Working Behind the Scenes at the Library: A Student Reflection

The following post was written by library student assistant, Micah Tsukamoto. Micah is a senior in psychology.

During my four years at the William H. Hannon Library, I have had the chance to collect a number of unique experiences. My job at the library was the first job I ever had, and looking back has been both a fun and memorable experience. Initially starting as a Systems and Digital Initiatives student assistant in 2019, I got to see systems in the library that a majority of the students never see that support many resources and preserve Loyola Marymount University history.

I remember first clocking in and entering the small office on the 3rd floor, and greeting my supervisor, Linta Kunnathuparambil, before getting to work on the student desktop. The highlight of my first year though was having the privilege to digitize The Tower Yearbook from 1954 to 2017 for the Loyola Marymount University Yearbook Collection. Getting to look through the history of Loyola University and eventually Loyola Marymount University’s history was quite informative, and it made me proud of my work, contributing to this history by archiving these yearbooks. I edited images that became part of the Holiday Postcards Collection. I also spent hours in the digitizing lab in archives and special collections. I uploaded and provided quality control on digitized archival videos. I digitized Honors Program theses and graduate theses and dissertations. A standout memory was straining my fingers by taking off binder clips from hundreds of student theses and making a huge pile of theses, with an even larger bag of binder clips for digitization. At the time this task felt tedious, but these theses and dissertations would be important many years later.

The following semester in spring 2020, I would come back to the library only for a few months before the COVID pandemic hit. Remotely, I assisted the department in editing the library website and cleaning up data for the catalog. I would continue working remotely for the library in early 2021 of my sophomore year, and it was then that I realized just how different working alone at home in Hawaii was, compared to being in the office. I did Digital Commons projects such as uploading research posters for the Center for Urban Resilience, and publications from StudyLA. I also contributed to digital collection projects such as creating metadata for the Loyola Marymount University Archives Student Newspapers and Periodicals Collection. Without a doubt though, the coolest project I worked on this year was getting the unique opportunity to help my supervisor, Jessea Young, on the Gabrielino-Tongva Bibliography, which I worked on extensively by compiling the bibliography and formatting the chapters. I was very excited to be a part of this important project, and I enjoyed every part of contributing to it.

In the summer of 2021, I moved to acquisitions and collections development (ACD) on the 2nd floor. So, in fall 2021, the first semester back in person, I got to see my new office space in the new department, getting to meet everyone there, and getting a new work area. During my initial time with ACD, I had to learn new tasks, such as checking in, labeling, and shelving the library’s periodicals, toting books, pulling books, and compiling library invoices. It was a completely new job!

Starting in 2022, I continued to work on the Tongva Bibliography, this time working in LMU Pressbooks to export the previous bibliography data onto the website into actual reference chapters, also cleaning up the citations themselves as I uploaded them. I really enjoyed doing this project as I got to see the work I did the previous year progress and turn into something more than just a list of data. Further along in the year I was given the task of being administrator of the library’s instance of Echo360, a video hosting platform that houses hundreds of films purchased by the library and used by professors in their courses. I worked with Chan Harris, (at the time) ACD ordering assistant, to manage uploading films and subtitling them whenever new ones were acquired by the library. During this time, I also started working with Marie Kennedy, and created pull lists for WEST, a journal repository system that the Hannon Library is part of, which shares archival material. The lists I created help the library get materials like journals and guarantee them a place in a permanent collection for students, to view whenever they need it.

Other than projects in 2022, new students joined ACD who would be working alongside me, and it was a joy to get to meet them and be able to have more students be in the office at the same time. When I first came into the department, there was only one workstation for student workers, while there were two other desks that were used for storage space. As new students were hired, the desks were slowly cleaned up, and were made usable again, up until there were three functioning workstations for students, consistently being used every day. From working by myself every day, it was a great moment to see so many students working at the same time as me.

During my time at the library, I’ve had the chance to work on numerous projects which presented unique learning experiences to me, and felt impactful in terms of their importance to LMU and the library. Despite changing departments, some things stayed the same, like working with LMU Digital Commons and Echo360. Being a part of the library has been a crucial part of my time here at LMU, and I won’t forget the experiences or relationships I’ve formed with my co-workers. I’m very grateful for the opportunity that was given to me to work here in acquisitions and collections development.