The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Where Are They Now?
Every summer, and sometimes fall, the Archives welcomes interns who are interested in getting some hands-on experience in an archival environment. The Digital Services Division wanted to catch up with some of its former interns to see what they are up to now.
- Interned at the Smithsonian Institution Archives: Summer 2009
- Project/Focus: Digital Preservation (migration of digital files, inventory of assets, digitization of analog materials and metadata entry, and development of digitization methodology)
- Favorite Memory: It was really exciting and enriching to get to use what I learned in the classroom in a real archival institution. I especially enjoyed getting to work with historic primary sources.
- What are You Doing Now?: I am the Digital Assets Manager for the Portland Art Museum in Portland, Oregon, since 2010. I create, migrate, preserve, and catalog digital assets and am part of a team working hard to increase access to art digitally.
- Blog Post: To Market, To Market, The Bigger Picture blog
- Interned at the Smithsonian Institution Archives: Summer 2010 while I was getting my masters from the University of Michigan, School of Information.
- Project/Focus: Conversion of Digital Audio Tape (DAT) recordings of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra from the 1990s. The recordings had to be converted in real time, which meant I got to enjoy jazz concerts nearly eight hours a day. However, if something went wrong, I had to start the conversion of that tape all over, which meant I had to be careful to avoid software/hardware disruptions and crashes - more delicate work than it seems! In addition to the conversions, I also prepared a report on the format and the best practices of converting DAT recordings. My internship at the Archives is one of my fondest memories of grad school. I immensely enjoyed getting to know the staff, volunteers, and other interns at the Archives, as well as all the exciting projects they were working on. Those three months went by much too quickly!
- Favorite Memory: Beyond the archives, I loved experiencing Washington, D.C., in the summertime. Having Fridays off allowed me to explore many, but sadly not all, of the museums and sights in the area. One of my favorites was the National Museum of American History and its dresses of the First Ladies exhibit. I also was able to take in a game at the Nationals' ballpark (the Giants won . . . and would later go on to win the World Series that year!), and watch the fireworks from the Lincoln Memorial on July 4th. Yes, it was hot, muggy, and very crowded, but it was all well worth it.
- What are You Doing Now?: Currently I am an instructional designer at San Francisco State University. I work with faculty to (re)design and improve their courses, whether they are face-to-face, hybrid, or fully online. I also help instructors incorporate instructional technology into their courses in order to ensure every student gets the most out of the course, and hopefully help the instructors use their time more efficiently. Though not an archive or museum, working in academic technology allows me to be at the heart of a university, solve interesting problems, and work to make the higher education experience better for all.
- Blog Post: Swingin' and Swayin' in the Archives, The Bigger Picture blog
Carrie Tallichet Smith
- Interned at the Smithsonian Institution Archives: June 2010 - February 2011.
- Project/Focus: I participated in a wide variety of projects, many of which involved digitizing analog materials, recording metadata, and performing quality control. I worked with digitizing and collecting metadata for a large quantity of photographs. I also contributed to a project to convert DATs to WAV format and fulfilled some researcher requests requiring audio-video migration. Lastly, I researched and prepared training materials for embedding IPTC metadata into digitized images. This involved merging metadata stored in a Microsoft Access database with the corresponding images.
- Favorite Memory: I have two. The first would be the weekly ritual of doing the crossword with Ricc Ferrante and Peter Finkel over lunch. The second would be forming the Smithsonian Human Sunburst during the staff picnic. See the picture with the arrow pointing to me.
- What are You Doing Now?: As of November 2013, I am an Archivist in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Special Access unit of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Previously, I was a Reference Archivist in NARA's Electronic Records Division.
Robin Camille Davis
- Interned at the Smithsonian Institution Archives: Summer 2011 as web preservation intern.
- Project/Focus: I set up the initial web preservation workflow for Smithsonian-created web content. In two months, we captured more than 680,000 pieces of content, ready to be appraised and preserved.
- Favorite Memory: My favorite place in DC is the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. After work on Fridays, some of the other interns and I would go there to listen to live jazz and eat salty chocolate cookies from Teaism.
- What are You Doing Now?: I am the Emerging Technologies & Distance Services Librarian at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. I love my job - I explore how new technologies can facilitate knowledge discovery and creation in an academic library. By night, I'm also a graduate student in Computational Linguistics at the CUNY Graduate Center, studying natural language processing.
- Anything Else to Add: Doing real work in the Archives was such a blast - what I learned hands-on at the Archives, I use every day in my job!
- Blog Posts: Five Tips for Designing Preservable Websites and Saving the Smithsonian's Web, The Bigger Picture blog
- Interned at the Smithsonian Institution Archives: Summer 2011
- Project/Focus: Assessment and preservation recommendations for digital video accessioned at SIA.
- Favorite Memory: Crossword puzzle lunches. It's amazing how quickly a group of archivists can solve a crossword puzzle. A close second were daily, rooftop lunches overlooking DC. Tied for second was riding my bike over a closed-to-traffic Arlington bridge after 4th of July fireworks on the Mall.
- What are You Doing Now?: I'm an interaction designer in San Francisco at Practice Fusion, which is a free, web-based electronic health records (EHR) platform for ambulatory care. I get to design the user interface for a records management solution that holds more than 80 million patient records.
- Blog Posts: Digital Video Preservation: Identifying Containers and Codecs and Digital Video Preservation: Further Challenges for Preserving Digital Video and Beyond, The Bigger Picture blog
Julianna M. Barrera-Gomez
- Interned at the Smithsonian Institution Archives: I interned at the Archives in the summer of 2011, as part of an IMLS-funded project from the University Of Michigan, School Of Information that linked aspiring archivists with host institutions for internships.
- Project/Focus: I got to work with Lynda Schmitz Fuhrig and Ricc Ferrante in the Digital Services Division, where I learned how to process digital material that came in with various accessions.
- Favorite Memory: I was absorbed in processing the born-digital collections of Dr. Devra Kleiman, a research scientist at the National Zoological Park. It really made me think about the issues involved in accessioning born-digital collections, the dangers of obsolescence, the importance of metadata (and how it can be missing, lost, or changed) and the impact archival processing can have on users who may need to make sense of her data. Processing this collection really sparked my interest in research and academic records, which was a major driver in my future career decisions.
- What are You Doing Now?: I am the University Archivist at the University of Texas at San Antonio, busily accessioning, processing, describing, curating, and facilitating access to our many collections, which are in nearly every format imaginable.
- Anything Else to Add?: I felt like I'd landed the Most Amazing Internship Ever while I worked at the Archives. I still can’t believe how beneficial it was for me to get the chance to process digital collections, and even take charge of a collection I could explore in-depth. But working at the Archives did more than build my archival skills. All of the archivists, volunteers, and other staff at the Archives were generous with their time and shared their skills and knowledge freely. It was an excellent place to learn.
- Blog Post:Passwords and Paper Printouts: Preserving the Electronic Records of the Devra Kleiman Papers, The Bigger Picture blog
- Interned at the Smithsonian Institution Archives: Fall 2011
- Project/Focus: CAD (Computer Assisted Design) archiving and preservation research of Smithsonian architectural plans.
- Favorite Memory: My favorite part of interning at the Archives was getting to work with records from around the entire Institution. On a day-to-day basis I was able to work with a wide variety of materials from a number of different and interesting disciplines. I also enjoyed being able to take part in collaborative efforts with other organizations and institutions around the country, and the world, as we continued to develop strategies and methodologies for archiving born-digital materials.
- What are You Doing Now?: I now work as a contractor for the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. As part of the Office of Curatorial Affairs, I manage our digital assets, including audio, video, and still images, as well as oversee our rights and reproductions efforts.
- Blog Post: Digital Dilemma: Preserving Computer Aided Design (CAD) Files, The Bigger Picture blog
The Smithsonian Institution has many internship opportunities. Learn more from the Office of Fellowships & Internships.