By Molly Marcusse, Archives Assistant
My name is Molly Marcusse and I work as the archival assistant in the Niels Bohr Library and Archives (NBL&A). I have been in this position for about a year and a half and I really enjoy the work that I do here. I graduated with my Master of Library Science from University of Maryland with a concentration in archives and records management in December 2013. As the archival assistant, I am here to support the work of the full-time archivists and librarians in a variety of ways. This position also gives me the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in conjunction with the theories that I have learned in my classes. My main projects at the NBL&A have been to process archival collections and digitize the minutes of AIP Governing Board and Executive Committee meetings.
Processing archival collections prepares them for use by researchers. This involves re-housing the records to acid-free folders and boxes to prevent deterioration of the paper. Ideally when collections arrive at the NBL&A they will be in folders with titles. When this happens, I use the original folder titles; when this is not the case, I have to create a folder title which concisely and accurately describes the records in the folder. Quality folder titles help researchers decide if a folder contains relevant records without having to spend time actually looking at the records. I also remove any staples or paper clips that are damaging the paper and photocopy paper which is already decaying. (Early fax paper is the worst!) Processing also involves writing a finding aid which describes the collection, who created the records, how the records are organized, and contains a folder title list. Many of our finding aids are available online. This allows researchers to assess a collection’s usefulness before they ever step foot in the NBL&A.
Working at the NBL&A has given me the opportunity to learn from our historical materials. For example, one of the archival collections I processed was primarily records about quantum physics, an area that I never thought I would find interesting. By working directly with the records I was able to gain a new appreciation and understanding of concepts like Schrödinger's cat and Young’s interference experiment. As a member of the Library staff, the best part about getting to learn while at work is sharing my excitement about the history of physics with others.