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Journeys in Digital Archiving: Emma Metty ’19 at Oral History in the Liberal Arts

For my third co-op adventure I found myself happily back at OHLA in my Digital Archivist position. During Winter quarter 2017 I had the opportunity to work with OHLA and Brooke for the first time, and during my Summer quarter, found my love of the job all over again. For people new to OHLA I would describe the collective as a bunch of people who love oral history and want to share it with the world. On the OHLA website there are a variety of tutorials, how-to guides, and oral history projects from across the thirteen schools that make up the Great Lakes College Association (GLCA).

While I may have worked at OHLA before, one beautiful part of the job is that what you do day to day changes. On a Monday I may be answering emails and adding new smiling faces to the OHLA website. On a Tuesday I may be working away entering in metadata in OHMS, the site we use to build out projects. On a Wednesday I may be creating up to 6 new pages for an oral history project that need to go live. It is ever changing and keeps you busy!

My day to day work mainly revolves around adding to the OHLA website, posting on the OHLA Facebook and Twitter accounts, and working with people to get their oral history projects up and running. Most specifically this quarter I have worked with Noriko Sugimori to expand her War Memories oral history project, doubled the amount of interviews posted for Regina Martin in her  Literature and Professional Life: A Digital Life Stories Archive oral history project, emailed new OHLA members, and worked on overhauling the social media campaign to streamline it more. I have also edited many of the posts and pages on the OHLA website – to streamline them by making them easier to navigate or more visually pleasing – such as the Faculty and Student project archives.

OHLA is completely faculty and student driven, and to me that is what makes it beautiful. There are definitely days that it can be nerve-wracking, realizing that most all of the day-to-day work to keep the collective going is done by two people – one of whom is me – but it is rewarding because of that. OHLA is made up of many smiling faces who are there because they love oral history and want to share what they can with the world. By working together and sharing techniques it makes the process of recording and presenting oral history easier for beginners and masters alike.

What drew me to OHLA in the first place was a curiosity about oral history, audio editing, and digital archives. This curiosity bloomed into a passion and helped push me along into crafting my own degree of anthropology and history. I wanted to come back to OHLA not just because I missed it and wanted to help out again, but because I thought that it might hold a future to me. Something I have been considering this quarter is to explore my own oral history project through OHLA, though for now my main goal is to help others with their projects.

Probably the last thing I find so appealing about OHLA is flexibility of work location. My quarter has been riddled with non-stop action but with my trusty HP laptop by my side and a little WiFi, my OHLA work is always complete. From sitting by shimmering water, to a window, or by a fish tank, or in an arm chair, my OHLA work flows from my keyboard onto the World Wide Web. It is on these days I stop and smile at the work I completed, because even if no ones knows it was me, they can enjoy the piece I helped create. Before the quarter is complete I hope to add a guide on how to navigate WordPress alongside the other helpful guides written by my fellows, to help beginners find their way.

Written by

Emma is part of the class of 2019 at Antioch College, her major is a self design titled Culture as a Historical Process that combines elements from traditional History and Anthropology degrees into one. She has a love a photography and capturing life in moments.

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