Most archives are reliant on the help of interns and volunteers, and VC is no different. This summer, the Archives was lucky to benefit from two interns. Christine Lew, an incoming senior at Occidental College, worked with us for the past two months. We loved having her around and her creativity and hardworking nature inspired us! We’re excited to keep in touch with her and see what great things she does in the future.
Hi, I’m Christine, and I interned in the Visual Communications Archives this summer. Working at the Archives has been an amazing experience and allowed me to appreciate preservation work and the importance of storing information. Archival work, I learned, is much more than cataloging, organizing or looking at old photos (actually some of them are really cool!). Archival work is all about protecting and maintaining important documents for future generations to learn from and understand; it helps us appreciate our pasts and the lessons we have learned.
My responsibilities included assisting VC’s Preservation Manager, Helen, with multiple tasks and projects including cataloging, digitization of pages and pages of negatives, and the creation of this blog to increase public awareness of the VC Archives. In addition to my Preservation responsibilities, I contributed to other intern projects, creating a Kazari for the annual Little Tokyo Tanabata Festival and directing two short film interviews featuring popular Asian American media makers. My favorite part of this internship was creating this blog on WordPress, because it was an opportunity to showcase the amazing photographs we have in our collections. Our goal was to use the blog as a way to generate interest in the Archives and to educate the public about what the Archives does. My favorite blog post is the one featuring photos from the 1984 Olympics as they display the friendly rivalry between countries in competitions.
The knowledge behind archives and preservation work is vast, and the biggest take away for me is that there is so much more to archival work than it seems. It makes me fully appreciate libraries, museums, galleries and archives, because people like conservators and archivists work hard to make these precious documents available to everyone in the present and in the future. There is so much chemistry and details behind the documents that preservation is a whole world on its own.
Archival work has taught me another very important lesson: nothing lasts forever. Much of archival work is creating conditions and safeguards against any damages from the elements: water, air, heat, light and other various factors. But over time, documents and photographs can and will eventually degrade. We don’t realize how little time these objects last, and we take their lifespans for granted, assuming they’ll outlast us. And in the age of modern technology and vast amounts of information at our fingertips, it is important to learn how to use that technology to preserve information for generations to come.
I want to thank everyone at Visual Communications for giving me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I have experienced so much, learned a lot, and feel so privileged to be attached to the Visual Communications’ community and organization. My words cannot fully express my gratitude; I can only say that this really is the best internship I’ve experienced and I will definitely cherish the memories and the friendships I’ve made here.
Peace, love, and red bean cakes,