The Research Experience

Now that the research process is over, I thought I’ll dedicate a post to this part. This is my last semester and I definitely had some experience with research. But so far, until this class, I used mostly online resources like Questia and Google Scholar. Even when I used real books I ordered them online from Amazon straight to my apartment. The only libraries that I went to were the University ones, either here or back in Israel when I was an undergrad.

This time, it was a whole different story. Walking around the Meatpacking District, looking for materials, people and testimonials was a really unique experience. I really enjoyed looking for ideas and arguments on the street, not in articles. Taking photos and expressing ideas while using visual aids was one of the greatest aspects of this research. I love how instead of just saying something, I can express it using a picture.

But what I loved the most, without a doubt, was walking around the NYPL archives and bookshelves, looking for pictures, books, articles or whatever else I can find. It was great going through the heavy, old folders looking for photos I can use. Since this archive is not computerized, you have two options: you can ask for assistance and wait for the librarian to pick her brain and think if she can remember anything, or think creatively and look for photos of the Meatpacking District in every possible folder that may be relevant. ¬†Sitting there next to an old lady that wrote down countless math formulas and a teenager who was looking for pictures of old football games was nearly magical. It felt like time had stopped by in this room. Even with everyone’s laptops and tablets, we were all relying on old, tangible materials. For the first time in the past years I had a chance to conduct some old school research, thinking about that fact that sometimes it’s also about the process, not just the final result.

1 Comment

  • As a fan of “old school” research and tangible media, I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed this experience. You might remember our McPherson reading from earlier this semester, in which she says that database-based work helps us engage with our research materials in new ways, and perhaps enables us to ask different research questions. While the interactive mapping experience may have had this effect on you — the analogue resource-collection process (e.g., doing “fieldwork” and archival research, talking to people) seems to have had an equally profound impact. I’m glad you were able to end your graduate studies with an experience that allowed you to combine the old and the new, the material and the immaterial, in such rewarding ways.