In this blog post, HBCU Library Preservation Intern Alicia Bush, a rising Senior at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (Tallahassee, FL), talks about her summer working with the conservation staff at the Harry Ransom Center at University of Texas Austin:
Growing up, I learned to view libraries and museums as
lively facilities where exploration and creativity could prevail, but I never
knew that I would ever work in one. This summer, I was awarded an opportunity
to travel to Austin, Texas, and intern at the University of Texas at Austin’s Harry
Ransom Center. Throughout my time there, I handled delicate collection materials,
learned innovative ways to preserve them, and applied the knowledge I gained.
To say the least, I am so grateful to be a part of this program. I took in an
overwhelming amount of information, but the staff patiently guided me and gave
me literal and symbolic tools to continue learning about this field.
When my host, Dr. Ellen Cunningham-Kruppa, gave me a tour of
the center, I remember uttering these words: “It’s like a playground in here.”
Within the first week of my internship, I saw Frida Kahlo’s self-portrait, the
Gutenberg Bible, and John Wilkes Booth’s promptbook for Richard III. I was
amazed that these artifacts were available for my viewing. Basically, the Ransom
Center is Santa’s North Pole for UT students and staff. Conservators, curators,
and archivists are eagerly working to provide Longhorns with the best research
experience they could possibly have. I’m not even kidding. Visit, and you’ll
see exactly what I mean.
One of my favorite things about this internship was
bookbinding with their book conservation fellow, Kimberly Kwan. Bookbinding is
an important skill for conservators because one needs to know how books are
constructed to treat them properly. It was extremely fun, but I was still an
amateur with a lot to learn.