The William Blake Archive offices at UNC-Chapel Hill are on the fifth floor of Greenlaw Hall, where it is still hot in October. After riding my bike to campus, I first turn on the little fan clipped to the bookshelf beside my desk and let the meager stream of air coax me into a more presentable state. This is my time to respond to the Archive’s email messages—usually requests from scholars, sometimes from artists, to reproduce images in the Archive. When I send along a high-resolution image, for which reproduction permission has been granted and the transaction documented on one of the Archive’s many tracking sheets, I always pause to admire Blake’s work, which makes my work somewhat slower, but more enjoyable.
Then I go next door to coordinate with Ashley Reed, the Archive’s Project Manager, under whom I have been training for the past year and a half, and whose skills at the position I can only hope to approximate. We discuss the status of the Archive’s various workflows—color-correcting images, image mark-up (tagging), transcription, changes to some of the Archive’s website features, our publication schedule—all of which are being handled by the nineteen members of the Archive working in various geographic and mental states. Often this coordinating session will involve a video conference with Rachel Lee, who, with Archive editor Morris Eaves, oversees the encoding of Blake’s manuscript work at the Archive’s office at the University of Rochester. The Luddite in me is still amazed every time I see the shared Google doc that serves as our weekly video conference agenda transform on one of the two screens before Ashley and me as Rachel types in the agreed-upon resolution to an agenda item from her Rochester office, while she simultaneously discusses the next agenda item with us and maintains eye contact through the other monitor.
Then I step across the hall to meet with Archive editor Joseph Viscomi regarding recently acquired images in need of titling and cataloging according to Archive protocol, a task that has fallen to me over the past several months. As a literature graduate student who studies Blake, it’s a task that seems more like a privilege. Questions concerning proper titling or cataloguing will sometimes necessitate an email to California, where the Archive’s third editor, Robert N. Essick, lives and works. I’m no physicist, and I know there is a time difference between North Carolina and California, but I swear he sometimes responds to my inquiries before I’ve hit send. I want to remark on this phenomenon to Katie Carlson, who is at the next work station in an office shared by several Archive assistants, both graduate and undergraduate. But she is concentrating on color-correcting a digital image in Photoshop against a transparency illuminated by a lightbox next to her monitor. So I just continue titling and cataloging, and the glad day proceeds.