When I look back at my time at Oberlin, I will think of the places on campus I spent the most time. Of course this will include the eclectic places I lived, many nights at the ’Sco, long hours in King—and I will think of Mudd, the stone maze of a library with 70s flair. In addition to the many projects I proudly accomplished there—and the constantly changing relationship I have with the building’s architecture—I had an experience during my second and third years that will always stick with me.
I took a job in the Oberlin College Archives.
Upon taking this job, many of my friends were confused as to why a computer science and economics double major would decide to dedicate so much time to the archives department in Mudd Library. Even I was surprised to find myself so intrigued.
I took the position of student webmaster for the archives. Initially, I assumed this would be a straightforward, front-end, web development job. I would ask the department heads what they wanted stylistically, code it up, and that would be that. As the semester progressed, however, I found myself needing to carefully search through the collections in order to digitally record and display the historical material. The first thing I noticed was that the collection is huge! Who knew how much history was stored away in a quiet section of Mudd’s fourth floor? After finding a few photographs from an Oberlin 1909 alum and adding them to the new site, I was anxious to see more of the history stored inside the boxes.
Luckily my next project allowed me to do just that. I was tasked with building the new Oberlin College Architecture Guide website. This project required me to explore the history of the buildings on Oberlin’s campus since its founding and then style the site to complement and illustrate my findings.
My time in the archives department in Mudd Library allowed me to apply my coursework in computer science to a fascinating niche of Oberlin College’s history. I was able to complete the entire build of my website while imagining and learning about small vignettes of Oberlin history. This is one thing about Oberlin I have come to love—I can take the skills I learn in my classes and exercise them in surprising and new ways, and along the way discover a new interest in my college’s history.