I have not posted on the blog in far too long, and for that I am very sorry. Life has bee busy, busy, busy here at the library. See our new deck?
You should come down and have a cup of coffee on it, if you’re in the area, or plan on coming to one of our events if you’re too far away for a casual cup of joe. Either way, the deck is a fantastic addition to the library.
My purpose in talking with you now is different than the public events that we have at the library, however. I come to you as the archivist of the library to give you the news of the work we’re doing in the back office with the old papers and the curly handwriting and the Parisian Air Mail envelopes. The work of the archives in this summer season is to have the entire Schnellock Collection accessioned within our system to the point that the rest of the holdings currently are: in an electronic database with an accession number, title, date, and to be properly stored in acid free boxes and interleaved with acid free paper. This is particularly exciting because the Schnellock Collection is the most valuable of the things that the archives owns, holding rare manuscripts, essays, and letters between Emil Schnellock and Henry Miller. These papers, dating back to Miller’s time in Paris are the most exciting and rewarding portion of the archives to sort through for all of us. Currently, our new intern Joey is doing some preservation work on an essay that Miller wrote about D.H. Lawrence prior to the publication of Tropic of Cancer when he was encouraged to write something respectable.
Joey is our new intern! He arrived at the beginning of the week and spent the first few days getting settled in Big Sur and how is sinking his teeth full force into the Emil Schnellock Collection, interleaving, giving titles, and reading insights into Henry Miller’s early writing life. He comments occasionally in the office about Henry Miller’s feelings about James Joyce based on the essay he’s working on right now. The last quotation he read was, “Joyce has nothing whatsoever to say.” I think he’s enjoying his work. I will tell you more about Joey as the summer unfolds. For now, I will only tell you that he has spent the last 18 months in Mongolia, and that is something I can’t wait to hear more about. Perhaps I’ll give him some homework to write us a blog post about an aspect of his time there.
Garen is another intern who has already accomplished a great deal, and is working remotely from San Francisco. Garen is a computer-techie to the max, with a computer science degree and an expressed interest in working with us to be as efficient with the tasks we do on the computer so as to limit our time staring at our little laptops and more time staring at the redwoods, old and fun papers, and each others smiling faces. I completely agree with this goal. So far he has taken the Shifreen and Jackson bibliography (updated constantly by William Ashley), which is the most comprehensive source for all printings of Miller titles, and turned the word file into a keyword searchable database with each book as its own record. Now, this is work that if I had sat down to cut/copy/and paste all of the pieces of information into their respective fields, would have taken me months. MONTHS of computer time was broken down into a week of Garen writing a computer program that would automate the entire process and tell the computer to pull out bits of information and call each piece a title, a date, or so on based only on where it falls in relation to the rest of the information. He explained it to me so well and I am butchering the relaying of that information to you, but I hope you can understand what an amazing feat this has been. Before the summer is over he will also be implementing a Henry Miller Library Archives website (which I will design, and he will code) AND will show me how to make updates with, as he describes, little to no coding experience. Which is more or less where I sit.
So it’s exciting times here at the Henry Miller Library, especially in the dark back office where we’re all sitting plodding through the stacks of work that pile up while we’re busy making coffee, holding all night music festivals or hanging out with each other and having a barbecue (which the library and Folk Yeah! crew did last night in order to reconvene after a busy week, enjoy each others company, and prepare for a summer filled with concerts, festivals, and rock stars).
Part of the work of this summer for me is a little less fun than treasure hunting through the Schnellock Collection, but essential in order to keep the archives afloat. That task is to find a grant (or a couple of grants) to support the Henry Miller Library Archives. We are currently hoping to find $25,000 for the implementation of a climate control system in the storage facility here at the library. We have been working with libraries in the peninsula (a MASSIVE thanks to CSUMB and their library director Bill Robnett) to protect our holdings this winter but we would like to be able to store our holdings safely here onsite. It is a reachable goal, but we need support, as archiving is not a particularly lucrative business, yet the preservation of literary history is essential. Please consider making a donation of any size to the Henry Miller Library Archives fund.
Additionally, I am looking for a sponsor for a printing of the first installment of a quarterly Archives Newsletter that will be issued in the fall of 2009. If this is a project you would be interested in supporting, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks all for reading, and I promise to be more with it with the updates!
And to leave you, this is how I feel right now about the state of California.