~Daily Journal~ Week 14

December 3, 2012: Sorting and first draft of finding aid SCC submitted. 5 1/2 hours

State Council of Churches re-labeled and ready to be placed on their permanent shelves.

State Council of Churches re-labeled and ready to be placed on their permanent shelves.

Brigette was gone today, but I had plenty to do!  I was able to get through the final sorting of the last 5 boxes of the SCC collection.  It is now all re-housed and beautifully organized and has been rounded out to 10 boxes and 5 linear feet.  The largest collection I have been able to process, regardless, I finished the history note, scope and contents and the contents list and submitted the finding aid to Brigette for review.  I took some pictures of the more interesting state council of churches logo’s that I found.

December 4, 2012: FCC DAM and cataloging, FCC blog post, SCC folder labeling. 4 1/2 hours

I uploaded the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America Records, 1905-1971 finding aid to the Burke Library website so I have done DAM for three items now.  I also cataloged the  collection in Voyager, which means the CLIO record is now visible (as you well know).  The collection was tweeted from the Burke Library twitter account and a status update was posted on the Burke Facebook page.  Thankfully Brigette is willing to sit down and walk me through all the steps.  It is complicated and I’m sure I would have to do this a dozen more times before I actually would be able to do it without the help of a cheat sheet.  I also wrote out my blog post on the Bethlehem steel strike and did the final touches on the labeling of the folders for SCC.  I am just waiting to hear back from Brigette on my SCC finding aid so it can be sent to Ruth for final submission and hopefully I will be able to do the DAM on that next week, it would be nice to end everything on time for my final presentation.

Total hours: 10

Running total: 134

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~Daily Journal~ Week 4

September 24, 2012: Label folders, re-folder materials, remove all metal. 3 1/2 hours

I did much the same stuff that I worked on last week Friday.  I was able to finish the first 2 1/2 boxes.  I am amazed at how long it takes to relabel things so that my handwriting is neat.  I am anxious to get back to finishing this part of the organization.  I am really enjoying it, more than I thought that I would.  I am getting nervous about the finding aid though.  I have done a little research and as far as I can tell “American Bilateral Conversations” is not an organization but more of a label linking like documents together.  I think I am going to have to do a little bit of research on each of the organizations involved.  Like “The American Baptist Convention’s Commission on Christian Unity and the Bishops Commission for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Affairs.”  It’s quite a mouthful and I’m not even sure I’ll find anything on it.  The more interesting part of all of this is to come.  I hope I can write something that makes sense and is useful.

September 28, 2012: Crossing Borders lecture and exhibit at The Jewish Museum. 2 3/4 hours

Crossing Borders lecture by David Wachtel, Senior Consultant for Special Collections at The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary and Senior Consultant for Judaica at Sotheby’s.

I was so impressed with this exhibit, it is fantastic.  Crossing Borders is done in conjunction with the Bodleian Library.  I am sitting here trying to describe to you what is in this exhibit and I’m finding it difficult to pare it down into a small journal entry.  I think a quote my tour guide gave the group sets up the idea behind the exhibition quite well.

“Writing did not take place in a vacuum, but is a reflection of various cultures and propensities of various times and it provides a window on the mentality, preoccupations and tastes of the people who were responsible for it in it’s variegated forms.” ~Leonard Boyle, Oxonian Latin palaeogrpaher.

These manuscripts are not only beautiful, they are evidence of more than just what is written down in them, they show the prevailing artistic tastes, cultural mores and give a window into the minds of people who created them.  They are more than words on a page they are proof of individual tastes (one example was from a manuscript that was illuminated by the owner himself) and history.  I enjoyed the lecture.  I loved how they were able to integrate modern technology seamlessly along with these old manuscripts.  A number of iPads were located in each room.  Each one contained high quality images of other pages of the books on display.  One room contained around 6 iPads all to show each page of the Kennicott Bible that was on display.  You could zoom in and look at tiny details.  It was wonderful.  I hope I get a chance to go back and look at things a little more carefully.

This fable was about Chatty Turtle, who fell from his ride after making comments about people who were passing by. Moral: Silence is golden.

Total hours:  6 1/4

Running total: 39

~Daily Journal~ Week 2

September 10, 2012: Inventory 3 3/4 hours

6 boxes of the WAB: American Bilateral Conversations Records Collection

I started my inventory of the collection today.  I was able to get through 2 1/4 boxes.   To begin with I am making a very detailed inventory, since I am trying to get an idea of what this collection is about.  I’ll post a copy of the inventory when I finish the job.  Additionally I found out that I would be able the librarian viewing of the exhibit of “Crossing Borders” at the Jewish Museum on the 21st instead of coming into the Burke.  I had to register today.  I’ll talk a lot more about the exhibit on the 21st but until then if you’re interested in seeing a preview, here is an article in the NYT that talks about it.

September 11, 2012: Inventory Part 2 3 1/4 hours 

After a very sad train ride into the city this morning that put a nice big delay in my schedule and a damper on my mood, I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to finish the inventory, but I was lucky!  I was able to get through everything in the boxes.  By the time I got to the last two boxes I stopped being so detailed in the description, since it was pretty much the same sorts of things.  Plus I was now familiar with what the collection was about.  Here is the final inventory.  [pdf]

September 14, 2012: Work Plan finished/Finding Aid begun 3 3/4 hours

I created a work plan, [pdf] which according to the process Brigette has created to help with organization has 6 parts to it.  I will summarize those points below.

1. Statement of the research potential of the collection
2. Description of the current physical state of the collection
3. Appraisal (why is this in the archives?)
4. Recommendations for organization
5. Description of preservation needs of any special formats
6. Finding aid elements, divide into series, etc..

After I had finished I sent it to Brigette for review and then had a discussion with her regarding any points she wanted to bring out.  Most of the discussion was based on the future organization of the collection and how to make the finding aid.  They have a template (how awesome is that!)  So I am able to just follow the template.  As I noted at the end of the work plan I am going to start with just a basic organization of Roman Catholic led conversations followed by Protestant led conversations.  Once that is in place I need to start checking paper topic, each research paper’s availability in other mediums to determine if the paper remains in the collection or is separated out.  Once that is done I will have another discussion with Brigette so we can decide whether to just arrange the remaining materials by date or if a topical arrangement would be better for those trying to find these materials.  I’m looking forward to work on Monday.

Total hours: 10 3/4

Running total: 23 1/4

~Daily Journal~ Week 1

September 4, 2012:  Orientation, blog writing and reading. 4  1/4 hours

Today was my first official day at the Burke.  I made sure that all of my passwords worked for the computer and then I was set to work writing a blog entry for the Burke Archives Blog (the link is down at the bottom of the page in the Blogroll).  If you want to take a look at what I wrote here it is: “Internship for the Uninitiated Archivist.”  Some of it will seem familiar from previous journal entries here, but there is some new stuff.  That took up most of my time AND Brigette assigned a bunch of reading for me to go over before I’m allowed to touch a collection to process.  So I have some homework.

I started out reading “The Power of Archives: Archivist Values and Value in the Post-Modern Age” [pdf] by Mark Greene, which was his Society of American Archivist (SAA) August 2008 presidential address.  This is an incredible speech that is applicable not only to archivists, but librarians in general.  I think all of us need to advocate more for our positions so that the public, managers, principals, government officials, etc… don’t forget how valuable we are to them and the communities we serve. He outlined 10 values that all archivist should adapt if they want to disabuse the notion that archivist are just “quiet professionals carrying out an admired but practically frivolous activity…”

The 10 Values every Archivist (or Librarian) must possess according to Mark Greene

  1. Professionalism–we participate in a job that is based on “specialized knowledge.”
  2. Collectivity–we need to collect in order to build collections that inter-relate and learn to work in collaboration with other institutions that have similar missions.
  3. Activism–we are active in shaping the historical record and we must advocate on archival issues.
  4. Selection–we are not just custodians of material, but active agents in creating historical record.
  5. Preservation–use should almost always trump preservation for some use is better than no use at all.
  6. Democracy–we are the public watchdog in support of access and government accountability.
  7. Service–it is the lynchpin between access and use.
  8. Diversity–we need to reflect it in our collections, as well as in the people we hire.
  9. Use & Access–use is the end of all archival effort to facilitate that we need to make our collections useful without requiring perfect answers to long term preservation.
  10. History–we are the repositories of primary source documents.  “Our collections are first, most important, chief, key, principal, major, crucial – all synonyms for primary.”

In the end our “elevator speech” as archivists should go something like this: “Archivists are professionals who shoulder the power of defining and providing access to the primary sources of history, primary sources that protect rights, educate students, inform the public and support a primal human desire to understand our past.”

Good stuff!  I want to use this speech as part of my research paper.  I have 10 more articles to read (I’ll do that next time).  Those articles include the processing guides by both Columbia University Libraries (CUL) and the Burke.  I have not read any of the articles she has given me before, so I’m looking forward to finding out what is in them.

September 7, 2012:  Reading, reading and more reading. 3  3/4 hours

I just wanted to begin by saying Happy 40th Birthday to me! I guess I’m an adult now.

I got to spend my time today reading the remainder of the articles.  Amazingly enough I was able to finish, but I feel like I need to spend a little more time on the Processing Guides developed by the Burke and CUL. I will spend a bit more time next week on that, but I am anxious to begin the collection.

I read the preface and the statement of principles to Describing Archives: A Content Standard better known as DACS, which was developed as a replacement for the “skeletal” rules in AACR2.  The biggest thing I got out of this reading was “respect des fonds“…in English it means provenance and original order.  These two things are the backbone of archival arrangement.  Basically materials must be kept together and not mixed or combined with records of another individual (respecting the provenance) and in their original order if it existed or has been maintained.  Additionally the collection must be organized in hierarchical groupings like collection, record group, series, file and item.   Description of the materials reflects the arrangement and the rules of description apply to all archival materials regardless of form or medium.  The descriptive system must be able to represent and maintain the relationships among the various parts of the hierarchy, with the user being able to navigate between higher and lower levels of description.

I was also assigned Chapter 4 “The Practice of Arrangement and Description” from the book Arranging and Describing Archives and Manuscripts by Kathleen Roe.  This is a great resource to have handy when in the process of going through a collection, especially for someone like me who doesn’t have much experience.  There were plenty of tables with examples and concise instructions.  I took notes and made additional notations on the handout Brigette gave me, hopefully I’ll be able to apply what was in this reading.  Respect des fonds and context were two of the overarching themes of the chapter. When forming context we should rely on information gathered from the collection that are REGULAR, PREDOMINANT, PROMINENT, COMMON, or MAJOR EVENTS.  To underline the necessity of respect des fonds the chapter comes with many examples of forms and suggestions for arrangement.

In Chapter 5 “Arrangement and Description” in Keeping Archives by Ann Pederson again the two things that stood out to me were CONTEXT and respect des fonds.  The book was full of case studies which were extremely helpful in illustrating the process.  I liked her suggestion that the archivist learn about all the various types of photo-mechanical reproductions…pictures show up a lot in archives, they all have different issues so it would be nice to know a little bit about them.  Also she posed some questions that archivist should ask themselves as they are going through a collection to get them thinking about arrangement and context. Who created the records? Who maintained them? What type of records are here?  What do they record? What are the range of dates? What are the actual dates of the records themselves? What is the arrangement and is there is basis for that arrangement? If the records are kept in volumes are they used for all the same things? Diaries or account ledgers? I thought these were great things to keep in mind.

I also reviewed “Conservation Guidelines: Transfer of Library Materials to the Harvard Depository” [pdf] which gave ideas on how to take care of a number of items you’d find in an archive.  As well as a couple of “Processing Cheat Sheets” and an archiving assignment that Brigette was given while she was in school to illustrate the arrangement and description process.

Whew! That was a lot of reading! But good for the uninitiated archivist!  I wish more of these had been included in the Management of Archives and Special Collections class at Pratt that I attended.

Bibliography

  • Archivists, Society of American. Describing Archives: A Content Standard. Society of American Archivists, 2007. Print.
  • Greene, Mark. “The Power of Archives: Archivists’ Values and Value in the Postmodern Age (with an Introduction by Dennis Meissner).” American Archivist 72.1 (2009): 13–41. Print.
  • Pederson, Ann, ed. Keeping Archives. First ed. Australian Society of Archivist Incorporated, 1987. Print.
  • Roe, Kathleen. Arranging and Describing Archives and Manuscripts. Society of American Archivists, 2005. Print.
NOTE: 
I’ve been at the Burke for a week and I must say the work environment is quite different after working on the 6th floor of the Frick Art Reference Library, which has a magnificent view of Central Park and at Poets House, which was beautiful in a very minimalist way.  It is quite the change.  Check out this slide show to see the difference.

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Total hours: 8
Running total: 12  1/2