenever I have a question about how to do something. Everything I`ve done so far here has been a learning experience, and I know that the skills I`ve learned and the experience I`ve gained will help me in reaching my ultimate goal of becoming a librarian someday.
Hope to see some of you soon, and happy researching!