Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Conservation Internships

In 2007, Preservation Services established a rapport with what was then the conservation program at the University of Texas Kilgarlin Center for Study of the Cultural Record, by serving as an internship host site. These 9-month internships were designed to provide advanced conservation experience to third-year students in the program. In August of that year we were fortunate to host our first intern, Lauren Telepak. Hosting a student such as Lauren was a pleasure, as she had much to share from her studies and workshops. In exchange, we provided a working environment in which she could tangibly integrate her skills and knowledge. One of the activities Lauren participated in was the extensive staff orientation that is provided for new library staff. Lauren was exposed to many operations and departments she might not otherwise have known about. One of the many benefits of hosting interns, especially those from established programs, is the opportunity for us to learn new techniques and skills that are being taught in the programs.

Lauren showing re-moistenable tissue

Often conservation interns do not have any training or supervising experience, so we try to provide opportunities for the interns to work with our part-time students. Lauren was also able to teach in the Book Arts Workshop, which gave her some classroom teaching experience. Lauren is now the Collections Conservator for the Harvard College Library.

Lauren training a student to do circulating collections repair

Our second intern from the Texas program was Helen Bailey. Helen had a strong background in digital technology along with her interest in conservation. One of the options I like to offer our interns is the chance to explore new venues and potential interests other than just conservation. During Helen's time here, she took advantage of this opportunity by shadowing some of the librarians in other departments and spending some time on the reference desk. She also taught workshops for the Book Arts program and was the project coordinator for the redesign of our department web site. By the end of her internship, we had reorganized our department staff, which resulted in a new position that incorporated conservation knowledge and digital preservation development. I am pleased to say that Helen is still with us in this new position!

Helen Bailey

Summer Internships:

In 2008, while attending a party marking the closing of Aikos Japanese paper store in Chicago, Becky Saki, who had been the store manager there for five years and worked there for over fifteen years, came to me and said "Now what am I going to do?" I knew Becky had taken some conservation classes and that she was interested in learning more, so I said "Well maybe you can come up to Dartmouth for the summer and do a crash course in conservation," and with that, the kick-off for our summer internship program was established.

With a much shorter time frame to learn, it is more of a challenge to be diligent and structured in setting the outline for skills to learn. Becky was a quick study and was soon exploring more complex treatment beyond basic book repair. After Becky returned to Chicago, she was hired for a part time job at the Newberry Library working on a long term grant project and a part time position at the Ryerson Library at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she utilized many of the skills learned here. She has gone on to learn fine binding skills with Scott Kellar and had a book juried into the Chicago Public Library "One Book Many Interpretations" exhibit.

Becky Saki

The next summer we hosted Jill Iacchei who came to us with more of a book arts interest (unfortunately I don't have a photo of Jill). Jill had learned bookbinding more or less on her own, but had also sought out private lessons with Daniel Kelm in East Hampton MA. She was a Montessori teacher and wanted to change her career path. Having excellent listening skills and an eye for detail, she quickly picked up many of the conservation skills that were new to her. Pursuing her book arts interest, she applied and was accepted to the Iowa Book Arts Program. During this time she worked part-time in the conservation lab there. The Book Arts Program gives students a well-rounded education, from the history of book binding to the creation of fine books. This past year, she graduated and was hired for a one year fellowship in conservation at Stanford University.

In 2010 we entered into a relationship with North Bennet Street School to provide an official summer internship program for the book binding students.

Our first intern was McKey Berkman, who had a sound background of bookbinding experience. Students coming from North Bennet are exposed to traditional book binding as well as some conservation work. At the time she arrived, our College Archivist wanted to have some work done on the scrap book of Robert May, the creator of Ruldolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I thought this would make a perfect project for McKey that would provide a challenging and satisfying outcome. McKey has graduated and now has a studio space where she does private bookbinding and conservation work.

Mckey looking at the Robert May scrap book with College Archivist Peter Carini

Our second North Bennet intern, Arini Esarey, had already graduated when she came and had experience working in a conservation lab part-time as a student. While here, she was able to explore some of her more personal interests which included Islamic binding and color matching using different techniques. She went on to do an internship with London artist Su Blackwell and is now looking to spend time in Turkey researching book binding there.

Arini Esarey

Currently we are happy to host two interns at the same time, Lauren Schott, a first year student, and Becky Koch, a recent graduate.

Lauren Schott

Becky Koch

It has been a pleasure having two students here at the same time, as they are able to share what they have learned with each other. It also contributes to good conversation and group problem solving, and I am able to teach two people at once which makes my time more efficient. On a day-to-day basis I try to work with them individually as well as together, and have set up "touch base" meetings separately to be able to address their individual interests and focuses.

All in all, I find it a great and satisfying activity to host interns. It is an all-around win-win dynamic as we are able to complete a significant amount of work and move ahead on special projects and batch treatments. In return, the interns are exposed to a practical, working conservation environment and become more versed in conservation treatment options. I try to give each intern a special project so that they have at least one new show piece for their portfolio. We also provide a context in which conservation and preservation exists within the library and college environment, and help the interns learn more about this by setting up meetings with heads of departments, the Dean of Libraries, and an in depth tour of special collections. It also is very fulfilling to see how each of our interns finds their own individual way into the field either in preservation, book arts or both.

Written by Deborah Howe.

No comments:

Post a Comment