Administrative Fellow Claudia Hill Concludes Her Year at HCL

One of Claudia Hill's projects as an Administrative Fellow entailed creating "cataloging records" in VIA for the Harvard-Yenching Library's Hedda Morrison collection of Hong Kong negatives. Here she uses Edward Stokes's book about the collection—Hedda Morrison's Hong Kong—to derive cataloging text for an image. Once Imaging Services finishes digitization of the collection's photos, they'll be linked to the cataloging records Hill created.

June 20, 2006 - When Claudia Hill talks about her experience as a Harvard Administrative Fellow, she immediately likens it to a "banquet of knowledge" at which she was a privileged guest. Perhaps it's no wonder: selected for her leadership potential, she has spent the last year observing Harvard leadership in action, attending management workshops and seminars, working intensively with both Harvard College Library and the Office for Information Systems (OIS), and doing original research.

The Harvard Administrative Fellowship Program (AFP) works to attract candidates, especially those from underrepresented ethnic minority groups and those committed to addressing their underrepresentation in university administration, to administrative careers in higher education. In seeking diversity, the program selects professionals from both within Harvard and without. Hill was one of 13 selected this past year, nine from outside the University. For those chosen, AFP offers a 12-month management experience in an academic environment complemented by a professional development program. The program is run by the Office of the Assistant to the President (OAP).

Harvard College Library had not recently participated in the 16-year-old program when Susan Lee, Associate Librarian of HCL for Planning and Administration, and Steve Marley, Director of Human Resource Services, decided it would benefit HCL to engage once again in the program. The College Library seeks to encourage diversity, and saw the program as a worthwhile effort, said Marley.

"One aim of the program is to introduce participants to Harvard with the idea that conceivably they might stay," said Marley. "But, if they don't, it's a one-year term appointment and, at the end of the year, some return to their home institutions, but with Harvard experience on their résumé." 

So HCL threw its doors open wide. "Instead of saying, 'We have a position at Lamont or some specific library,'" explained Marley, "we decided to advertise that we were interested in candidates with library background and we would see who applied and, depending on their interests, try to place them."

Among the applicants was Hill, who spent the last seven-and-a-half years at Columbia University as Original and Special Materials Cataloger, and who planned to focus at Harvard on information preservation and access. She also possessed a decidedly useful knowledge of database design and development. This background meshed with HCL needs, and HCL developed a role for her with the aid of Jan Merrill-Oldham, Malloy-Rabinowitz Preservation Librarian, placing her into two assignments that dealt with both preservation and access, one in HCL Imaging Services and one in the HUL Office of Information Systems (OIS).

Hill's task at HCL, under the supervision of Maggie Hale, Librarian for Collections Digitization, involved creating metadata or "cataloging records" in the Visual Information Access (VIA) system for the Harvard-Yenching Library's Hedda Morrison collection of Hong Kong negatives, which date from 1946–47. Guided by those who know the collection best—Ray Lum, Asian Bibliographer/Librarian for the Western Languages Collection in Widener and Harvard-Yenching, and Stephen Sylvester, Photographer in HCL Imaging Services—Hill helped develop a tracking spreadsheet for the negatives and photographs, write guidelines for cataloging the images, and derive cataloging text from the book about the collection (Edward Stokes's Hedda Morrison's Hong Kong). Once Imaging Services finishes digitization of the collection's photos, they'll be linked to the cataloging records Hill created.

For Hill's other major assignment, in OIS, she worked with the Aleph Reporting Group and the OIS Reporting Team to help implement Cognos ReportNet, a new Web-based reporting system that will replace BI-Query. One of the assets of the Cognos ReportNet is that it isn't necessary to install and maintain the application on individual users' desktops, as with BI-Query, which saves countless hours of IT staff time, according to Hill. With Systems Librarian Martha Creedon, who chairs the ALEPH Reporting Group and OIS Reporting Team, and Library Analyst and Training Specialist Patricia Hatch, she helped customize the Cognos ReportNet portal, write documentation for the changes, and transfer user help information from BI-Query to Cognos ReportNet.

As an AFP Fellow, Hill also participated in an education program designed to enhance the Fellows' administrative and professional skills and to help clarify their career objectives. Hill attended regularly scheduled seminars, group workshops, and lectures given by senior administrators and faculty members at the University on various aspects of leadership development. She learned about the day-to-day administration of Harvard from their point of view, as well as how to cultivate University resources for information and professional contacts. Back at HCL, Lee also encouraged Hill to attend any and all committee meetings that interested her in order to expand her understanding of the HCL administration.

Last but not least, said Hill, "I had the opportunity to conduct original research and writing, thereby making use of the superb collections and services of the Harvard College Library." She based her research on two 1944 photographs that depicted some of the first Caribbean librarians—including Hill's father—and their book van, which served remote library users on the island of Trinidad. Digging deep to decipher the history, Hill credits HCL's Interlibrary Loan department for helping her obtain the specialized international publications she needed for research. Her work paid off, culminating in an essay titled "Early Days of the Central Library and the Book Van in Trinidad and Tobago."

That essay, currently pending publication, has been expanded for an upcoming book on Caribbean libraries. The expanded essay, co-written with a librarian from The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago, is tentatively titled "From Then ‘Til Now: The Development of Rural Library Services in Trinidad and Tobago."

All this made for a busy year, but Hill is grateful for the fellowship's breadth and for the collaboration between HCL and HUL that made it possible. "It has been a veritable feast," she emphasized, "and one that I enjoyed immensely."

What's more, when her fellowship ends, she's decided to remain at Harvard. "To top off this extraordinary time of study and work at Harvard," said Hill, "FAS Computer Services has hired me as Product Manager for Web and Database Applications following completion of my Fellowship."

Sounds like a win-win situation for both Hill and Harvard.

Page Last Reviewed: May 12, 2009