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Welcome GALCIT Archival Processing Intern DiAndra Reyes

by Chris Daley on 2023-11-29T14:36:00-08:00 in Archives, Archives News, Library News | 0 Comments

A woman with long, dark hair in a red sweater in front of an orange backgroundThe mission of Caltech Archives and Special Collections is to facilitate understanding of Caltech's role in the history of science and technology and of the research and lives of its community. Earlier this fall, the Archives conducted a search for an Archival Processing Intern to assist with surveying, arranging, and describing physical and digital records held at the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories (GALCIT), Division of Engineering and Applied Science.

The Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology (GALCIT) was a research institute created in 1926, at first specializing in aeronautics research. In 1930, Hungarian scientist Theodore von Karman accepted the directorship of the lab and emigrated to the United States. Under his leadership, work on rockets began there in 1936. In 1961 the name changed to Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories at the California Institute of Technology. In 2006 GALCIT was once again renamed, taking on the new and current name of Graduate Aerospace Laboratories of the California Institute of Technology (while continuing to maintain the acronym GALCIT) in order to reflect its vigorous re-engagement with space engineering and with JPL.

At the conclusion of the search, DiAndra Reyes was chosen to be our new GALCIT Archival Processing Intern. She is a second year Master of Library and Information Science student at San José State University. DiAndra agreed to answer some questions so we could get to know her better.

Hi DiAndra! We're happy to welcome you as the Library's new Archival Processing Intern. This position was funded by the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories (GALCIT) and you were chosen from many qualified candidates. What drew you to apply to this position?

Hello! I am truly honored to have been selected as the new GALCIT Processing Intern. Firstly, I want to thank GALCIT, Caltech Library, and Archives for giving me such an amazing professional development opportunity. There were many factors that drew me to this position. One of my motivating factors for applying was that I felt really aligned with the Caltech Archives’ focus on facilitating an understanding of Caltech’s pivotal role in the history of science and technology. I really got a sense from the job posting, as well as talking to Mariella Soprano and Kara Whatley in the interview, that the Archives and Institute really care about the preservation and discovery of its history and people, while at the same time they have a forward-looking approach to doing archival work.

Although I do not have a background in Aerospace Engineering, the chance to immerse myself in a subject area with which I am less familiar adds an enriching dimension to the experience and gives me a unique opportunity to become a more versatile and collaborative archivist who can adapt to any field. Furthermore, I’ve been in the San José State University Master of Library and Information Science online program for two and a half years, and the opportunity to work on-site, get hands-on experience with the physical materials, and build interpersonal relationships with the staff and faculty, really enticed me.

What kind of courses are you currently taking in the MLIS program at San José State?

I’m currently taking an Archives Reference class, where I’m learning about reference processes, guidelines, legalities, etc. in archival institutions. Additionally, I am also doing a fall semester internship at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, which I will be receiving school credit for.

Now that you've started working in the Archives, what does a typical day in the life of a GALCIT Archival Processing Intern look like?

A typical day for me involves arriving at my office in the Guggenheim building at 9 a.m. Mariella Soprano, my supervisor, meets me there around the same time. I first check my calendar and emails to confirm what meetings I have for the day. Then I start working with Mariella in going through materials. We work together to decide what to keep and what to throw away, as well as conducting some basic preservation procedures like removing rusty staples and clips and flattening out papers. Then we figure out how to categorize and organize the materials into series and subseries. I input the data for the materials into a spreadsheet with titles, dates, creators, scope and content notes, etc. This spreadsheet will later be imported into ArchivesSpace. Next, I put the materials in archival folders and in their respective sections on shelves in my office. Sometimes, I also spend part of my day researching GALCIT and its history. The GALCIT website and the Caltech Archives’ oral histories website have served as valuable resources in understanding the context of the materials we are discovering. 

What can you tell us about the Archives you're working on?

The GALCIT archives is a treasure trove of materials dating from the 1930s and 1940s through the present, consisting of records from the department’s initiatives and projects. It’s really a Pandora’s box, and we have still yet to know what we will find. So far, we know there are papers, large plans and drawings, and audio/visual materials. The commitment of the GALCIT department in taking the initiative to preserve all this history is truly commendable. The collection will be stored in GALCIT, in the basement of the Firestone building, while under the guardianship of the Archives department. 

What do you enjoy so far about working at Caltech?

Working at Caltech has been an enriching experience so far, particularly due to the opportunity to interact with diverse individuals at GALCIT, the Archives, and the Library. Learning from passionate professionals who are doing amazing work has been truly inspiring. I hope to continue learning as much as I can about how each department functions and their impacts on the Caltech community as a whole. 

Is there anything you'd like us to know before we go?

I would like to express my gratitude for the warm welcome from everyone and the opportunity to be a part of the Caltech community. I look forward to sharing our discoveries of the GALCIT collection in the near future!

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