My name is Tristan Campbell, for the last two weeks I’ve been an intern in the library here at California Academy of Sciences. I’m in the last year of a three year Masters program in Library, Archives, and Information Sciences at the University of British Columbia, and one of the requirements of the program is a two week practicum/internship. Most people in the program do these at local institutions in Vancouver, but I was lucky enough that there is a UBC connection here through librarian Rebecca Morin who had a database project I could work on.
The quick answer that I give when people ask how I chose my Masters program, is that I want to connect people with information, preferably through computers, and ideally using open source software. So when the opportunity to build a database for the California Academy of Sciences Library using open source software came up I jumped on it.
I’ve spent my time here building a database for the map collection here in the library using USGS maps, and up until now access to them has been managed using hand written indexes prepared by a long-time volunteer. The amount of work that must have gone into hand writing those indexes is incredible, my job was to build a database that could use and preserve those indexes. The database is very much a work in progress, my time here was far too short to put all of the data from the indexes into the database, and there is some work to be done by a library volunteer before the whole system is complete. But the basic structure is there, and it will be very useful for providing access to the map collection.
Two weeks is far to short a time to spend at a place like this, but it has been quite an experience. The work environment could not be more supportive and positive, and the materials they have here are amazing. One day, just for a change of pace, I got to help turn the page of the Audubon on display in the Library reading room, amazing. I had pretty high expectations coming here, and the experience has been far better than I had hoped for. So huge thanks to Rebecca, the Library and Archives team, and everyone else at California Academy of Sciences who have been so good to me, I only wish it could have been for longer.