Special Collections & Archives Technical Services Librarian Tammi Kim looks over archival photographs and documents in the reading room.
In our Secrets from Special Collections series, UNLV Libraries Special Collections and Archives staff members divulge what they consider to be the hidden gems of the library, sharing answers, based on their own experiences, to six intriguing questions. Here, Technical Services Librarian Tammi Kim gives us a glimpse into life working among the rare treasures of the library.
1. When you first began working in Special Collections and Archives, what was the one item or collection that made your jaw drop, and why? Describe.
I really love our entertainment collections - especially the ones that have costume designs! In particular, I was intrigued by the Bill Campbell Collection which includes dozens of original costume designs, notes, and fabric swatches! Since I’m a nineteenth century fashion nerd, I love the extravagance and amazing details in the Southern Belle costumes designed for Hello America!
2. What do you think may be the single most overlooked part of Special Collections and Archives?
Our University Archives! We have so many amazing collections documenting UNLV’s history. I think the collections that document UNLV’s early history way back when we were Nevada Southern University in the 1950s and 1960s are particularly interesting and significant. It’s always neat to come across a letter or document that talks about UNLV as this small campus off of a dirt road (Maryland Parkway) with less than 50 students, and to compare that to today where we’re a major urban research university with over 28,000 students.
3. What is the one question you are most asked about your work, or elements that fall within the scope of your job description?
“Do you like books?” Most people are a little puzzled when I tell them my job title (Technical Services Librarian), but that’s really a fancy way of saying I’m a type of collections manager.
Special Collections & Archives Technical Services Librarian Tammi Kim and UNLV History graduate student and archives assistant Maggie Bukowski work on accessioning a new collection.
4. What is the most fascinating or positive aspect of your job? In answering, describe a little about what you do on a daily basis. What is the most difficult aspect of your work? Describe.
I enjoy the variety that comes with my job! I do something different almost every day. Because I wear so many hats (as many of us do in Special Collections and Archives), I get to participate in a lot of different activities. Some days I will work on more behind-the-scenes tasks like creating and updating collection records, other days I will work hands-on with processing collections, and sometimes I will also manage our web archives (https://archive-it.org/organizations/755). I also really enjoy having the opportunity to visit donors and pick up collections, as well as building relationships with different campus units and student groups in order to preserve their records for the University Archives.
5. What are you working on right now? How will it contribute to Special Collections and Archives?
Some of my major projects right now revolve around the UNLV University Archives and web archiving. I am supervising a UNLV History graduate student in processing and creating collection records for all of the holdings in University Archives which is comprised of over seventy unique collections! The other major project I am working on is curating the “1 October web archive” which is comprised of over two hundred URLs representing the news media, social media, and Las Vegas community’s responses to the Route 91 Harvest Festival tragedy. The Internet is not something we automatically think of having to “archive” but the truth is that websites can come and go.
6. What advice would you give students seeking to isolate a topic in Special Collections and Archives using primary source materials?
I think one of the most useful ways of researching a topic in Special Collections and Archives is to browse through our list of manuscript collections organized by subject which provides access to guides and inventories for each of our collections. It’s a handy way of seeing what our major collecting areas are!