Before we head into 2020 and begin planning a new lineup of events for the spring semester, we’d like to reflect on what a spectacular fall semester it was — all thanks to an engaged group of returning students, and an incoming group of equally enthusiastic ones. Here’s a look at some of the events we shared with our Pratt community.
Yale’s Beinecke Library Trip
In October, we hopped on a train to Connecticut to enjoy autumnal colors and go behind the scenes at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University. Visiting in person is the best way to experience this weirdly magnificent building, with translucent marble that allows just a little light to shine through. The exhibition hall is open to the public — so you, too, can see their copies of Audubon’s Birds of America and the Gutenberg Bible (whose pages, contrary to popular legend, are not turned often for an undergraduate to read the whole thing during their time at Yale) — and the reading room is accessible to registered researchers.
But we were fortunate to meet with several librarians and archivists who showed us around beyond the public areas. The Beinecke is known for a number of collecting areas, but is particularly strong in American literature, and we saw examples of books (multiple copies of Peter Pan) and heard fascinating stories about the challenges of collecting materials from living authors (one of whom’s includes correspondence in which they wrote something along the lines of, “I would tell you, except this letter is going to end up at Yale”). These librarians and archivists (including a Pratt alum) were incredibly generous with their time and insights, about the Beinecke and about their work and about librarianship in general, and we are so thankful to them all.
And yes, we also had some delicious New Haven pizza.
This semester, we launched a monthly series to highlight the work of Pratt School of Information graduates, while providing current students a chance to hear about professional paths and make connections with librarians in the area. We heard about opportunities to provide volunteer reference services to the incarcerated via NYPL, learned about the surprising instructional aspects of librarianship in a corporate library and archives, and found out what it takes to build engaging comics programming. Again, we can’t thank Emily, Deimosa, and Leigh enough for sharing their time and expertise with us.
Tours: Explorers Club & AMNH
Being in New York City provides us with access to an incredible range of libraries, archives, and museums, and we were able to visit two fascinating ones this semester.
First, we explored the 114-year-old Explorers Club and its library and archives, which include books, maps, and films about travel and exploration. Retired club flags that club members brought on expeditions line one room, including flags that have been to space and on deep-sea missions. We also heard a great example of the unexpected skills you pick up outside of school: the Archivist and Curator of Research Collections has three taxidermists’ numbers on file in case of a conservation emergency.
Paintings hanging on a wall in the stairwell at the Explorers Club were sketches for the backdrops of the magnificent dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History, where we enjoyed another tour. Show a group of library science students some cool visualizations made using metadata, a 1558 encyclopedia about sea creatures, and a page from Darwin’s notebook, and you’ll really be playing to your audience.
Finally, we hosted a hands-on session led by alum Emma Karin Eriksson, who shared some of the best practices she’s learned for leading zine workshops for kids, teens, and undergrads. Scheduled during the end of the semester, we enjoyed a fair amount of therapeutic cutting and pasting, which was a welcome break from final projects.
We’ve got some equally engaging events in the works for the spring 2020 semester, but we always welcome your ideas. Feel free to email us at email@example.com, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for announcements about events throughout the year.
Thanks to everyone who joined us at these events, as well as at our meetings, student group happy hours, and school-wide events. And the greatest thanks go out to all the professional librarians, archivists, curators, and more who provided time and valuable insights to help us make these events happen.
–Mary Bakija, PALA President