What do you do?
I am a digital imaging technician. I am responsible for fulfilling digitization requests of books, loose documents, and photographic materials for both internal and external researchers. I also contribute to long-term digitization efforts such as the Field Book Project, Record Unit 158 (United States National Museum Curators' Annual Reports), and other grant-funded projects. Imaging an item is only step one of a multi-step process for creating preservation-quality digital surrogates of our collections. Typically what follows image capture are the more time-consuming tasks of image processing, metadata creation, and uploading files to our digital asset management system.
Favorite spot in DC to recommend to visitors:
The Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens. This beautiful and unique location was the former Washington D.C. home of heiress and socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post, and now serves as a museum specializing in 18th century French decorative arts and Russian imperial art. The collection also boasts Post's personal collection of jewelry and accessories, and even two Fabergé eggs! I would recommend going in the spring or summer, when the 13 acres of formal gardens are in full bloom.
One of the first collections I worked with, which continues to be one of my favorites, is Record Unit 7310, the Doris Holmes Blake Papers. Blake was an entomologist with the Smithsonian for an astonishing 50 years (1928-1978), the overwhelming majority of that time unpaid. Her collection comprises both her professional and personal lives. As part of the American Women's History Initiative, I have been digitizing portions of her collection for the past several months. What has left a lasting impression on me is the depth and intimacy of her correspondence with family members, particularly her daughter (also named Doris) and mother. Talking about anything and everything, it revealed a window into life in the early and mid 20th century that I had not expected to find, and I couldn't help but feel connected to the ways in which our lives today are more or less the same, or in some cases, drastically different.