On Wednesday, March 11, we made the decision to close the reading room the following Saturday. In those final days the reading room was filled with faculty, researchers, and graduate students utilizing the seven reading room scanners to image material they would need for their courses and research. Our staff immediately stepped in to offer support, routing material for scanning to the Libraries’ Digital Production Center (DPC), digitizing material on staff scanners. After the reading room closed, staff spent a day scanning material for Duke classes to finish the spring semester. Below are just a few stories of how Rubenstein Library staff are making material available to researchers during the pandemic.
Hope Ketcham Geeting, Research Services Assistant
For the past two years, Building Duke, a Bass Connections course, has used University Archives to research the development of the campus from 1924 through present. During the spring semester, Dr. Kristin Huffman brought the Building Duke students to the reading room multiple times each week for research. As we began preparing to close the reading room, reproduction staff worked closely with Dr. Huffman to digitize the material her students would need to complete the semester. Since scanners were in high demand, many large blueprints went to the DPC for digitization and I worked with Dr. Huffman to digitize the rest in the reading room. Collectively we were able to scan all of the materials needed for Building Duke to complete the semester.
Matthew Farrell, Digital Records Archivist
Since my work is mostly back-of-house, I don’t frequently work with Rubenstein Library researchers directly. That said, since starting remote work in mid-March, I’ve been as busy as ever. Making newly (and in some cases, not-so-newly) acquired born-digital files ready for our processing archivists to describe has taken a front seat and involves:
- Identifying collections appropriate for remote arrangement and description (e.g., collections that are not too large, have as few “weird” file formats as possible);
- Refining documentation, which was definitely geared toward having physical access to our spaces and collections; and,
- Juggling remote access to our electronic records processing workstations.
Similar to on-site work, this involves a lot of wrangling information in various forms (e.g. spreadsheets, calendars, documentation) and keeps the boredom at bay.
Amy McDonald, Assistant University Archivist
For the University Archives, the end of each academic year usually brings a flurry of discussions with undergraduate student group leaders interested in archiving their groups’ past year of records. This year—even as students scattered to their homes and the University Archives staff began working from home—was no different. Digital Records Archivist Matthew Farrell and I worked with a number of student groups—including the Native American Student Alliance, theater performance group, All of the Above, and the Duke Club Ballroom Dance—to either archive new records or begin conversations about what the archiving process would look like for them. We’re so pleased that the pandemic hasn’t prevented these student voices from joining the University Archives’ collections!
Kelly Wooten, Research Services and Collection Development Librarian for the Sallie Bingham Center
At the end of March, after closing the Rubenstein Library’s reading room, I noticed a tweet from the account @fanzines looking for the zine Girl Jock from the early 1990s. They were having trouble locating copies after seeing a mention of the title. The Bingham Center has a few issues in our zines and periodicals collection, and I recalled taking pictures of the covers in a history class session on Men, Women, and Sport earlier in the semester. We don’t have the zines digitized, but these handy photographs were able to fulfill some curiosity on the fly. The reply from @fanzines: “Wowowow! Thank you so much, Kelly! This is awesome. Interesting that they made the leap to a professionally printed magazine.”