Ten Things I Learned As An Archives & Library Intern

This is my last week at the New Bedford Whaling Museum (I can’t believe how quickly that went by!) I have a much longer post planned for next week, but I thought I’d start by sharing the lighthearted pieces of advice I’ve acquired over the summer.

  1. Always wear light-colored clothes. Those new black pants might look good on you, but the dust from the collections does not.
  2. My worst nightmare: an entire folder of crosshatch writing. Even worse: people who make copies of crosshatch letters. How are you supposed to read those things?
  3. Please have neat handwriting. Your archivist will thank you greatly.
  4. When Oxygen XML editor points out an issue in the code, the solution is probably way back at the beginning of the document, and not where Oxygen thinks it is located.
  5. Kids do not necessarily understand why you can’t take books out of a research library, but they are very excited about the strangest things – for instance, the card catalog.
  6. Paper clips and staples are demons of office supplies, and given time, will destroy everything in their way.
  7. There are several different types of whaling vessels: ships, brigs, barks. If you don’t know the difference, always go with “boat” or “vessel.” You will never be wrong.
  8. There is always one random paper in a collection that doesn’t seem to jibe with the rest of the materials. Just go with it – that’s what “miscellaneous” folders are for.
  9. Six hours goes by extremely quickly, unless you’re reading business correspondence. In that case, one letter feels like eons.
    1. Finding a letter that says “please destroy this so no one can read it” is a rare joy of irony. 
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