Reflecting on a Semester’s Worth of Writing about Special Collections & University Archives

Photograph of white female student, long hair with glasses, close-up in a library office setting (cubicle & book shelves filled with books visible in the background).

Photograph courtesy of Cassandra.

This blog post was authored by Curation Services Student Writer Cassandra Anderson.

Writing for Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) has been an eye opening experience. I have found photographs and manuscripts that I would have never even known about had I not started this job. Sorting through photos of campus throughout the years is so interesting, because there are thousands of them and you truly never know what you were going to find. When I came across the photo from last week’s Facebook post of the students carrying the computers through the snow, I was just casually looking for cool snow pictures and I knew that I had to share that one. Within that box, there are some other awesome photos of winters throughout history of ISU including these! The history of our campus is so rich and interesting, you just have to start looking.

When you are researching a topic, it is easy to get frustrated and lose your determination to learn about the subject. One of the hardest parts of my job so far has been researching student organizations. I have found that a lot of times, not every student organization makes it into the ISU yearbook, The Bomb. Sometimes organizations will have manuscript folders in the archives, but they won’t have anything about them within The Bomb which is incredibly frustrating when you want to find photographs of an organization. You just have to remember to keep your head up, and keep digging, because you truly never know when something unexpected is going to appear within your research that may make the struggle worth it.

Cover of book The End of Eternity by Isaaac Asimov, has mn standing in front of what looks like old radio equipment. Text on cover is in white, black, and orange, rest of cover is black-and-white.

Here is another cool cover from a book within the Margaret Young Science Fiction Collection. This is The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov. Call Number PS 3551.S5E5x.

Something I tend to forget about when researching in the SCUA is that we have rare books. In fact, we even have a Rare Books and Manuscripts Archivist, Amy Bishop! I know that it seems pretty obvious that a place titled “Special Collections and University Archives” would have rare books, but sometimes it just totally slips my mind! However, I have been doing quite a bit of work researching the rare books recently, from the miniature book collection to the Margaret Young Science Fiction collection, and it is so much fun! There is something so cool about old books, there is always something unique about them. If I had to pick a favorite item to research, it would be rare books. I could easily spend hours going through the pages of a single book. From the cover art to the binding, something sets each book apart from the rest of them. Some books even have crazy backstories, which make them even more interesting! This job has opened me up to a world of new possibilities when it comes to working in an archival field, and specializing in Rare Books and Manuscripts is now on the top of my list.

 

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