Over the past couple of years my colleague Kathleen Sheehan and I have been working with a Library Student Interest Group (LSIG), sponsored by the College Library and the Harvard Undergraduate Council, and we’ve met some great students. Allison Gofman is one of the students who has been part of the LSIG; she just graduated in the Class of 2014 with a degree in government. She has background in the biological sciences and in working with data and worked this past year as a stacks assistant in Widener Library. Moreover, she is planning to go to library school, which is great news for the library profession. Allison is smart, creative, and has a host of interests and skills that will serve her well in whatever kind of work she does.
She is also a photographer. She provides some background on her interest in photography in Photographing Memory, a speech she gave a couple of years ago at Lowell House, her undergraduate dorm at Harvard. This past year, for her final project in the course, United States in the World 30: Tangible Things: Harvard Collections in World History, Allison created the beautiful online book Harvard Libraries: Books That Breathe. It “is a visual exploration of the libraries as physical spaces: not only as beautiful architecture or as a collection of books, but as a unique intersection of the two.” [Harvard libraries featured in the book include Widener, Lamont, Houghton, the Robbins Library of Philosophy, and Cabot Science.]
The book discusses “What Is a Library?,” what a library’s mission is, how it stores and displays books, just what “inherent vice” is in a library and archival science context, how material is categorized and cataloged, and much more—about all of which we librarians rightfully kvell (my personal favorite image in the book is the “staircase to nowhere,” an architectural oddity here in Widener Library, that leads from the sixth floor into a ceiling without a door). Allison’s photographs truly are each worth a thousand words in conveying a sense of libraries and their missions.
By the way, in giving permission for me to write about her class project, Allison noted, “If anyone’s curious, I’m looking for a job).” She’s got my enthusiastic recommendation—what a librarian she will make!
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