Crisis in Archives!

September 7, 2006

Last spring a whole class had the same topic assigned.  I am a trusting person at heart, I had student workers retrieving materials (as always) and I let many students work together and pass materials back and forth.

This morning the fall class began working on the same assignment.  I freaked when we found that one of the folders was missing.  So now we are in lock down for materials on “Tommy the Traveler.”  I’m keeping all the materials at my desk.  Each student has to get the folder from me and return it to me.

There is always the chance that the folder was just mis-shelved. We will keep looking!

I’d be interested in comments on how other Lone Arrangers in small archives handle a similiar situation.


3 Responses to “Crisis in Archives!”

  1. Barbara Says:

    A missing (or misplaced) folder or item makes me feel the same way.

    In the past, we’ve used a sign-in sheet for each student, noting each item requested, providing one box at a time. Of course, students will share and when they rush to leave, it isn’t always practical or expedient to take the time to check to see if all folders are accounted for (although this has become more of a habit as I’ve worked with students).

    It’s an issue all archives deal with and each one I’ve worked at had various methods of trying to provide access and balance that intent with security. We want the students to use our materials, we also want to impress the importance of original order, provenance, etc. I believe we all have varying degrees of success!

    However, in the end, it’s just a fine-tuning exercise, isn’t it?

    Good luck! I know of no archives or special collections that hasn’t had these types of issues and they usually help us refine our procedures but in the end, if we provide access, risk will always be there.

  2. melissa sue Says:

    what a bummer. i know sue was very excited about that project. it sucks that one of her students was so irresponsible!!

  3. I don’t know that it was one of Sue’s students. Odds are it was just mis-shelved. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will still turn up.

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