Posted on June 26, 2009 by

While kids at summer camp engage in COLOR WARS, pitting bunk against bunk in a series of athletic challenges, the collections interns take on collections staff in PENCIL WARS! Stop shuddering nervous moms! No one is throwing pencils. No one is running with a sharpened writing implement. PENCIL WARS is the brain child of Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink (you may also know her from such blog posts as Wait, what are they doing with that goat?) and Intern Treats and Prizes Coordinator Rachel Kassman to increase the excitement and productivity of all those working on collections inventory. (After a week of working in the basement non-stop the moral seems to drop a little and the excitement of discovering new items starts to wear off).

A rainbow of writing implements on display!

And lo! PENCIL WARS was born: a contest to see who can use the MOST pencils down to the nub in a week. I, Jobi Zink, a.k.a. Sr. Collections Manager, a.k.a. Registrar, a.k.a. Intern Wrangler, have a colorful assortment of pencils and everyone can pick their own. This not only lets everyone pick a pencil that best expresses their personality (you might be surprised at who chooses the Hello Kitty pencils!) but also actually helps people keep track of their pencils so we don’t have 22 floating around where they can roll off the table and get underfoot, causing a potential hazard!

Honorable retirement for the pencils of years past.

All kidding aside, there’s a legitimate reason for bringing PENCIL WARS to life: when working in collections, museums only use pencils: They are reversible! They do considerably less damage to collections items then pens! Working with a sharpened pencil makes writing more legible (when dealing with object numbers this is especially important: 8 and 3, 4 and 9, 1 and 7 can all be hard to distinguish and you definitely don’t want to write in the wrong number during inventory)!

Berkley, Sean, Alison and Kim proudly present their pencils for inspection.

In a show of team solidarity Rachel, Jobi and Jenn show off their matching unicorn competition pencils.

Interns vs. staff? That seems a little unfair, after all, collections staff has the advantage of knowing what the objects are (identification does slow our interns down a bit) and of knowing how to resolve untagged/mistagged/double tagged items without asking for help. BUT the interns get to dedicate uninterrupted time to the inventory project whereas the poor collections staff is stuck doing the rest of our jobs too: exhibition planning, meeting donors, working on grant applications…the list never seems to get any shorter! Plus, there are 4 of them (interns) and only 3 of us (staff)!


To get things rolling, we needed to make sure we knew how long everyone’s pencils were! Here are the measurements:

Kim: 6 ¼” Berkley: 5 5/8” Alison: 4 ¾” Sean 4 ¾”

Jenn, Rachel and Jobi, starting with new pencils, measure in at 6 ¾”

(well, Jenn started using hers so technically she’s at 6 3/8”).

So what’s in it for the winners? Well, the team with the highest number of pencil-inches-used will win a fabulously assortment of treats and prizes, along with the requisite bragging rights! PLUS the intern who inputs the MOST data for collections inventory will win a SUPER SECRET EVEN MORE FABULOUS PRIZE!

Now aren’t you jealous? Let the PENCIL WARS begin!

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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