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Student Appreciation: work from home edition

May 5, 2020

This week on the blog, we are taking a moment to show our team of student workers our appreciation. Even with our rapidly changing reality, our students remain an integral part of Special Collections. Their ability to quickly adjust to working from home, taking online classes, and handling rapidly changing living situations and schedules is more than admirable-it’s amazing!

Here’s a glimpse into each of our students’ new realities:

China Whitby:

Hello Everyone, my name is China Whitby, and I am a first-year Graduate Student in the Art history and Criticism department. When I am not swamped by schoolwork, I love to spend my time reading, play video games, board games, and arguing with my friends over the DC Multiverse. Working from home these past few weeks has been a significant adjustment, but I am determined to make the most of my forced staycation. 20200305_105915The hardest part about this transition has been getting myself into the mindset of working on my homework at home rather than on campus, I only use my house to eat, sleep, and relax so actually doing homework here has been a bit challenging. But, now I have a mostly stable routine that balances my health and responsibility

I recently finished transcribing a magazine called “SNAP.” The articles are charming and do a fantastic job of capturing events and celebrations that affected the San Antonio community. I highly recommend this magazine to anyone interested in learning about how national events like desegregation and integration affected San Antonio and Texas at a local level.

Carson Crouch:

CarsonI’ve been working from home on my back patio enjoying the beautiful sunshine! I always make a cup of coffee before settling in and getting to work. I’m currently doing research on setting up a digital exhibition and I can’t wait to see it come to fruition!

(Carson is an undergraduate Art History student. She has worked in the Special Collections reading room at the JPL assisting patrons. She is graduating later this month, and we while we are sad to see her go, we are very excited for her!)


Carla Burgos:


It has been a difficult transition working at home from the workplace. At work, I only focus on one thing at my desk: transcribing, pulling books from the shelves, making mylar covers for the antique books, or little boxes to put these books in. At home, the biggest challenges were adjusting on many happenings going on such as my job duties, homework, children’s online schooling, and my husband’s job as he is working at home, too. My husband and I have to ensure we take turns to preparing meals for breakfast and lunch to feed them as each of us had very different lunch times.

As the weeks went by, the chaotic confusion calmed down to become more routine, as we familiarized with our places and our work/school performance improved. We are still adjusting though.

I am now transcribing the new cookbook, Cocinera Mexicana written in 1888. It is fascinating to explore the ingredients used in each recipe, see how these meals were prepared, and compare how differently words were spelled back then.

(Carla is an Art History graduate student. To learn more about Carla’s transcription work, check out her blog post: On Transcribing Recipe Books.)

Brodie Harmon:

My experience moving from school to home has had its ups and downs.  Before the quarantine, I worked at the front desk of Special Collections, answering the phone and helping students and patrons who come in to do research at the Reading Room.  I also transported carts of materials to and from the vaults at GSR to the JPL, and had side projects such as scanning documents and re-shelving in the book vault.  I definitely miss the quiet days of sitting in the Reading Room and working with the other great students and librarians in our corner of the library.


Since the self-isolation has begun, I have had to juggle wrapping up my final grad classes, getting all of my thesis preparation done, and figuring out how to work from home for the first time in my life.  I also have plenty of distractions to keep me busy (with two dogs, five rats and a roommate), and finding ways to distinguish ‘work time’ from ‘regular home time’ has been quite a journey.  It has definitely tested my self-discipline, haha, but I have found a way to designate a desk in my room and quiet time to work throughout the week.  Weekly Zoom meetings with the librarians have also been a big help in keeping up with each other and retaining a bit of structure!

What I have been working on during this quarantine has been editing video transcriptions from our Media Library.  I started off with vintage UTSA commercials from the 1970s, listening and taking notes of my edits for the transcription file, then fixing them so that they match the original audio to the best of my ability.  I have enjoyed working on these and have learned a lot about how to format transcriptions and the way captions are broken up with the progressing time stamps.  It’s also nice to know we are working hard to make these videos more accurate and accessible!  My latest video that has been uploaded is an interview clip with Ruben Bonilla as he discusses Willie Velasquez and their activist work as a part of our Southwest Voter Registration Project archives.  Check it out here!

Everything has been different from one week to the last, with unexpected family issues and ever-changing due dates.  I know we are all trying our best in these uncertain times, and my biggest advice is to take it one day at a time.  If we just take it day by day, we can get through this!

Arianna Borazjanian:

Transitioning to working at home instead of on campus has had its fair share of difficulties. One of the issues I’ve faced while trying to work from home has been balancing a good schedule between my class assignments, work for Special Collections, and things in my personal life. I’m very appreciative of how everyone has been so understanding and flexible, since this is my first semester working for Special collections.

ariannaOne of the things I miss about working on campus was getting to interact with everyone else who works in Special Collections, while we still have weekly Zoom meetings they aren’t the same. Everyone was so welcoming and getting to chat with them in between tasks was always really nice.

Since some of the work has been limited due to the transition I’ve been working more on rare book transcripts on San Antonio’s history and oral history transcripts of the The La Jita Girl Scout group. The video transcripts I’ve been working on have been quite interesting, I don’t know that much about Girl Scouts in general since I’ve never been one but learning that most of the camp was built by young women back in the 1950s and 60s was really inspiring. With that being said I look forward to continuing to work for Special collections as long as I can!

(Arianna is a Studio Art undergraduate student.)

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