It is great to be back at HSP, this time in a more formal role as Rights and Reproductions Coordinator. I oversee all the requests for images for use in research, publications, and exhibitions. While a lot of paperwork is involved in the process, there are some tasks that have taught me more about HSP and its holdings.
When a request arrives in the Rights and Reproductions mailbox, I take the information, and begin a short research period to locate the item. Sometimes it is very easy to find something, especially when collection numbers or call numbers are listed. Other times, someone is looking for images that complement what they are writing about. These tasks are much more difficult, and usually the research time allotted is simply not enough. These more complicated research questions are sent to the Research-By-Mail department.
From learning how to search the card catalog more efficiently, to finding the materials in our large building has been a challenge. I still have to ask for directions for those collections that I simply cannot find. Our Public Services staff, with their many years of combined knowledge, can usually direct me exactly where I need to go.
From letters to photographs to drawings, I’ve searched for them all. Sometimes I have time to read the letters, and other times, I simply get to admire the handwriting. I really enjoy looking at the maps and seeing how Philadelphia has grown. In my free moments, I also get to delve into images in the collections that I simply want to see (such as Benjamin Rush, the founder of my alma mater, Dickinson College, below).
Portrait of Benjamin Rush, Society Portrait Collection V88
Once we find an image, and the interested party has paid, we digitize the image, and send it to the user. As you can imagine, we receive many requests, and so my days are usually filled with searching for items that people need. While challenging, it is very rewarding.