This fall, Librarian and Archivist Lea Edgar welcomed a new deckhand on board. Hans Ongsansoy, a UBC student pursuing a master’s degree in library and information studies, has been attending the museum weekly to support work in our library and archives. Hans is gaining valuable experience working in a museum setting, and we benefit from his outlook and training. (Did you know the library and information studies program at UBC has been named the No. 1 program of its kind in the world for the past two years?)
Due to recent restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hans has been working remotely, but we hope to have him back in the museum soon. When he is able to work inside the museum, Hans is easy to find. Most days, he’s set up on the big table in the W.B. & M.H. Chung Library with paraphernalia splayed about; these typically include the boxes containing the archival material he’s tasked with cataloguing that day, a measuring tape, a laptop, and a pencil and eraser for making notes on the material. These notes include recording the item number, the unique number assigned to an archival item within our collection.
Hans recently completed cataloguing nearly 200 ship plans for the SS Venissieux. The ship plans were created by Robert Allan for Burrard Dry Dock in the 1940s. The plans include inboard and outboard profiles of the vessel as well as smaller drawings of ship features such as the engine room, bridge, bulkheads and propellers.
The plans have always been available to researchers, but they were only generally inventoried and lightly indexed, meaning there was little information to direct researchers to individual plans they might be interested in. That’s where Hans’s cataloguing comes in: by entering each plan into our database with robust descriptive metadata, his work ensures researchers can learn about the collection before accessing each plan with the librarian and archivist’s assistance. Researchers can access the plans more efficiently because Hans has also physically rehoused the plans in numbered file folders.
Cataloguing is exacting work, but Hans says he has fun with it and is motivated by the increased access to the collection he is providing. Hans’s current project is cataloguing historical black-and-white negatives of vessels in Burrard Inlet. Hans will also be digitizing the negatives for preservation and access reasons. Digitization is important because the physical negatives are at risk of deterioration and because it gives more researchers access to the images online.
We are fortunate that Hans chose to share his time and skills with us. But volunteers like Hans sometimes require additional supplies and equipment to complete their work. Consider donating to the museum so that our volunteers’ contributions are maximized.