Changing Seasons

black and white photograph of Amherst, MA featuring Amherst College, 1800s

This post was written by Hallie Twiss, Digital Programs’ Graduate Intern from 2019-2021

As some people may know, next week I will be wrapping up my time as the Graduate Intern for Digital Programs. Reflecting on this time is proving to be difficult, as this experience has not looked the way I thought it would (mostly in the best ways!), and my departure, likewise, is happening under unexpected circumstances. 

I started my work in Digital Programs around the same time I started my classes at Simmons University. I spent the first semester there tackling the required core courses for the degree, which made for a pretty grueling semester. In the spring, I was just digging into my first archives class when the COVID19 pandemic ramped up, and campuses everywhere started closing. I tried to keep up with school remotely for a couple of weeks, but quickly realized that I was already burned out and could not maintain the typical pace of academia. I decided to use my leave time until we would be able to return to in-person classes, but of course, the best laid plans…

As I put school on the backburner, I also had to quickly figure out how to adapt to working remotely. In my previous posts, I talked about how fortunate it was that I had chosen a project that adapted so easily to a remote model. I had been feeling nervous about how to garner excitement for the crowd-sourced transcription project, and suddenly that project became one of a few vital ways for library staff to get their hours in from home. And, a few people really took to the work, which was so wonderful to see. One of my favorite things about working in libraries is working with people who are so multifaceted. This project is far from finished, like most library-related projects, it is a kind of never ending task to better serve our community, and I’m sure it will continue to evolve. I have to remind myself of the perpetuity of this project as I feel remorse about leaving “in the middle” of things. But, due to many factors, I won’t be continuing my graduate degree at this time. I felt so nervous about sharing this with others, but have received such positive support from my colleagues in Digital Programs, and have realized that there’s nothing to be ashamed of. It also feels appropriate, as I entered the scene at Amherst College just as the work on the bicentennial was wrapping up, and now I’m exiting as the library begins to reorganize. 

The intern before me, Jessica Dampier, said that the word she would use to describe the Digital Programs Department would be “adaptability”, and I have to second that.  As chaotic as it has sometimes been, I feel very grateful to have joined the department when I did. I am the last intern who will have worked under Este Pope’s leadership, as she and I are moving on at about the same time. Este taught me to approach each opportunity with curiosity and intention, and that you can absolutely be warm and fuzzy and a total badass at the same time. I think her legacy is something you feel in working with this group, rather than a list of accomplishments (though that list is impressive, as well). With the incredibly valuable guidance and mentorship of my supervisor, Sarah Walden McGowan, and the warm support and creative inspiration from Bridget Dahill and Tim Pinault, I can say that anyone who works in or with this group of people will be very fortunate. I came into this internship with a very cold understanding of what professional growth might look like, and ended up learning so much about myself and what it means to be a caring colleague, as well as how to adapt in an ever-changing professional landscape. I am very grateful to the Digital Programs Department, and the entire staff of Frost Library. 

It seems like change is on the horizon for many of us this fall. I look forward to seeing the results as I move to covering the circulation desk for Access Services on Saturdays through this semester. If anyone is curious about what I’ll be doing next, please do not hesitate to reach out or come find me and ask! I encourage everyone in the Amherst College community to keep an eye out for updates on the transcription project in the future, and thank you again for taking part and supporting our endeavors to enhance our digital collections.