Our student assistants and volunteers are a dedicated, hardworking group of individuals and they are invaluable to the Lab. They are constantly learning new treatments, expanding their preservation knowledge, and helping our Lab move forward and treat general collection items. For the students, this means they do all this while going to school full-time at the University of Cincinnati. So, every year we like to pick a day or two around the holidays to celebrate our students and volunteers and say “thank you” by treating them to a little bit of preservation-related fun. We appropriately call these our “student/volunteer fun days”.
We always pick an activity that will be enjoyable for the students/volunteers, but also benefit the Lab in some way. In the past this has included paste paper and paper marbling. For both we asked everyone to donate a portion of their papers to the Lab for our supply. This year for “fun day” we decided to demonstrate and create a selection of book structures with the idea that the people could expand their conservation skills and learn new techniques, and afterward the Lab would have a selection of models of the various structures.
Many times as I am performing tasks at the bench I begin to concentrate deeply on the materials, the tools, the work itself or a number of related subjects. Sometimes my imagination kicks in and I go to a completely weird place inside my head… One time I was removing the adhesive beneath a failed scotch tape repair and I began to roll the adhesive, testing its elasticity between my fingers before discarding it into a pile. I thought to myself, “this stuff has potential” and “it seems to have a life of its own”. Well, as I carefully stacked the discarded adhesive balls, they began to take shape… That was the beginning of Adhesive Man. I am strangely confident he will make future appearances around the Lab.
Our Preservation Lab has, for many years had the help of some unsung heroes in the form of our student assistants and volunteers.Although we appreciate them very much, they rarely get the attention that they deserve.As the student supervisor for Preservation Services it has been my job to interview, hire, and train our student assistants.When I interview prospective candidates, I usually look for two basic things, one being on time, and the other being appropriately dressed.The rest is just instinct and gut feeling.Our department has been extremely fortunate in the high caliber of student assistants who have worked for us but sometimes it’s obvious that the applicant would not be a good fit.A few years ago we had a candidate who arrived wearing a barbed wire belt and who asked if it was okay if he sometimes came to work bruised and bleeding, since his hobby was ultimate fighting.Even though the applicant seemed like a nice guy, it was not okay.
There’s a new face in the Lab these days. Ashleigh Schieszer (pronounced She-zer), our new Conservator and Lab Manager, arrived last week. She hit the ground running just a few days after moving to Cincinnati from Los Angeles, California where she was completing her internship at the Huntington Library. Somehow, though, in the midst of the orientation sessions, getting to know her way around the Lab and meetings with managers and colleagues she found time to sit down for an interview with me.
What I love about the human race is we can have very similar characteristics or some really, really different ones. Like all the different colors out there or all the different smells, we all have something unique to bring to the table. I am happy to say here at our lab we are sure a mixed bunch of characters.