Working with primary resources in the American Memory Collection has
been a great experience this year, not only because of the direction that
the Institute gave us, but also because of Betty's continuous updates of
what has been added to the collection during the year. Her emails were
constant reminders of the vast amount of information available and some were
very timely regarding curriculum content. Your comments, Judy, regarding
our particular project have been excellent, as have Peter Milbuy's
suggestions and those of other Fellows.
Thinking back to the Institute, I remember feeling trapped in that big
room with wonderful computers and technical support and not being able to
take advantage of them enough. (I'm not good at late nights!) Since our
school year ended in late June, I was not quite ready to sit still and
listen as much as was planned. The trips to the Jefferson Bldg. and
interaction with participants was what I enjoyed and learned from the most
the first couple of days.
I think that part of my frustrations were connected to expectations -
what you intended and what I read into what was expected. I like the way you
plan to separate your discussions into two parts as you mentioned in your
email. I would advise the teams to think of the Institute as a way to erect
a framework or scaffold for what will come. As Helen and I have learned
this year, things do not always work or go as expected. Sometimes the way
students approach subjects and use material is more interesting and
effective that what we planned, so being flexible and willing to adjust are
two good characteristics to keep in mind.
I also learned that I don't have to know everything. Encouraging
students to try something that I haven't mastered completely has created
joyful experiences, not threatening ones. I loved collaborating with our
students on this project just as I enjoy collaborating with teachers in
planning other projects.
The whole American Memory Fellows Program is more of an ongoing
experience than I realized in the beginning, even though you warned us,
Judy, that you "owned us for a year." At first I was too task oriented and
focused only on how to finish the lesson. (Just like our students, right?) I
learned that we will never be "finished." Take it step by step, revise, and
go again. There's always something new to learn or tweak. There is always
new material to add or use in a different way. And there are those "light
bulb" moments when someone has a bright idea requiring a change in plans.
I wish there had been more online discussion following the Institute
during the school year, though I know how difficult that is to nuture and
keep going. We are all strongly pulled away by our "day" jobs and personal
I wish there were a way for some kind of end of the year wrap up - Helen
and I feel as if we are dangling a bit. Is this feeling just ours? Did we
stub our toes some where along the way and miss something?
I wish it were possible for the kind of group feedback in person that we
had at the end of the Institute last year in discussing our proposed
lessons, or just exchanging "war stories" about our experiences in the
And most of all, I wish this year's Fellows an experience as wonderful as
the one Helen and I have had in our year-long collaboration on a topic that
both of us love. Focusing on our topic has even made me better at
collection development in our media center.
Our terrific experience wouldn't have been possible without Peter, Judy,
all the folks at the Library of Congress who changed the web page design,
making it easier to find "the right stuff", as the students put it, and all
the people it took to facilitate the program. Many thanks and enjoy this
>As you know the 1999 institute is less than 2 weeks away. This is your
>chance to speak to them. Think back through your experiences with American
>Memory and *the lesson*....
>What would you like to say to them about developing a lesson? What advice
>would you give?
>What would you like us to say to them as new Fellows, meeting each other
>and us Library folk for the first time? What advice would you give them to
>help them make the best use of the week?
>Mike Federspeil and I will have one-half hour on Sunday to talk about
>lessons and expectations. We would be happy to pass along the voices of
>Fellows who've been there, done that.
>So, sweep those summer cobwebs aside and think pithy and sage for a few
>moments and send those comments!
>ps - yesterday was 104 degrees; today is not supposed to break 100 (we'll
>Judith K. Graves
>National Digital Library Program
>Library of Congress
>Washington, D.C. 20540-1320
>[log in to unmask] (V)202/707-2562 (F) 202/252-3173
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