By the end of the
two weeks, eight graduate students will have taken part, and neatly
labeled boxes, filled with orderly folders of historical papers, will be
stacked in the library.
Previous SWAT teams have worked on
various collections of objects, from duck decoys to fine china to
Stanley Steamer automobiles. They've cleaned items, researched their
history and set up record-keeping databases for the organizations to
But this is the first year they've tackled a
library, said Katherine C. Grier, professor of history and director of
the Museum Studies program.
"We're usually more objects-based,"
Grier said, "but archives work is increasingly a part of jobs in our
field. Our archives classes are very popular, especially with English
majors who may want to do that kind of work."
The basic skills
used in libraries or archives are similar to those students develop when
working with objects, said Megan Hutchins, the Museum Studies program
"They're getting experience in a lot of areas they
might need, especially as they begin their careers," she said. "Almost
every site, especially the smaller ones, has a backlog of items to
The Delaware Historical Society Research Library has a
small professional staff, so the organization isn't as dependent on
volunteers as some museums are. But the SWAT Team's help was still
invaluable, said Leigh Rifenburg, the library's chief curator.
if all these items aren't fully cataloged by the time the students
leave, this is still a very good start and a big help to us," she said.
the Museum Studies program itself, the SWAT Team members are an
interdisciplinary group, representing departments of History, English
and Fashion and Apparel Studies.
"I'm an English Ph.D. student,
and I wanted to get some hands-on experience in a library," said Jessica
Thelen. "This seemed like a great opportunity."
Article by Ann Manser; photos by Evan Krape