By Jill Phillips, Armstrong Browning Library and Digitization and Digital Collection Preservation Services Summer Intern
My name is Jill Phillips, and I am senior at Baylor University studying Classics and Museum Studies. Over the past several weeks of this summer I have had the pleasure to serve as the Armstrong Browning Library’s summer intern. It has been such a fun and unique experience, and I would recommend to anyone looking for an internship to apply for a Baylor Libraries summer internship. Over the course of the internship, I am expected to help out the ABL’s staff with the creation of metadata, digitization, and creation of a temporary exhibit of my own design and curation, from several of their more recent acquisitions. Overall, my experience has been a wildly positive one, from being able to expand my experience with metadata creation, to working on a unique piece of technology, to being able to curate my own exhibit while still a student.
Working at both the Armstrong Browning Library and the Riley Digitization Center has been such a unique and fun experience that has undoubtedly added to my wonderful education that I have been receiving here at Baylor. This internship has provided me with many opportunities to grow and experience working in an active field that will help me as I near graduation in December. Part of my internship parameters was to set goals within my intern experience, and work with faculty members to grow and meet these goals. Some of the goals that I personally set for myself were to grow in my skills working with metadata and online collections, as well as learn more about the process of curating an exhibit. All of which I have been given the chance to do.
Walking into the ABL is such an amazing moment—the building itself from the outside is just phenomenal to look at—the metallic doors glinting in the early Texas sun is a sight to behold—and one that is nearly impossible to explain to its fullest extent. The library and museum are gorgeous, both outside and in, and you can tell that Dr. Armstrong had taken great pride in the building and its collection. The library and museum itself is such a unique place to be able to work. It holds a standing as a library, museum, and archive due to all of the miscellaneous collections housed within. The third floor Belew Scholars’ Room is an amazing resource for both local and visiting scholars to be able to do research into whichever topic piques their fancy. The room that I have been working in, like all of the other rooms in the library, has these two gorgeous stained-glass windows that allow the sun to be refracted into all the colors of the rainbow, while also allowing for some much-needed vitamin c without having to brave the Texas sun. The staff here at the ABL is also fabulous. Jennifer Borderud has been great to work under and has made the internship like a walk in the park. I started out my summer having a meeting with her and getting to know the ABL, taking a tour of the museum, and Jennifer showing me where the stacks were and a few other secrets of the museum. After that, I got to work! There were 2 bankers boxes worth of recently acquired letters, manuscripts, and books that I was to create metadata for and put into a pre-existing spreadsheet that was shared with the Riley Digitization Center. I got to be hands-on with each document, finding the information while also keeping an eye out for any through lines that might be appearing to use to create my exhibit in the last half of the summer. While doing that, I read several of the ABL’s manuals about exhibit creation and archive storage, to get a grasp of the industry standards that the library adheres to.
Once I finished with the initial metadata, I spent several weeks working in the Riley Digitization Center in Moody Library on campus, working with the team down there to digitize and upload the documents to Baylor’s digital collections in Quartex. I had the pleasure to work with a Zeutschel Scanstudio A0, which I’m pretty sure is worth four years of tuition at Baylor, plus some. It was definitely a tad daunting, to be working on such an advanced piece of machinery; however, the Scanstudio creates some of the highest quality photographs and scans, making it perfect for the project I am working on. The Riley Center is a fabulous place on Baylor campus, with some of the kindest, most intelligent people on staff working there. They took their time to train and work with me while I was there to ensure that I knew what I was doing and the ABL was receiving the highest quality scans it could get. Working with Allyson Riley and the team was crazy fun and allowed me to see a separate part of the archival field—the digitization portion. In a world where technology is nearly impossible to separate from humans, having access to a growing and evolving digital archive is something that is incredibly important for the archival field. Plus, it allowed me to nerd out over the technology I was getting to use (I definitely took too many selfies and videos to send to my dad.) The Digitization Center showed me the different ways of collecting, storing, and uploading digital archives, while also allowing me some more hands-on work with the documents as well as some Women Poet books that also needed to be digitized and uploaded to the website. Working there taught me more of the industry standards in digitizing collections—leaving borders on letters to ensure the whole thing is captured, or cropping an image of a page in a book or manuscript where the page ends so that there isn’t anything to distract from the words on the page.
Upon returning to the ABL, I began work on my exhibit, and the whole process of creating and designing my ideas. I have been working on my context cards and labels, the lay out of the letters within their case, advertising, facsimiles and so much more to ensure I do everything by the book. I have decided to focus on classical education in the Victorian era, and how children were educated, and why language was something that was at the forefront of their education then but has seemingly slipped from American education until high school and secondary education. My exhibit will be finished by the end of the summer and on display during the fall semester in the ABL’s Hankamer Treasure Room. I look forward to being able to see this project through to the end and seeing my very own exhibit on display in a museum.
Overall, I have really enjoyed the opportunities this internship has brought me. I’ve been able to meet some fabulous people, who all are smart and brilliant people who have been in my corner as I complete my internship requirements. The fact that I am allowed to be a student and a professional at the same time has allowed me such an opportunity for growth and professional development that I have no doubt that I have gained an experience that will benefit me well past college graduation. Please come give the ABL a visit, see my exhibit in the Hankamer Treasure Room, or simply browse Baylor’s Digital Collections. You may very well see a document that I helped scan and upload! I would like to thank the Baylor Museum Studies Department, as well as both the ABL and Riley Digitization Center for allowing me to come in and work as an intern. It has proved an extremely fruitful experience and I cannot thank everyone I have worked with enough!
The Armstrong Browning Library is grateful to the donors who made the Armstrong Browning Library Endowed Internship possible.