Queens College GSLIS 730 Practicum 2013 / 2014
GSLIS 730 Archival Appraisal, Arrangement, and Access students in the Fall and Spring of the 2013/2014 academic year, all selected from a small offering of practicums for part of their course credit. Students on the Queens Memory team gained hands-on digital archives experience doing two mini-projects over the course of the semester. The first project for students on the Queens Memory team involved oral histories. The Queens College Institutional Archives has a backlog of unprocessed oral histories conducted over the past 30+ years with faculty and community members. The Department of Special Collections and Archives staff have migrated these recordings from cassette tape to a robust format for digital preservation. The interviews are now safe, but remain inaccessible to the public because they have not been described or cleared for access by their copyright holders. Each student completed a timecode outline according to the Queens Memory timecode outline format requirements for one of these unprocessed oral history interviews. Once this outline was complete, the student did some research to track down the interview participants and used a letter template and consent form to share that outline with the participants for their review and approval to share the interview with researchers and online. The students got valuable donor relations experience and learned about informed consent and ethical best practices for oral histories in archival collections. Interactions between students who process these interviews and the people in the recordings were often reported as the most satisfying and meaningful work of the semester.
The second project for students on the Queens Memory team involved images of Queens College. Students digitized a small group of photos from the Queens College Institutional Photography Collection. They learned best practices for scanning and file naming conventions by following the Department of Special Collections and Archives digitization policy. Following a set of instructions, students then posted these images to the Queens College Collections on historypin.com, a rich, interactive digital environment where institutional collections are posted to a public map alongside contributions from the public. Historypin allows users to capture and upload contemporary photos using their smart phones that line up with the perspective of historical photos, which is the last step of the photography portion of the students’ assignment. Due to student efforts, the Historypin map of Queens College is now populated with historic and contemporary photography of the many buildings and public spaces on campus. The assignment gave students a reason to explore the campus, and an opportunity to make a personal connection to Queens College that is often absent for busy commuter students in graduate programs.