This week’s diptych theme is “temporary”. I have no hand in selecting the themes; that’s up to Grace and Kellee. But this week that term is especially relevant to me, as I am in the final days of my temporary position at the California Academy of Sciences. While I only became a paid employee in December, I first came to the Academy back in June of 2009 as an intern and have been heading in to the gleaming green building in Golden Gate Park continuously ever since. So next Friday, my last day at the Academy, marks the end to a significant period of my professional life.
It’s a bittersweet departure because of the fun I’ve had, the skills I’ve learned, and the connections I’ve made. First, credit for how enjoyable it’s been should be given to the people I work with: Christina, who for my months as an intern was my roommate in the Corsi Digital Lab, and then, when she went on maternity leave, the reason I had a professional opportunity; Becky, who is funny, lively, takes long runs in the rain and taught me a lot about life sciences librarianship (taxonomy!); and most of all, my supervisor, Danielle, who has patiently taught me how to handle the Academy’s historic materials, how to curate an informative archival display, and all sorts of digital asset management details they never get to in library school. I appreciate the patience they’ve shown in teaching me the rigging of the good schooner Academy.
Working in the Academy’s archives is quite an adventure. These aren’t dry and dusty collections; I learned about Alvin Seale, a headstrong turn-of-the-century scientist and adventurer who scoured the South Pacific for feather cloaks and cannibals; the great matriarch of botany Alice Eastwood and how she rescued specimens in the midst of the 1906 disaster; and scientific explorers like Rollo Beck and Templeton Crocker and their high-seas voyages to the Galapagos and beyond. I spent weeks delving into our materials on the arctic north and became an accidental expert on pelagic sealing, the Pribilof Islands, and the strange things that happen in the Bering Sea.
But all this was temporary, and I’ll be moving on. Fortunately, the skills I’ve learned are not.
My image in this week’s “temporary” diptych is the iconic orange band that’s been around my neck since last summer, the one that I’ll soon be giving up.
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