March 30, 2015

Processing the Edith Grossman Manuscript Collection: Processing is Similar to Cataloging

The last few weeks I have been focused on processing the first three boxes of Edith Grossman's manuscript collection. While there seems to be somewhat of an original order, my professor and I agreed to slightly modify it. As I process, I am also creating an inventory. The original order is mostly by authors Grossman has translated. With the Grossman mss. (manuscripts) I have a series (Writings), a sub-series (Translations), and then another sub-series under that (Miguel de Cervantes). The first three boxes include correspondence, galley proofs, typescripts, notes, and drafts for Grossman's translation of Don Quixote. When I move on to other boxes, the sub-series will change from "Miguel de Cervantes" to the next author such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez."

Processing and consulting my professor takes up a good portion of my time. All these decisions remind me how much processing a manuscript collection is a lot like my full-time cataloging job at the public library. When I catalog a fiction children's book, I first have to decide if it is suitable to go in our easy-reader collection. This collection is second grade reading and lower. I use Accelerated Reader, but if they're not in that database, I flip through the pages to see how long it is, how many words, the difficulty of the words, etc. If I can't decide, I will look up if we have other books by the same author. Usually the author writes at the same level. If it isn't suitable for our easy-reader collection, I have to decide to put it in our picture book collection, juvenile fiction, or oversize collection.

The picture book collection includes most of our Caldecott award books, beautifully illustrated books, and hardback books that are higher than second grade, but not high enough to be with the chapter books in the juvenile fiction collection. The oversize books contain books all levels, but are paperback, thin and/or an awkward size. Because they are thin, the label is difficult to read on the spine for our customers and shelvers. This is why the label goes on the front cover and the books are shelved with the covers facing the person instead of shelved with the spines out like most of our books.

There are so many decisions to make when processing too. Should the correspondence be interfiled with the surrounding materials or should it be it's own series? I found a floppy disk with Grossman's translation of Don Quixote and the fonts she used for the book-should this be its own audio/visual sub-series? One of the galley proofs have inter-weaved pages of revisions with a more updated date on them than the other pages-how do I title the folder to convey this to the researcher? I feel grateful that I can always ask my professor for help with these decisions. They may seem detailed and insignificant to some, but I know they will impact the experience a researcher has at the Lilly Library. I want to make sure their experience on my end is as positive as possible.

March 19, 2015

Processing the Edith Grossman Manuscript Collection: My Translation Experiences Part 2

My translation experiences part 1 explained the unique relationship I have with my best friend from Germany. My other experience is when I visited my friend in Germany in 2010. I was in Germany for about three weeks and close to the end, my friend took me to Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, Germany.

This became my favorite place she took me in Germany. My friend knew the importance of Wartburg, but I didn't. She explained to me that Martin Luther sought refuge here after he was excommunicated by Pope Leo X for his attacks on the Roman Church in his writings-one being that the Bible should be translated to German for all people to be able to read.

It would be here at Wartburg Castle that Elisabeth of Hungary, a supporter of Luther, would offer him sanctuary. He spends his time translating the New Testament from Greek to German. His translation made the Bible more accessible, and thus influenced the church and German culture.

Here is a memorial of Martin Luther at Wartburg Castle.

Wartburg Castle was my favorite place to visit in Germany because of the impact it had on Germany and the world. As I walked through the courtyard and tower I marveled in the fact that I visited the same place where Luther translated the New Testament. Even after he was excommunicated, he didn't give up. He not only translated the Bible while at Wartburg, but also continued his writing on arguments of the church.

Edith Grossman points out in her work, Why Translation Matters, that translation is undervalued. I believe she is right. I can't imagine the impact Luther's translation had in the 16th century, and today we read translations as if they were the original. When I took Mythology for my Bachelor's degree, I was required to read Metamorphoses by Ovid. The first day I had downloaded a different translation to my kindle to save money. My professor sternly, but politely told me it wasn't the translation he assigned. I didn't know it then, but he was right. As Grossman would say, translation is not a word by word job, but rewriting. Translation connects the reader to a world they would have never known. Working with Grossman's papers and learning and experiencing translation makes me grateful and apologetic for my previous ignorance.

 The side of Wartburg.

Me celebrating climbing to the entrance of Wartburg (Most of Germany's grand destinations are always at the top of a very steep hill).

March 17, 2015

Processing the Edith Grossman Manuscript Collection: Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes Tomb Found in Spain

Part 2 of my translation experiences will have to wait as we receive exciting news from Spain this morning! Spain believes that the remains of Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, has been found. Scientists seem more confident today than when they thought they found Cervantes' remains in the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in Madrid's Literary Quarter in January. It was recorded that Cervantes was buried at the Barefoot Trinitarians, but the actual grave site was unknown. Because the fragments are badly damaged, scientists are unable to individually identify Cervantes. However, according to history's account of his burial, they are sure the remains are Cervantes. One of the telling signs is that "Cervantes was shot twice in the chest and once in his left hand during a 1571 naval conflict, the Battle of Lepanto, in which the Holy League led by Spain defeated the Ottoman fleet. His bones would still show signs of the injury" (ABC News). Cervantes died April 22, 1616. Just one week after William Shakespeare. BBC News reports that Cervantes will be reburied with full honors, but the team's georadar expert Luis Avial disagrees-"Cervantes asked to be buried there and there he should stay."

I confess I haven't read much about the life of Miguel de Cervantes. My annotated bibliography is overflowing with books about Grossman, translators' world and works, the history of translation, Don Quixote, Love in the Time of Cholera, etc. I do have Donald P. McCroy's biography of Cervantes checked out from the university library. Today's news has made me flip through it with wonder. 

Throughout my Bachelor's of Art degree, I have had my English professors provide different opinions about comparing an author's life to their works. Some say they shouldn't be compared at all. That their work is separate from their life. However, as an author in the wings, I have to disagree. 

Writers write about what they know-personal experiences. I am comfortable writing fantasy. Of course there is no magic in our present world. However, I read a lot of fantasy, science fiction, mystery, etc. These works get the wheels turning, and every once in awhile I get lucky and my imagination comes up with an idea I can't ignore. Later I add actual personal experiences. For example, my current manuscript is fantasy, but takes place in the present. In one of the chapters, my main character steals and rides a motorcycle. One of my friends who agreed to critique it said she never knew that much about a motorcycle until she read that part; knowing full well I ride a motorcycle. Am I tooting my own horn here? Maybe. But my point is I believe an author's life and works are never separated. There are intertwined like the many threads in yarn. I'm a little disappointed in myself that I didn't read more about Cervantes earlier while I read Don Quixote. I will have to remedy this.

Part 2 of my translation experiences will be next!

March 14, 2015

Processing the Edith Grossman Manuscript Collection: My Translation Experiences Part 1

This past week I had to turn in an annotated bibliography. My professor let me pick what I wanted to read, but they must relate to processing Edith Grossman's papers. In Translation: Translators on Their Work and What It Means is an anthology of essays by a variety of translators and with different topics. It a very interesting and eye-opening read for those new to the translation world. Peter Cole's essay about ethics made me start thinking more concretely about my own translation experiences.

When my professor asked me to do this project, I told her I had no translation experience except Spanish courses in high school and college. Even then, I am an amateur and can read it better than writing or speaking it. But I was wrong. How could I forget two amazing translation experiences?

The first one connects to the second. My best friend lives in Germany. She was a German exchange student when I was a junior in high school. My friend at the time was her host family. She was in my global issues class, and I thought her opinions were very interesting. Because of my friend's family hosting her, we got to know one another. The first few months were difficult. She was very quiet, and justly so; living in a new country, speaking her non-native language, not knowing anyone, etc. It became a guessing game between us. As her English improved, I didn't have to guess what word(s) she was trying to say as much. Most of the time it would just turn into laughter. She declined my proposals of me learning German because she came to America to force herself to learn English. We became close and learned we had quite a bit in common. We have been best friends for eight years. It may seem crazy, but she is the friend I tell everything to, and our connection is not like any others I have.

So how could I forget this experience? I'm no translator, but I've been a sort of mediocre one for eight years, and I love it. We use Skype every couple of weeks and text on Google Hangouts in between those weeks to stay connected. A good example of my experience is when I texted her a picture of shoes I had bought of an upcoming wedding a few days ago. She texted me back that they were cute and they will also go well with "pents." I was pretty sure she meant "pants." I asked her if that's what she meant, and because she's somewhat of a comedic, she answered, "The things that cover your legs." We both laughed about it, but it made me think too. If we had been on Skype, this wouldn't have happened. She would have pronounced "pants" and it would have been fine. No clarification needed. However, because this is texting, she has to really think about it's spelling, pronunciation, etc. Therefore, it's a little more difficult. I've had to decipher her emails many times as well. I don't mind it at all. In fact I hear her German accent in my head when I read them, and it's what makes our friendship unique.

My second translation experience will be the topic of the next blog post. Stay tuned!

March 3, 2015

Processing the Edith Grossman Manuscript Collection: Assembling Archive Boxes

This semester I am processing the Edith Grossman manuscript collection at the Lilly Library of Indiana University. Ms. Grossman is one of the most important Latin American fiction writers of today. Her translation of Don Quixote is known as the finest in English. She has also translated Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, and other well known Latin American writers.

Last week one of my best friends and colleagues taught me how to put together an archival box. This process is vital to the physical support and preservation of the manuscript collection. My professor refers to it as "archival origami." My colleague has just finished working on a 400 box manuscript collection, so she is a professional in archival origami. It took me three boxes to be able to do it on my own-one watching her, two trying and getting help, and three doing it on my own. I was trying to find a link of a picture or video on how to do it, but I can't seem to find one. So I may have to convince my colleague to make our own video. Later in the day, I watched a student employee put them together with a different method, but the result was the same.

This week I began the actual processing. It's been three years since I processed my box of the Boughey Carp Lake Lumber Company for the Clarke Historical Library. Every institution is different, and therefore my professor had to refresh me on processing, chunking, and the processing standards at the Lilly Library. For example, the Clarke removes all pins, staples, paperclips, etc. because of the oxidation metal can cause later in the life of the material. The Lilly Library keeps paperclips (I'm not sure about pins) unless it prevents the researcher from looking at content. They believe the provenance of the paperclip is more important than the oxidation. An example of this in the Grossman mss. (manuscripts) is Grossman paper-clipped some papers together on the left, long side of the papers instead of the stereotypical location of the top left. If a paperclip is removed, the Lilly encloses the previously clipped material in an acid-free paper that is folded in half.

I think the difference between institutions is interesting, and I'm really enjoying this project.

August 20, 2013


Even though I love to write, it's clear I was never meant to be a blogger. This year off from school has been great. Even working full-time at the library has been a vacation. I get to go home and do whatever I want instead of trudging through coursework. I am happy to report that my migraines have decreased significantly to one or two per month. I have even been able to get off my preventative and just have medication when one does happen. However, I am nervous that once I start school, I might fall back into the abyss. Both Jesse and I are trying to prepare any way we can.

I finished NaNoWriMo for the first time since I have tried in 2009 and 2010. It was exhilarating, stressful, and exhausting. My idea for my novel had been brewing for awhile, I just needed something to motivate me to pursue it. The last day I woke up feeling awful before work, so I called in sick, which I hardly ever do. I went back to bed and later in the afternoon made it to the 50,000 words in a sick, hazy fog. I was so exhausted from writing 24/7, I didn't even look at the prizes until later. But I'm glad I did. One of my favorite prizes that I did accept (because some of them cost money or just not what I interested in) was the software Scrivener. After I looked over its features and did the tutorial with the trial. I was practically screaming,"Where have you been all my life?!!" Especially now that I have my Bachelor's degree. All those papers...Anyways, I am diverging. My prize was half off on the software, which would be $20. Awesome! The tutorial took me three days to complete! It was kind of grueling, but worth it in the end. I missed the prize of the 5 free copies of my book in paperback from CreateSpace. However, my sister has created an amazing cover for it and it motivated me to finish the story. Now all it needs is editing and then it's off to an agent I have in mind.

School starts next Monday, and as always, I am excited and dreading all the work involved. I'm excited to meet new people, especially in the library field, but I am not excited to juggle full-time work and two graduate classes. I feel very fortunate that my employer is willing to work with my schedule so I can take classes. I've also been grateful to my family and friends for encouraging me to go back to school. I'm taking Introduction to Information Science on Monday afternoons and Computer-based Information Tools Thursday nights. So I am just under the full-time grad student mark. We'll see how it goes.

Now that Summer Reading is over and the kids have gone back to school, Children's/Teen/Outreach Services is ordering more materials. So of course, more materials equates to more cataloging for me. I've also accepted to catalog all the graphic novels, manga, and DVDs now, not just C/Teen. I think I am handling the new workload pretty well. My shelves aren't too full of materials needing to be cataloged. I think that's part of the reason why I was asked to take on more materials-my shelves were empty. To be fair, I was working on plenty of projects that need to be done when there is nothing to catalog. Oh well, I read and watch a fair amount of manga, movies, and tv shows. It's nice that I get to see all the new stuff.

Jesse and I have finally moved out of that awful basement apartment about three weeks ago. We are absolutely in love with our new apartment. The neighborhood is very nice and amazingly quiet. One of our previous neighbors above the basement apartment was not so great. Ever since we moved to our new apartment, we have been sleeping like rocks. There are so many improvements with the new apartment, I am unsure where to start. It looks like a house, but it's a duplex. There are two doors on the ground floor, ours is on the left and we are on the top floor (second floor). It's on a dead end lane on the southeast side of town. We have a huge yard on both sides of the house, a nice cement porch, and no street parking! Parking is awful in Bloomington. Jesse had to park on the street at our last apartment and it was very cramped and frustrating with the pretentious, parking police neighbor. For two weeks no one lived in the bottom apartment. I think Jesse and I really needed that after the basement apartment. However, two women moved into the bottom apartment a few days ago. I haven't seen either one of them, but they have been pretty quiet any time I have been home. Good enough for me. Another great feature, for me at least, is that the YMCA is 1/2 mile away from our apartment. Which is where I am off to now to swim some laps.

Restless Thoughts,

October 31, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012

I know I haven't updated in a looonnnngggg time, but it's going to have to wait another month as I am participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). For those of you who don't know, anyone can participate. People all around the world try to write 50,000 words from November 1st to November 30th without editing. It's very exciting and inspiring. This will be my third time participating, and hopefully my first time finishing! My novel is fantasy-surprise surprise for those who know me. This year I attended a writing program/workshop at the public library where I am employed, and I feel more ready to write than ever. The author who put on the program gave me some more tools for writing, which I am very excited to use and explore. I will be drawing, coloring, and sketching right alongside writing. I don't know why I didn't think of this before because I am so visual and imaginative. My sketches will never be famous(I can barely draw stick people), but I noticed it really fueled my writing. Check out the widget above to see how far I am!

Restless Thoughts,