I’m Sidne and I am one of the new graduate students working at the Detroit Sound Conservancy on the Graystone Collection. I am a graduate student at Wayne State University pursuing a master’s degree in English and in Library Science with the intent to one day complete a PhD in English. For one of my courses, I was required to do a practicum which allowed me the chance to take my skills learned in class and apply them in a practical setting. As someone who has spent most of their life hunched over books and pouring over theory, getting to actually utilize what I have learned in an academic setting in the ‘real world’ was a combination of thrilling as well as a bit fear inducing. What has been my favorite part about volunteering here is getting to actually work on building an archive from the ground up with the guidance of archivist Michelle McKinney. I don’t think that most archival students get an opportunity to do something like this so this has been an invaluable experience for me.
My first project was to perform a survey of the Graystone’s visual collection which includes a variety of materials such as photographs, prints, framed posters, rolled posters, negatives, and film. What has been interesting in this process is the sheer amount of visual materials that this collection contains. Surveying, however, is a time consuming portion of the archival process (especially with such a large collection). It can be easy to get sucked into a particularly interesting box or get personally distracted by an incredible poster when you are trying to describe each and every box in a way that helps you to create accession order. This is both the beauty and the downside of this portion of the preservation process. More recently, I have been scanning some of the images from the collection using the lab at Wayne State so that we will have a digital collection for researchers. Scanning is a time consuming project because you want to get a great scan and this doesn’t always happen the first time around. Wayne State has been generous enough to provide its students with a lab and assistance in scanning and editing of photos.
My semester may be coming to an end but I will be at the DSC over the summer fulfilling my final practicum before I graduate from Wayne State. I am looking forward to helping make this archive fully functional and to be a part of a great institution in downtown Detroit.