Library Day in the Life – Micah V. Edition

I’m proud to be a participant in #LibDay6, and even more proud since I actually can participate, having a job in a library and all (even if it is part time!)

Currently I am working as a Project Coordinator on Project CHART (Cultural Heritage, Access, Research and Technology) – an IMLS funded digitization project between the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Historical Society and my institution Brooklyn Public Library. (Read my introduction post on the Brooklyn Collection’s blog – Brooklynology.)

So, here’s my typical day – Tues Jan. 25th.


Leave house 8:45 walk in snow to BPL.

Listen to NPRs Pop Culture Happy Hour Podcast on the walk to get my culture fix.

In office: 9am – check email, Twitter for news and/or interesting articles on LIS-related stuff.

Volunteered to help out Smithsonian Archives with something via this tweet from @digitaleffie – Effie Kapsalis, Head of New Media at Smithsonian Institution Archives. (YAY for cool, interesting stuff to do!)

Write out proposed schedule/to-do for the day.

Tweeted the LucidChart workflow that the interns and I built to organize our digital project – got a good response.

Met with intern – set agenda for the day.

Discussed the necessity and value of Controlled Vocab in a shared catalog between 3 different types of institutions.

Researched and rewrote DCMI fields we will be using for our project.

Quick meeting with Supervisor to update her on the status of the project.

Break for a bagel and coffee!

Discussion with our archivist about different types of archival media and the pros and cons of each.

Researched ALA annual conference and the LITA Division with the intern. Plan to register for the conference next week, and schedule travel and lodging.

More Email.

Practiced digitization process with test images.

Conference call at 3pm with the coordinators at the other institutions.

Practicing digitization process with test images. Working out the kinks in the process.

Lunch at 4pm!

Practicing digitization process with test images. MORE KINKS TO WORK OUT!

Plan future conference call with Project CHART’s technical advisor and the libraries IT team to discuss the details of building our shared website on Drupal architecture.

Read Smithsonian’s Digital Strategy doc for inspiration. [PDF]

Finalize some processes in the digital process. (Finally!)

Clock out and head home!


Then quick dinner, homework and log in for my library school class, Management of Information Organizations from 8-10. Did I mention that I am soooo ready to graduate and get to work in this field!?


The Job

This is the post I have been waiting to write for some time now. Although I was officially hired about a week ago, I was nervous and unsure about it up until today, when I actually went and worked a whole day. (This is what I did today.) It seems pretty legit at this point.

I am proud to announce that I have been hired as the Project CHART (Cultural Heritage Access Research and Technology) Coordinator at the Brooklyn Public Library effective immediately. Allow me to explain:

Project CHART is a multi-institutional, IMLS-funded grant program focusing on digitizing historic photographs. The grant is sponsored through Pratt Institute’s School of Information and Library Science, and in addition to the Brooklyn Library, the Brooklyn Museum and Brooklyn Historical Society are partners. Our “kickoff” meeting was yesterday, and I am throughly dumb-founded at the planning and foresight that has already gone into this project, and at what is left to do! Fortunately the CHART team is comprised of intelligent, skilled professionals (and me), and I am really looking forward to the next three years. (Did I mention that it is a three year grant? Very nice!)

Top 5 things that are awesome about Project CHART and the fact that they hired me:

  1. I get to work in “the field.” I was starting to think for a while that I would never find a job that would allow me to utilize my education. This has now been proven wrong and I have hope once again.
  2. The ultimate goal of the grant is to “prepare LIS students to become digital managers for cultural heritage institutions.” WHAT? That is the exact reason I went into the MLIS! I was looking for a way to pair my interests and background in American culture studies with digital preservation. So now I am involved in a project that is working toward defining that as a curriculum. No way? Way.
  3. The Institutions – I, Micah L. Vandegrift, will be in a professional position doing important and interesting things with like-minded people who work at the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Historical Society and Brooklyn Public Library. These are like gigantic, established, capital “I” institutions of culture, history and art in freaking NEW YORK CITY. I’m still amazed just walking past the buildings, much less actually doing work inside them.
  4. The People – I was mostly simply amazed at the Kickoff meeting. Just listening to the President of the Brooklyn Historical Society, the Director of Library and Archives at Brooklyn Museum, the Dean of Pratt’s School of ILS, and the Director of Brooklyn Public Library do a item-line budget was overwhelming. Not to mention the archivists/digitization experts who will be supervising team members at the sites. THEN my counterparts (Project Coordinators) at BrookMuse and BHS. Whole lotta awesome in one room.
  5. This seems like the opportunity that perfectly melds my skills with my professional goals. I am alright at web development and production, pretty good at project management, amazing at social/digital media (duh), interested in archives and special collections, captured by ideas like crowdsourcing and curation and fascinated by historic objects. I kept trying to define what sort of job I would want after graduation, and any combination of those elements would make me happy. Serving as a coordinator for Project CHART basically sums all that up.

So my “job” will actually be supervising two interns at BPL as we digitize, metadatatize, and archivize around 6000 photos. Also, the library will be housing the webspace where the shared collections from the three institutions will live, and I hear there’s a Drupal build in the works. No better time to get my hands in some of that too. I will also be planning and executing a variety of symposia, conference papers/presentations, marketing/promo stuffs in collaboration with the other institutions. Find a keynote speaker? Done. Book a trip to a national conference to present a poster on the project? Of course. Strategize, design and maintain a social media presence for the project? Lemmie at it!

In case you hadn’t noticed I’m excited. I am actually still interning at the library 9 hours a week for credit, and will finish my degree in May, but I feel like this is a pretty good step in the right direction. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about it over the coming months. Oh, and it is only 20 hours a week, so I’m still accepting offers for the other 20 hours of my work week. 😉

Project CHART final narrative is here if you’re interested. [PDF]