Abigail Dairaghi is a first year Museum Science and Management student, and the Graduate Assistant for Special Collections at TU’s McFarlin Library. Abigail’s work in Special Collections allows her to have hands-on experience with a variety of archival materials. In this interview, Abigail elaborates on how her Assistantship ties in with her graduate studies.
What are you duties as the Special Collections Graduate Assistant?
As the graduate assistant for Special Collections, I’m the person who goes through our archival materials to get information to researchers around the world. When our department receives an inquiry, I am the one who locates, scans, and watermarks the material requested. I am able to go through, quite literally, thousands of archival materials and have learned quite a bit about some of our larger literary collections, such as James Joyce, Rebecca West, and Muriel Spark. I’ve worked with researchers from many different countries, and even had the opportunity to correspond with Oscar Wilde’s grandson.
What are you interested in doing after graduation? How do you think this position is preparing you for a career in the future?
After graduation, I would like to focus on collection management. Before starting this assistantship, I assumed that would solely mean opportunities within museums themselves, but I now know that many libraries have their own archival collections. I’ve had the opportunity to digitize parts of a collection on Archive Space, begin the project of itemizing an entire collection, and learn to handle just about any kind of material that can be found in an archive.
Is there any major takeaway or insight you have found about the work Special Collections does, or about working in an archive?
The work that Special Collections does is never ending. From organization, conservation, preservation, transcriptions, cataloguing, and much more, there is rarely a dull day! Every day I have the opportunity to work with such an array of incredible firsthand materials, and with our continued work in Special Collections and other archives, researchers will continue to be able to use these archival materials far into the future