I realize I haven’t posted here for the last year. In part it’s because in February 2017 I began working as book and paper conservator at the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS). Whenever one begins working for a large institution there’s a steep learning curve. I was warned it would take a year for me to feel settled in, and that’s roughly correct!
One of the benefits of working at such a large organization, though, is the fact that there are so many other people whose expertise one can call on. For instance, at the moment, I’m working with the Education Department to polish up the training we give library staff on the care and handling of library materials. MNHS has a vast and varied collection that includes, for instance, what sometimes seems like an inordinate number of oversized maps, and some truly wonderful (and awkward to handle) scrapbooks. This means that training on handling these items is key to preventing damage. However, since there are so many types of item and things to cover in the training, it’s hard to bring it all together in a coherent and interesting whole. And I definitely don’t have the background in adult education that the Education Department does!
Collaborations like these are the best part of working in an institution. They can be hard work — coordinating schedules is the least of one’s problems! — but it’s great to have these opportunities to learn from one’s colleagues and grow one’s own sphere of knowledge. I’m really looking forward to what comes out of this — and I’m already planning more collaborations!