Professional Development Statement
One of my earliest memories is receiving a Fisher-Price record player from my father. I remember tracing the lines etched into the record with my finger, placing it on the turntable, and being mesmerized when “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” filled the air. I immediately had to find out how this plastic disc could produce music, so my dad helped me take the brand-new toy apart to see how its wind-up mechanism worked. Years later, my fascination with sound recordings proceeded to grow, as did my penchant for solving puzzles and my desire to understand the mysteries of how things work. This inquisitiveness served me well as I obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Communication at the University of Southern California, and thereafter, as I spent a decade researching and unfolding the stories of musicians’ lives into feature articles as a music journalist. When the newspaper I worked for began to evolve into an online publication, I started contemplating other professional avenues. I sought the advice of a friend who obtained his MLIS at UCLA, applied to the program, and started working as a clerk for Los Angeles Public Library. I realized how much I love assisting patrons, and after attending Media Archives Boot Camp prior to beginning the UCLA program, I became excited to see that an MLIS would enable me to combine my passion for recorded sound with my desire to help others.
Since entering the program, I have had the goal of acquiring a position as a processing archivist within a sound/audiovisual archive, museum, or library special collections in mind. I have tailored my course selections, internships, student jobs, and involvement in professional organizations towards achieving this goal. I specifically have been looking to the core knowledge and skill requirements of an audio archivist laid forth in the National Recording Preservation Board’s The State of Recorded Sound Preservation in the United States: A National Legacy at Risk in the Digital Age as a reference guide. To date, this is the only comprehensive study that has been conducted, and it sets forth recommendations for curricula in audio archival training. The study details necessary competencies within four knowledge areas – Recorded Sound Foundations (formats, material science and technology), Preservation Foundations (history, storage requirements), Preservation Reformatting of Audio (techniques, technology assessment), and Collection Management1 (archival processing, reference) – and I have utilized these bullet points as a checklist to assess my progress within the classroom and in the field.
Although I was already familiar with most recording formats, I was able to dive deeper into the science and structure of sound carriers through the assigned readings for Ethnomusicology C200-Audiovisual Archiving in the 21st Century and IS 484-Sound Technologies in Society. Both courses reinforced the importance of being aware of the technology that went into creating the physical media, as well as the basic audio properties of their recorded contents. Outside of the classroom, I have been able to easily identify the many sound formats I have encountered in my internships processing thousands of lacquer discs at the Library of Congress’ (LC) National Audiovisual Conservation Center (NAVCC) and over 400 Native American sound and audiovisual recordings on wire, magnetic tape, and discs dating from 1887 to 2007 at the Autry Museum of the American West.
I learned about the history of media preservation in IS 480-Introduction to Media Archiving and Preservation and IS 481-Moving Image Technology. Being able to identify the time period in which a recording was made just by examining its carrier’s physical properties is an essential skill for media archivists, and these two classes drove this point home. I can confidently create a collection needs assessment and disaster preparedness plan because of exercises I participated in during Ethno C200. One class activity had groups determine security measures and storage needs according to a set budget and a list of natural disasters that might occur in the geographic region they were assigned. I directly applied much of what I learned about the proper handling and storage of audio formats from this Ethno class to working with the Universal Music Group (UMG) master studio recordings on 1940s lacquer discs during my summer internship as an LC Junior Fellow in the Recorded Sound Section at the NAVCC, to working with the unique tribal recordings at the Autry, and in my fieldwork with brown wax cylinders over the winter quarter. Brown wax cylinders were the first commercial sound recordings ever sold, and I constructed a custom database for the cataloging of my site supervisor’s vast collection of these rare items from the 1800s.
I obtained a foundation in digitization techniques and processes during Ethno C200 and in guest lectures by National Public Radio audio archivist Will Chase and UMG audio engineers Dave McEowen and Christina Paakkari during IS 484. I conducted research to ascertain what transfer technology and equipment would be needed to digitize patrons’ audiovisual materials in an outreach program (a series of ‘Preserving Memories’ workshops) I designed for the Brand Library & Art Center in my IS 423-Public Libraries final project. In the field, I took the initiative to observe the LC engineers’ digitization workflow at the NAVCC whenever I could this summer, and I was able to learn transfer techniques for cylinders and discs from my fieldwork site supervisor and the reformatting vendor I am working with at the Autry, respectively.
In terms of Collection Management, I had to submit two group projects for IS 484, both of which concerned the appraisal of archival audio collections. My final paper for IS 289-3-Intellectual Property focused on the effects of the Music Modernization Act for libraries and archives, and my quarter-long project for IS 433-Community-Based Archiving consisted of writing a grant application for the preservation reformatting of two of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center’s moving image collections. For the past two years I have worked shifts at the reference desk at the UCLA Music Library, and last spring, I spent the quarter processing an archival collection in UCLA Library Special Collections (LSC). My experience in LSC and at the NAVCC cemented my desire to become a processing archivist, and through my two internships this year I have expanded my hands-on experience with media: film negatives and slides at a Mellon grant-funded community archives internship at Visual Communications, a media arts center for Asian-American and Pacific Islander filmmakers, and the collection of tribal recordings on an array of sound formats at the Autry.
The Autry project is allowing me to pursue my interest in tribal community-institution collaboration when describing indigenous sound recordings. In addition to processing the recordings, I am researching their tribal affiliations in preparation for the Autry’s Repatriation and Community Research Manager to contact tribal councils with an invitation to collaborate in describing the songs and implementing Traditional Knowledge Labels into the materials’ catalog records. I am scheduled to present on this work at the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives’ (IASA) 50th anniversary conference and at the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, & Museum’s (ATALM) International Conference of Indigenous Archives, Libraries, and Museums in the fall.
There are four audio-related professional organizations – IASA, the Music Library Association (MLA), the Audio Engineering Society (AES), and the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC); I have been an active member in all four and held positions in three. I founded the first-ever student chapter of ARSC and have served as the UCLA chapter chair for two years. I presented a poster at the 2018 conference, am the current ARSC Newsletter editor, serve on the Education and Training Committee, and am co-chair of the mentoring program for first-time attendees at the next ARSC Conference. I am the IASA Ambassador for the western United States and will be presenting at the anniversary conference in Hilversum, Netherlands in October. I currently serve as the Membership Officer for MLA’s Students and Emerging Professionals Group. So far, I have recruited 82 new members to the group that is 413 members strong. I presented on the processing work I did at the NAVCC at the MLA California Chapter meeting and an AES Los Angeles section meeting last September. I was on the planning committee for the 2018 AES International Conference on Audio Archiving, Preservation & Restoration and was invited to be a part of the committee again for the next conference. I hope to deepen my involvement in all of these groups in the years ahead to continue to broaden and enhance my knowledge and skills in the realm of audio archiving.
I founded the chapter of ARSC at UCLA to acquire more hands-on training from the organization’s members and build a stronger network between students, collectors, and archives professionals. My involvement with the chapter has helped me develop my ability to advocate for myself and my cohort. When several students expressed that funding was the only thing stopping them from attending this year’s ARSC Conference, I fought for the implementation of a volunteer program, in which students would work a shift at the registration desk in exchange for a rebate of their conference fees. I am proud to say that the student chapter is sending nine delegates to this year’s conference, triple the amount from last year.
While I hope to acquire a position as a processing archivist in a sound/audiovisual archive or a library special collections with audio formats in its holdings after completing my MLIS, my five-year plan also includes a commitment to community archives and fostering tribal-institutional collaboration in describing sound recordings. I would welcome the opportunity to be a part of implementing Traditional Knowledge labels at more institutions like the Autry that steward major collections of indigenous sound recordings. Ideal institutions include the Archives of Traditional Music at Indiana University Bloomington, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, and the Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.
1 Rob Bamberger and Sam Brylawski on behalf of the National Recording Preservation Board, The State of Recorded Sound Preservation in the United States: A National Legacy at Risk in the Digital Age (Washington, D.C.: Council on Library and Information Resources and the Library of Congress, 2010), 148.