ʻUluʻulu is saying goodbye to our project assistant, Sidney Louie. After three years and graduating from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa with her masters degree in Library and Information Science she will be moving to the Honolulu Museum of Art as their archivist. We asked Sidney to do a quick interview with us before she headed out on her last day.
How did you learn about ‘Ulu‘ulu and why did you decide to work here?
When I left my longtime job in media, I thought about my next career steps. I listed the things that made me happy, and on top of that list were film and libraries. I heard about ‘Ulu‘ulu Moving Image Archive among my peers in the media industry, but I did not fathom the scope and depth of the collections. My first visit to the archive was in Spring 2018, where I met up with Heather, Janel, Robbie, and Koa. Heather showed me the collection vault, which pretty much won me over. Janel told me that she was teaching a moving image archive course at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM) that fall semester. Soon afterwards, I enrolled in the Library and Information Science program at UHM, jumped on the archives track, and took Janel’s excellent class. A year later, the OHA project assistant job opened, and I bolted on the opportunity to work here.
Could you share a little about the work you did at ‘Ulu’ulu?
I worked on a digitization project supported by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) in partnership with OHA’s Papakilo Database. The digital content consists of television programs that focus on Hawaiian history, arts, and culture: “The Best of Treasures,” “Holo Mai Pele,” “Legacy of Light,” “Merrie Monarch Festival,” and “Pau Hana Years.” We accessioned, digitized, described, and made accessible 521 video tapes containing 224 hours of audiovisual recordings. I also worked on a few other side projects: helped Hōkū process incoming collections, wrote grants with Janel, and formatted transcripts for closed captioning.
Was there anything about the videos you worked with that was surprising or unexpected?
I appreciate seeing the raw footage of two or more cameras on a particular scene. You can view quite a few of them in “Holo Mai Pele” from the Pacific Islanders in Communications collection. I enjoy seeing different angles and vantage points of the same scene. It helps me think about looking at an object with a different perspective.
You’ve recently graduated from the Library and Information Sciences program at UH Mānoa, where are you headed now and what will you be doing there?
I will be working as the archivist at the Honolulu Museum of Art, processing and preserving HoMAʻs institutional memory that includes not only the historic building on Beretania Street, but also the Spalding House (formerly The Contemporary Museum) and the Linekona Arts Center. I will also be involved with records management and reference and research services.
Now that you have worked as a Moving Image Archivist, what is your favorite archival media format and why?
Before, now, and forever is film. I was fascinated with 8mm and Super 8 film when I was young. I would watch the 8mm film reels in one of those small projectors in a carrel at the public library. I remember the 16mm films that we watched in elementary school. I also loved 35mm back when I worked at the Hawaiʻi International Film Festival when we hauled those heavy film cans.
Tell us a little about what it was like for the last couple of years working for an AV archive through the pandemic?
I worked from home for about 14 months. Although I prefer working at the archive, I do like watching hours of video footage from home on my comfy reading chair or couch. I also tend do my best writing from home. However, I like to think about different ways of approaching a topic, and I enjoy listening to various points of view from my co-workers, especially when I hit an obstacle. I definitely will miss the camaraderie I have developed with my ʻUluʻulu colleagues.
Do you have any recommendations for movies or TV shows that feature libraries, archives, or archival footage?
I was fascinated by Peter Jackson’s “They Shall Not Grow Old,” seeing how much his technical team worked on not only restoring the archival film footage, but also transforming it through adjustments of speed and light. It’s interesting to see an auteur’s handling of archival footage, which is vastly different from documentary filmmakers who use archival footage to present, argue, or support their own thesis or perspective. Most recently, I am enamored with Questlove’s “Summer of Soul” about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. The music and performances in the archival concert footage, shot by TV producer Hal Tulchin, are uplifting, toe-tapping, and delightful. It is a treasure trove of talent.
Thank you, Sidney, for your wonderful work and friendship. We wish you the best in your next chapter!