This post is intended to introduce the people at OCLC Research who work on ArchiveGrid – our names and faces who get and send emails, attend meetings and conferences, give presentations and demonstrations, host webinars, post videos, participate in groups, write things, work behind the scenes, and do whatever else is necessary, big or small, to advance ArchiveGrid’s role in archives and special collections research.
To reveal more about ourselves in addition to our work at OCLC, we pulled from own archives this past week photographs and memories of Halloweens past to share today, in addition to how we ended up in libraryland. Enjoy!
Other than a couple of summers in the mid-70s when I worked in a cannery, from age 18 on I’ve worked either in or for libraries. That path has taken me from shelving books, to cataloging, to providing technical support, to web design, and to software engineering in OCLC Research. My time and attention are divided across a range of systems and projects. Along with providing programming, design, strategic planning, and management support for ArchiveGrid, I support the WorldCat Search API and a number of data analysis projects being pursued in OCLC Research.
The photo suggests both my interest in technology and my habit of putting things together from what’s close at hand. In the case of my Halloween 1964 robot costume, I only needed a few cardboard boxes, a discarded TV antenna and radio parts, some wooden blocks, and silver spray paint.
We were big Kennedy fans at my house, so my Halloween costume a year earlier for 1963 was based on PT-109, the motor torpedo boat famously commanded by Lieutenant John F. Kennedy and sunk after a collision with a Japanese destroyer in the South Pacific, 1943. Again, I assembled it from what was lying around, including more cardboard and more silver spray paint. And a hat. No pictures survive of that effort. President Kennedy was assassinated the next month, and my mother was too heart-broken to see my boat costume stored away near the washing machine in our basement, so it was tossed. My brother likes to tell people that my 1964 costume was based on the Texas School Book Depository.
Halloween was always a HUGE night for kids back in the days when I was a trick-or-treater. We all felt a huge sense of kid community as we ran around the neighborhood (no parents in tow) shrieking and laughing. Now, when I see every year what a tiny handful of gremlins and munchkins come around in our perfectly safe, suburban neighborhood, I find myself hoping that they’re having a grand time somewhere else, as opposed to missing out on all the traditional fun of this goofy holiday.
I remember remarkably little about my costumes, except for the last one. I was 11, pushing the age envelope for trick-or-treating. Mom made me wear my older brother’s recycled Peter Pan costume, including the pants she had made from boys’ long underwear. Boo! No pictures available of me in that (thank god) or any other Halloween costume, so this one is of me in my baton twirler outfit, which suited my pre-pubescent self image far better.
As for my life in libraries and archives, it has been an absolute blast — 30 years and counting! I had no thought of specializing in special collections when I was in grad school at UCLA, but I was hooked forever when I fell into an opportunity to catalog original prints and photographs at the Library of Congress. After 25 years of great jobs in libraries, I’m now in a perpetual state of bliss as one of the lucky crew at OCLC Research. Among much else, being part of the ArchiveGrid gang is a great pleasure. Thanks to Bruce and Ellen, AG has grown incredibly in both content and functionality over the past couple years. We love helping to make the archival community happy and productive!
Here’s my Halloween photo, circa 1980. Despite being dressed as a baby, this is the year I was told I was too old for trick-or-treating and this was my last gasp at age 11 or 12. Pictured with me is my best friend from elementary and high school who has risen up the ranks from cowgirl to an illustrious career in newspaper journalism. Previous costumes were the Bride of Frankenstein (I think I used Desitin on my face since I didn’t have access to makeup) and Princess Leia from Star Wars. This year I’ll be dressed up as a speaker for the ARL Assessment Conference in Charlotteville, Virg. (Editor’s note: Due to Hurricane Sandy and cancelled flights out of the Bay Area, this plan did not come to fruition.) I did make my daughter’s “lightning fairy” costume from scratch.
I first started working as in a library as a “volunteen” in the early 1980s to help provide support for the summer reading program at the Chapman Branch of the Orange County Public Library – the fact that the library offered air conditioning and an unlimited supply of books was an added bonus. I took a break from the library world and worked as a cashier at Disneyland and as an in-home caregiver in high school and college, before coming back to the library as a student employee at the Regional Oral History Office at UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library in 1988. I never looked back. My roots are planted firmly at the corner of digitization and special collections, and I love working on collaborative projects, which is why I made the move to work as a program officer at RLG in 2001. Since 2006, I’ve been working in OCLC Research on a range of projects, mostly in our “Mobilizing Unique Materials” strand, and am fortunate to be part of the small but mighty ArchiveGrid team.
My favorite Halloween costume involves swim goggles and my grandfather’s academic robe. I pin on a piece of red paper in the shape of an hourglass – the signature of a black widow spider. I use three sets of goggles for the spider’s multiple eyes. My grandfather’s robe has long sleeves that act as the third set of legs.
This photo is from the 1980s. I’m with my dad, who is dressed up as Zorro. We’re on our way to downtown Boulder for the annual rowdy stroll, a rival to the Castro’s former street party. I’m still not too old for trick-or-treat, especially in San Francisco.
I’m an accidental librarian and an accidental archivist. Right around the time of this photo, I got my first job in a library. I was broke, after a year as a ski bum. I feel lucky to have worked in all kinds of libraries all over North America: university, special, public, research, historical society, etc. Except for a brief stint as a cataloger, I’ve worked with researchers and been a researcher myself, especially in rare books and archives. Until I came to OCLC Research, my librarian regalia was another kind of costume: vintage gabardine blazers, 1940s shoes, and always – always – a string of pearls.
Cats were my favorite animal growing up and for several consecutive childhood Halloweens I wore some variation of a furry, full-body feline costume my mom sewed. These practical get-ups kept me warm on cold Oregon nights for trick-or-treating, and although it seems bizarre now, I enjoyed wearing them around the house. In this photo, I am playing the part as our cat Angus (named by my teenage sister at the time after AC/DC Guitarist Angus Young) attacks my tail. I must have been believable, because his tail and back fur is fluffed in defense mode.
I’m somewhat new to the library profession, but I’m not new to the library world. As a kid my family took me to our local library at least once a week because I had a fierce curiosity about everything and read voraciously. My favorite memories in middle school were going to the Multnomah County Library Central Branch in downtown Portland with my older sister after school because the place was full of history and wonder and she could drive us there. In college I was captivated by the enormity of our library and everything it had to offer.
I joined OCLC Research as an intern in 2010 while working on my master’s in library and information management and have since moved up to full-time staff status. My work with ArchiveGrid has evolved from data clean-up tasks to helping prime our system for the future of archives and special collections research and it all happens because of the incredible work my colleagues at OCLC Research do. When I feel the old itch from my days as a newspaper reporter to write, I edit and create posts for the ArchiveGrid blog.