Tips from a Collections Care Student Employee

by Naja Morris U of I Preservation Unit Grad Hourly

I always wish someone would give a guidebook or cheat sheet on what to expect from life. There are things that people give you a heads up like fix a broken toilet or what to do when you get a flat tire. There are also a few things that no one could have prepared me for, like how to juggle writing two research papers at the same time or how to cope when the grocery store stops carrying my favorite ice cream. One of the great things when applying for a position is the fact that the job announcement neatly lists the expected duties you’re going to have to do if you get said job. It’s a little comforting so, you’re not going in blind on your first day on the job. As with most things in life there can be unexpected things that can arise once you’re in the position. For people interested in working in preservation, I thought I share a few tidbits that you’ll come across if you decided to seek a job in the field:

  1. Don’t wear white or any type of light clothing if you’re handling books with red rot. Red rot does stain and can get everywhere, by the end of the work day you’ll look like you rolled around in clay.
  2. If your job in preservation deals with integrated pest management, or IPM, get comfortable with bugs and be prepared to know their scientific name. Did you know the Latin name from a carpet beetle? Fun fact it’s Allagenus unicolor.
  3. Preparing for the worst is a part of the job. Terms like disaster planning, flooding, air drying books, and dehumidifier will become a familiar part of your vocabulary. It may seem overwhelming at first thinking of all things that can go wrong, but nothing can beat being prepared.

These are just practices or little things that I have picked up in my time working in Preservation Services. Hopefully these tips will give people a clear picture of what it is like to in a collections care position.

Preservation Week 2022
Example of Red Rot at the U of I.