Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Working at Hoover: An Intern's View

Our student interns, often from San Jose State's library program, bring fresh perspectives and energy to the Hoover Archives. Some interns process archival collections, and others catalog audio recordings. This year Oanh Tran, a capable
and enthusiastic cataloger, has been working with us. She wrote this guest entry:

"If I ever conduct a survey asking my friends and relatives what they know about archival institutions, I am sure their answers would be very simple and short. How do I know that? I know that because I was one of them. I also had an extremely limited knowledge of what an archive really was. I knew the definition of the term ‘archive’ and that archives were where historical materials were stored. I did not know how the work was done on those materials in order for them to be usable. I did not know how archival materials were stored, and neither did I know there were archival collections in different languages. There were so many things I did not know about archives.

"Luckily for me, I was accepted to do my internship at the Hoover Institution Archives. It has been an eye-opening experience for me to be able to learn so many things I did not know about. On the first day of my internship, I was taken on a tour to be introduced to the staff. As I listened to the title of each person, I realized the survival of this archive not only depended on the administration but also on many people with different skill sets and specialties. I realized that everyone at the archives worked well together to create its current success. Then I was even more amazed to have a tour in the basement, where I could see how the archival collections were stored. It was a pleasure for me to look at the types of collections available, the types of materials and how they were carefully taken care of by the staff at the archives. I felt very happy after that tour because it helped broaden my knowledge.

"My main task as an intern at the archives is to catalog the audio recordings in the Commonwealth Club of California records, something I have enjoyed doing very much. By reading the summaries of the recordings, I am actually learning about the issues that were important to our country back in the 1980s. In addition, I have become more experienced with cataloging. Sometimes I would encounter certain small problems such as choosing the appropriate Library of Congress subject headings. That is when I turn to my supervisor and the archives’ cataloger for guidance. They have been a great resource in helping me do my job more successfully.

"I am still doing my internship at the Hoover Institution Archives. Each day of my internship is still as exciting and another great learning experience for me. I am proud of having finished cataloging the last half of the Commonwealth Club's audio recordings for 1980. I am currently working on the recordings for 1981, and I have set as my goal cataloging all of them before my internship ends. I am looking forward to achieving that goal and making my experience at the archives a great asset for my future career.”

Accessing the Catalog of the Commonwealth Club of California Records, Hoover Institution Archives

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