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Digital Observations

Walking into the Tamiment Library is like walking into a time capsule of the pre-computer era.  Card catalogs still line the walls, and there are more microfilm readers than public-use computers in the reading room.  Looks can be deceiving, however; the library maintains an active website that includes online finding aids, research guides, PDF title lists of uncataloged items, and several online exhibits via Flickr.Much of my work involved physically arranging and rehousing print materials, and as such involved little of the digital realm.  It did, however, necessitate the use of several computer programs, including Access and Archivists’ Toolkit, as well as online databases and NYU’s catalog, BobCat.  Updating the Access database required having access to Tamiment’s networked files, which proved more difficult to arrange than expected.  It took two full weeks for NYU’s IT department to set up my workspace with the correct level of access.

My workspace was near the other student workers, including a student who was charged with scanning materials.  Everything from creating a PDF of an invoice to scanning items for a Flickr exhibit, or to create a poster for an in-house exhibit.  Many times the library pages were assigned tasks that required a computer but were forced to wait until I–or another more permanent desk holder–left for the day.  Or, the task would require access to the networked drive, which was only available on select computers.  This is something I’ve noticed throughout my professional career; as processes become more dependant on the digital world, there is a gap between available hardware to complete the task.

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