By Allison Thompson
We’re so excited to welcome our new colleague, Anna Opryszko as the new Public Services Supervisor in the Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine. In her role, Anna Anna will advance our work to create a welcoming space for researchers, students, and visitors alike.
Anna recently shared some reflections about her new position and the experiences that she’s had thus far in assisting curator Lois Hendrickson and assistant curator Emily Beck with their course-integrated instruction sessions.
“Fifty-nine undergraduate artifact research appointments; four course-integrated instructional sessions; one new student worker; and many meetings later… the rhythm of the Wangensteen Historical Library is starting to make sense,” said Anna.
An accessible collection
As Anna reflected on her first month on the job, she noted you don’t have to have any health sciences expertise to get excited about the health sciences here. “I’ve worked in niche collections before, but this is my first foray into the history of medicine, and I was a bit intimidated,” she explained. “What I’ve found out already is that the application of the Wangensteen Historical Library’s collection is far-reaching and surprisingly accessible.”
Moving into the classroom
Anna expressed that her time getting to know the collections and artifacts, as well as assisting students with their research questions, has been energizing and rewarding.
In a multi-section History of Medicine class, the students asked questions that tied together three interrelated strands: their academic foundation in the development of medicine, their curiosity about the materiality of the books we were viewing, and their interest in current events.
“One student wanted to know if 17th-century plague bills of mortality would have been updated with higher numbers as their knowledge of the disease grew, just as we are constantly revising case counts in our current pandemic as more information comes to light,” said Anna.
“Another student was fascinated by the ownership trail of certain items, particularly those that have a strong connection to a specific environment, country, or group of people, and wanted to know how provenance is documented and whether items would ever be repatriated,” she said. “I was so pleased to get to be part of these savvy and timely conversations!”
Anna will bring perspective from prior positions, and will focus on the public services aspect of her job title. As she explains, “I’ll be spending lots of time envisioning how best to use our new space, how to fine-tune our operational procedures, and how to open our front door a bit wider to our users.”
Please join us in welcoming Anna.