Thursday, July 28, 2011

Week 11 (last week) July 26th and 28th

Alas, blog, we come to an end, but with many new beginnings. I made a new friend and mentor in Sheila. I met other interns and was happy to know I am not alone in the world. I learned more in the last 11 weeks than the same amount of years working in the library. I learned about great resources right at my back door and will be going back there again and again.
I leave here a much better student than I came in. I have a great respect for special librarians and the connections they make and the ideas and information they contribute. I worked side by side with volunteers that, despite not having any sort of library background, their love for libraries and of the librarian keep them coming back for more. They have found their niches and work well in the library and are very knowledgeable and are a joy to work with and a wealth of information. I won't say goodbye, NOMA, just see you later.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Week 10: July 18, 19 and 21st

This week was a rather slow week in the library, but I managed to keep myself properly busy. Sheila and I are continuing to work on the project about museum libraries in the community, and Monday and Tuesday were filled with trying to come up with an appropriate survey. I never knew how complicated surveys could be. By Tuesday afternoon we had a fairly good one worked out and I proceeded to learn Microsoft Access in order to make the survey and build a database for the survey results. It was an interesting learning experience and I tried many different things and finally, with a little help from my friends, made quite a nice survey and I am as proud of it as anything. I felt very accomplished at the end of the day and feel confident that if I ever need to make a survey, I would be able to do it. It will go out on a test run next week probably and then the real work will begin not long after I am sure.
Next week is my last week, and although I will not miss the drive to get here, I am finding myself sad at leaving. This experience has been wonderful and I can honestly say that I have learned more in the last 10 weeks under Sheila than I have in the last 10 years that I have worked in a library. Internship is completely different than even working in a library. I have worked in the public sector for many years and in some places everyone has their place and everyone has their job. Aside from learning about reader's advisory and how to deal with a difficult patron, I never really had any practical experience working "behind the scenes" as it were. Working with Sheila has been an eye opening, wonderful experience and I was glad to get my feet wet in all of the things that happen in the background.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Week 9: July 12 and 14

     This week I helped Shelia with selecting the upcoming book club books. She got an advanced copy of upcoming exhibitions for the next 2 years and we looked through them and tried to match book suggestions to future exhibitions. It was very cool looking up what the exhibitions may hold when they arrive at NOMA. I am sad that I am leaving and will have to miss the installation and preparation of the exhibits, but I know I will come back and see the finished product. Now that I know all of the work that goes into getting and installing an exhibition, I have a lot more respect for them and will come and enjoy them.
     After I researched the exhibitions, Shelia and I went through and matched up the books we could from the suggestions to the exhibitions. After doing that we filled in the dates for those books and then filled in the extra months with other books Shelia wanted in the book discussions, but didn't really match up with any upcoming event. We then had to schedule them and put them in "the book". (Have ominous music play here). The schedule book for NOMA really isn't that bad. It is just very important to record things correctly in it so that double booking of the museum doesn't happen. Many events happen at NOMA whether it be a wedding, reception, anniversary, or other party and the staff has to know what is going on and when. I had to log all of the events for the library and put them in the notebook. Scheduling things in the library really isn't a big deal because if the library is needed, people usually talked to Shelia first as it is, and something can usually be worked out. However, it was interesting and important to see this notebook to understand how an institution like NOMA functions on a day to day basis.
     Another topic that came up this week was library programming successes and failures. This week was the book discussion on the Ancestors of Congo Square book.

Last week Bill Fagaly came and did a talk and a walk through of the exhibit and it was quite fascinating and a lot of people showed up to hear him talk and to go through the exhibit with him. This week, hardly anyone showed up for the discussion on the V.S. Naipaul book. Shelia also did a talk at the Jefferson Parish library about the Masque of Africa and only 5 people showed up and none of them had read the book. Library programming is hit or miss like this. Sometimes you don't expect anyone to show up and everyone in the tri-state area comes, and when you are expecting people to show, then no one does. It doesn't mean give up, necessarily, it just means keep trying until you find something that fits.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Week 8: July 7th

This week I was really looking forward to, because we had Bill Fagaly talk about his book in the book club discussion and he gave us a quick tour through his exhibition of "Ancestors of Congo Square".

I find African art, particularly the fiction that comes out of Africa quite interesting, so it was fascinating to me to learn more about the art of Africa. I didn't realize that African art as a study is young. Only about 50 or so years old. Fagaly talked about how the book came to be and how the exhibition came to be. It was really interesting hearing how the book was over 6 years in the making, with Hurricane Katrina putting things on hold for a while. He got the idea of compiling other experts in the field together to help not only put a book out about the wonderful collection NOMA has, but to help publicize the exhibition. A lot of the pieces they know little about other than where generally they came from. Sometimes they aren't even sure of the dates. It was truly fascinating and I am sad the exhibition is only up for another 2 weeks.
Going through the museum with a curator gives invaluable knowledge about the collection and helps the staff (or librarian) get information to help explain the collection to visitors or volunteers. The resources at the library at NOMA are not limited to just the library, everyone is a potential reference source there.
Before going on the walk through and listening to Bill Fagaly's talk, I did a few inter-library loans. An intern needed some books on South American art and it wasn't easy finding the books, but we filled out ILL forms for them through the Louisiana State library and hopefully we will be able to get them in. It was fun trying to find the books, especially because most of the were in Spanish. I also worked on the museum library in the community project with Shelia. I have about 5 pages of notes written up about it and I think we are ready to start the next part of the project which is a survey. I have to get into Microsoft Access and remember how to maneuver around in there. It has been a long time since I have played around with it. It is going to be a fund project and I think it will be helpful when it is finally finished. It is going to last longer than the internship, but I see it as a challenge and a way to keep in contact with Shelia after I leave.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Week 7: June 28th and 30th

The practicum is halfway over. I only have 4 more weeks and I feel like I have so much more to do in such a short amount of time. Shelia and I went over my intern orientation packet and we have covered just about everything we can cover in the four page packet (save the budget, which she does later in the year). We went through some of the books she is trying to sell on It is a time consuming process akin to cataloging. Shelia has an Abe Books account for the library and sells books that are duplicates in the library. We took some and started to post them online. It is a lot like cataloging in that you have to put the physical description of the book on the site as well as write up something about the book so that it will sell. Shelia asked me what the pros and cons of selling books online is versus selling books in a book sale on site. One site is a little easier because there is less time and effort being put into selling the book. You just unpack the book, put it on a table and sell it. Online, however, you reach a very specific and a wider audience. At a "table" sale, you may be able to get more for a book, whereas online you are competing with other sellers and may have to settle for less in order to sell your book. All in all, if you have time, Abe books may be the way to go, but with staffing and time, a table sale may also be the better solution. Librarians just have to weigh their options, and their volunteer help. 
I also worked on the Artist files this week. The library had a bit of a back log of artist files because we were waiting for the hanging folders I ordered to come in. Well, they finally came in and I sorted through the stack of materials and made artist files for them to be put in the storage room in the library. The artist files are incredibly fascinating. It is a massive filing system with information about artists gathered through the years. It could be correspondence, news clippings, mailings about an exhibition or a small booklet or chap book containing the artist's work. The files are kept mainly for artists that would not be in the general collection of the library, like more modern artists. It is incredibly educational and interesting. I could get lost in all of that information. 
I am really looking forward to this week. In conjunction with the book club meeting this month (The Masque of Africa) on Thursday Dr. Fagaly, the curator of African art, is going to do a walk through of the exhibit Ancestors of Congo Square with the group. I am really excited about that and can't wait to share what I learn!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Week 6: June 21 and 23

This week tested my cataloging abilities. ALA was approaching and the library (and Shelia's office) had to look good, so the week was a mixture of making sure the library was in ship shape and straightening up the office. Most of the books in Shelia's office (which make up the bulk of the office) need to be cataloged, so I loaded them up on the cart and started working. Shelia left me to my devices, and I was able to catalog by myself...which is kind of scary. I keep thinking that I am going to lose the books forever in the library; no one will be able to access them and the information will be lost forever. Every librarian's nightmare. However, the library did not implode on my cataloging abilities. I actually did pretty well. I am still rusty on classifying books. Ok, I'm not good at all at classifying books, but as with the other aspects of cataloging that comes with time and with thousands of books under my belt. Thank goodness for other art libraries that have some of the books that I was cataloging, because that helped out a lot with copying some of the information. Subject headings still need to be added from time to time, but most of the hard stuff was easy to come by and gave me a good start to finish cataloging the books.  I managed to do a whopping 8-10 books. Cataloging is really time consuming.

As for ALA, Shelia had an open house at the library and after the open house there was a talk about Artist Books to go along with the exhibition that Shelia help put together called "Bookmarks, Artist's response to text". I couldn't make it to the open house, but made it to the talk and was so glad I did. It was done by a married couple that are dealers of these unique items at their website Vamp and Tramp. I love the name! But, they talked about these books and how they came about to be in the business. They then showed and passed around these fantastic, creative, wonderful pieces of art that were also wonderful stories. This one was one of my favorites that I saw. It is called The Phoenix by Linda Samson-Talleur:
On one side it has the legend of the Phoenix in Anglo-Saxon and an English translation on the other side. It is awesome in its color and its creativeness.

The talk was so informative and fantastic, they really knew their stuff. I never knew things like that existed, and even after looking at the exhibit last week, I still had no real idea what these items were until I saw them in action. Part of the art is how to open the book or decipher the way to read it. It truly is an under appreciated field.

The free time I had between making sure the library was straight and cataloging I spent writing up some of the information I have gathered for the project about libraries and community involvement. I have a few pages written out of thoughts and questions that I have come up with and I thought that would be the best way to start the writing process. See what I have and what I understand and then tackle what I don't have and what I don't understand and make an outline, because those will probably go hand in hand.

As for the other project with MLA and interns, we have another recruit thanks to an article that Dr. Welsh posted on her facebook page. I saw this article and thought it was pertinent to what we were doing so I showed it to the group. Shelia then contacted Peter and asked if he would be interested in helping us out, and he will! Yay for networking and staying in touch! So far doing the paper is proving what we want to prove with internships. If interns stick together and network only good things can happen!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Week 5: June 15th and June 16th

This week was jammed packed with great information and great fun. On Wednesday the day started with the book club discussion of The Rescue Artist.
The group ended up being bigger than Shelia planned. She was expecting around 12 people, and almost 20 showed up. It was a lively, and at times difficult, discussion. When you have that many people in the room trying to discuss something, it gets a little off track and loud. The discussion was good though and a lot of the ladies in the club shared their experience actually witnessing the Scream by Munch first hand. It brings a lot to the discussion when you can relate to the story in a personal way. Another interesting thing that came up in the book discussion was a book that the group did a couple of months ago, The Girl with the Gallery. Earlier that morning while we were setting up another intern that was going through some books came across some correspondence between the then director of the museum and the subject of the Girl with the Gallery, Edith Halpert. The correspondence was guessed to have been done in the late 1950's. It was really interesting to see the book come to life in such a local way.

After the book discussion Shelia and I had to set up for intern orientation of the library. I actually helped with this by giving the other interns from the other departments of the museum a tour of the reference material that is available in the library. I had to step out of my library world and remember that not everyone has lived in a library like I have and I have to be sure to explain terminology like "call numbers" and "Dewey Decimal" and even "reference". Some of the interns hadn't been in a library since grammar school, so it was really like a completely new thing for them. I really hope to see them in the library this semester.

On Thursday Shelia and two other interns from the library took a field trip to my end of the Gulf Coast and we visited the Hancock County Historical Society for a lunch talk by the Chancery Clerk. The historical society is such a wealth of information that I think is overlooked most of the time. They are very knowledgeable and more than willing to help anyone doing research on the city, county or family.

I'll share an anecdote that the president of the society told us. He was approached by an elderly man one day wanting to know more about his father. All he knew was that his father was killed in a road accident and his mother moved away from the Hancock County area when he was still a baby. He just wanted to know more about his father's side of the family. Well, the president of the society started looking around and found out that the man's father did die in the road, but it was no accident, he had been shot 6 times by the sheriff for causing quite a disturbance (shooting up the town and such). The president of the historical society didn't have the heart to tell the old man that his father was shot, but he did give him the family information that he needed. He figured if his mother had lied to him over 80 years ago, it was best to let it be. He did say that if the man's children came looking for information, he would pass on the truth.

Rich things like this can be found at the local historical society. Who needs fiction when the truth is more entertaining. We always tend to over look the treasures right in our own back yard.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Week 4: June 7th and 9th

This week I learned about a really cool program that the NOMA library takes part in...the Publications Exchange Program. This program is in conjunction with other museums and their libraries and exchanges exhibition and collection catalogs with the museums and libraries that are interested. This week I sent out the (very large and heavy) catalog Ancestors of Congo Square: African Art in the New Orleans Museum of Art.

It is a very beautiful book with information about the current African Art exhibition on the first floor of the museum. Very interesting to walk through. We sent the books to 18 different museums and libraries that are interested in African Art. Very cool program.

Also this week there was a program in the library in conjunction with the book club that is meeting next week. The book we are reading is The Rescue Artist and in line with the book we had the head of NOMA security talk to the group about how to protect your art. Shelia and I commented after the program that we must have sounded like a ring of art thieves with all the questions we were asking. They may be watching us now. :) Wouldn't that be an interesting plot for a book.

This week Shelia and I also looked over the research I have been doing with my project. There is good news and bad news with that. The good news is that not a lot has been written on art museums and the role they have within the community and the larger construct of the museum. The bad news is, there is not a lot that has been written on art museums and the role they have within the community and the larger construct of the museum. So we are shifting focus to a more general look at special libraries and how they are involved in the community.

Next week will be fun, some time away from the museum in my neck of the woods in Hancock county with the historical society and showing Shelia and the other interns the library where I work (where there just so happens to be a Smithsonian exhibit on roots music this summer). I am definitely looking forward to sharing what the MS Coast is doing.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Week 3: May 31st and June 2nd

May 31st
This week was the week of paperwork. It is a necessary evil in the world of librarianship, this Shelia and I can agree on. We would much rather be cataloging or doing research. I had to call and get some price checks on some supplies that are needed. One of the things I was looking into was hanging files for the artist file collection. In the back room of the library (where all the cool stuff happens) there is an extensive system of artist files. These are artist that might be of interest to the museum staff or researchers and the information wouldn't be found in one of the books in the library. It's actaully really cool and I plan on getting back there sometime and really look through them. Then it was on to checking titles to see if the library needed to get them or not, and then the highlight of the day (and I mean that sarcastically) a SELA Executive Board meeting that Shelia had to call into and she had me sit in on. To say the least, it was awful. Shelia and I sat down after the meeting and she asked me what exactly was wrong with that meeting? Here's my list:
-The minutes for the meeting were e-mailed out an hour before the meeting started.
-Anything that needs to be discussed, information needs to be given.
-Reports that are scheduled to be given need to be ready to give.
-Preparation is the key.

The meeting was ill planned, ill thought out and never on topic.
One word: Frustrating.

After lunch I finished up some paperwork (P.O.'s) and unloaded some boxes that were delivered and had time to walk through the galleries again. One painting I keep thinking about and going back to is one by Dorothea Tanning and it is called Guardian Angels. I found an image of it here:

Are those birds? Is that blood? Why are there beds? Are people being eaten? Ugh! I don't know, but I can't stop looking at it!

June 2nd
Today was a day of finding out mysteries. There were some cataloging cards that had little information on them, and I was to try and track down the book so the record could be completed. The book was not found, but a second cataloging card with all the correct information on it was found. Yay! Shelia pointed out that this is one of the many reasons the library needs to be automated. Cards get misplaced, duplicated are becomes a huge mess.

I also did some more cataloging. After 2 hours I had done...2 books. This also fits in with the mystery of earlier, because we had a book that we could find no real information on in other catalogs so copy cataloging was out of the question. It was a book on Louise Bourgeois, but not on her sculptures, but rather some etchings and mixed media items. It was very interesting to go through and figure out where it needed to go, because it was different than the other books in the collection.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Week 2- May 24 and 26th

This week my job was to get to know the library and the museum a little better. I began exploring the stacks more and learning what is there and what kinds of questions the books answer and how I would go about finding the answers. One of the books I found really interesting was the Dictionary of Artists' Models. I never really though about art in that way before...there were actual models for these works of art. I looked up one of my favorite artist, Edvard Munch and found out that he used the same girl quite often and her name was Tulla (Mathilde) Larsen. Their relationship read like a soap opera. It was quite fascinating. Love triangles, exotic places, guns, the works.

I also came across a reference about Isaac Delgado. It was titled Isaac Delgado: His Life and Impact on New Orleans and the State of Louisiana by Elloyse Garthwaite and Tom Ireland. The characters I found the most interesting in the book weren't from the Delgado family, but the political characters at the time. One man, Henry J. Hearsey was a Bourbon Reactionary and was a man filled with hate...the list of things he could tolerate would probably be far shorter than the list of things he despised. He was a white supremacist who hated the north, African Americans, white reformers and public education. He was very interesting to me. Another character was Charles T. Howard. He was a vindictive man, who, after being denied membership to the Metairie Racing Club, vowed he would not rest until the club was destroyed. He later bought the club, turned it into a cemetery and was buried there. Now that, my friends, is commitment.

I then took a tour of the galleries with Shelia and got to see the amazing exhibition of Madeline Albright's pins. They were absolutely amazing and creative and colorful and full of meaning. My favorite is the one that had concrete from the Berlin wall. It was so crude and simple in its beauty and symbolism. I learned a little about each floor and will be walking through it more often to get to know the galleries. This will help me answer questions that might come up about the collection.

Later in the week I had to use an extra reference book to decipher another one. The Monogram Lexikon is in German, and I needed the dictionary to navigate the book and to understand the indices. I couldn't help but think that the signatures and stamps that are found in the Monogram Lexikon are art among themselves. How much though and effort got put into those signatures?

I then helped get periodicals together to be sent off to the bindery and then got to do some research on the project Shelia has me working on this semester. The amount of information out there about museums and their libraries is far between. I know why Shelia needs help getting some research done, it isn't easy because there isn't much out there, hence putting together this project.

Once again I got to take a walk at lunch time and this time I walked through the sculpture garden and got to spend time among the beautiful and sometimes creepy sculptures. Blue Dog by George Rodrigue is one of my favorites...

And this spider gave me the heebie jeebies. Even though it was kind of creepy, it's good in that it does invoke some sort of emotional response. So much fun!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Week 1: May 17 and 19

This week was the first week of my practicum at the New Orleans Museum of Art Felix J. Dreyfous Library. To say the least, my brain is in overdrive processing everything I have learned thus far. To say the most, I am having a great time. So far I am going to have to look back at my cataloging notes to refresh myself on Dewey and Cutter constructing and the different fields and how to punctuate the fields. I have done a little copy cataloging, and need to brush up on it. Cataloging seems like such a breeze in class, but in the real world, where people are counting on you to catalog the book properly so that they can find it, the pressure is on, and I find myself sweating it a little. It is a slow process, but Shelia (the librarian) is patient and such a wonderful teacher. You can't expect everything to be instant. It takes a lot of work for those books to get on the shelf.
I am glad I am of the generation that remembers card catalogs...yes, the giant wood thing that is gathering dust in the back closet of your library...I'm actually using it. I have to say, even though it is looking through cards, it's not much different than looking for something in the computer. You still have to think of all the terms and fields the terms could be in of a book you are looking for, but instead of typing it, you just look for it in the drawers. Even with the electronic system I use at my regular job I sometimes still have to type in several different things before I find what I am looking for, and the same thing with the card catalog. Sometimes you get it first try and sometimes you have to get creative. It's not hard to get creative with this thing.

I am loving it. It reminds me of my elementary school days of browsing the cards and being in awe of what I could find in the library. I'm having some mad flashbacks. But, I digress.

I am starting to learn my way around the references available and I am having a good time looking through them. Shelia and myself come from similar backgrounds (and similar areas, she used to work across the bridge from where I do!) and knows that learning about a special library is a slow process, but I think I will do OK. It just takes some experimenting and looking, which I love to do anyway. I'm a proverbial bull in a china shop when it comes to information, I don't know where to go next.

Shelia and I also discussed a project that I am to work on for the summer. I will be doing research on art museum libraries and community involvement. I am to come up with references and an outline on the role of the museum library in the museum and how to be an integral part of the museum. I am truly looking forward to doing that research.

NOMA is such an interesting place, and so many interesting and knowledgeable people are there from the docents on up to the curators. I am truly looking forward to the rest of the summer...and more walks with views like this: