I just added a new resource guide to my Finding Aids page on our campus buildings.

When I started my morph from librarian to archivist someone told me you can’t call something a finding aid if it isn’t describing a distinct collection, so I went with “resource guide” for this type of project. There are subjects, like campus buildings, that we get asked about all of the time and a resource guide helps us put our hands on items that are spread out throughout the collection more quickly.

I have my student workers

  • list everything they can find in the card catalog and the online catalog on a subject (there is little overlap between the two)
  • add description information from the cataloging
  • pull the material to check that it’s where it should be

Then I cut and paste the information into NoteTab and create an EAD “resource guide”.

We have done the same thing for Elizabeth Blackwell, first woman to receive her degree as a Doctor of Medicine (this one is a PDF)ย  and Dr. Benjamin Hale, President of Hobart College from 1836 to 1858.

I don’t know if anyone else uses them, but the speed up the reference process for me when I get questions. ๐Ÿ™‚



October 24, 2006

Sixteen banker boxes (19.2 cubic feet) of material sent to us from the Communications Office last June are now processed, labeled, boxed and in cold storage thanks to my hard working student workers: Katelyn Carpenter, Nick Cream Jessica Julius, Sarah Loomis Hayley Mason, Brian Schubmehl, Kate Schuster, Liz Staino, and Scott White!!

I’m not taking any bets on how long it will take to put the finding aid together. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The first of the “Joseph J. Myler Collection of Dime Novels” have arrived via Fed-Ex. The donor is going through them and using E-bay to determine value for tax purposes, to avoid having them appraised. His accountant told him he can donate $5000/year without an appraisal so he said he’d “send $5000/year until we are both dead.” ๐Ÿ™‚ He also said he thinks he has alot more than 900!
They are stapled into file folders that are not acid free. All the folders are nicely labeled. I think we will remove the staples and put them in acid free folders. I’m not sure the best way to preserve the labels. (As always, I’m open to suggestions.)

This first batch are from the Beadle Half Dime Library. I’ll organize them by Vol. and No.

Abner Jackson Journal

October 17, 2006

The blog for the Abner Jackson Journal is now available at abnerjackson.wordpress.com. I will try to post a new entry once or twice a week. I think it will be fun to see want the Hobart College president was thinking about in the mid 19th Century.

Student workers

October 16, 2006

There was some discussion on the Lone Arrangers blog concerning frustration with student workers, so I thought I’d pass on some tips I’ve learned over the 3 years I’ve been doing this.

  • Before they take job make sure they know they are actually going to have to work, not just sit and do homework. That’s the kind of job some are looking for.
  • It is a flexible schedule, but each students has specific hours when they are expected. I can’t have more than 2 workers at a time.
  • I stress that, while I’m understanding about school work load and will give them time off, they MUST let me know if they are not coming in. I give them my card for contact information (that always seems to impress them for some reason.) If they don’t show, and I haven’t heard from them, I e-mail them to find out if they are alright, or if there is a problem. It seems to drive home the fact that they need to let me know they aren’t coming.
  • I give them the complete tour, go over the rules for researchers and let them know they are responsible for helping me keep and eye on researchers. They accompany researchers to the copier and “guard the gates” if I leave the archives for a meeting or something. Since I take this seriously, so do they.
  • I stress many times, that if you’re not sure where something goes, or how to do something they should ASK. Our archives is very confusing, and unfamiliar territory for most.
  • I teach them a project, check several times that they are doing it correctly. Then I trust them, and so far they have lived up to the trust.
  • I try to be a friend and mentor, as well as a supervisor, so there is always discussion on what fun things we do over the weekend, how their classes are going, etc.
  • We all enjoy the great treasures that keep showing up in Archives.

I hope this is helpful to those who are just starting to use students. ๐Ÿ™‚

Dime Novels 3

October 3, 2006

I also contacted Peter D. Verheyen, Preservation & Digital Access Librarian, Special Collections Research Center,Syracuse University Library, too. Here is his response:

In terms of storage and access, that is always a difficult challenge as the physical condition of the items is often quite brittle making handling a chore, even under the best of conditions. The originals of the microfilmed volumes are no longer accessible, but all others are. Volumes that are not in hard covers are placed in phase boxes (simple wrappers made of folder stock), a task completed by students. Manuals are online .
One thing I do urge is that the volumes not be handled in gloves. I will admit (even as a conservator) that I am not in favor of the use of gloves for the vast majority of materials. This holds particularly true dime novels and pulp as the brittle paper catches readily in the rough edges of the paper and leads to tears and breaks. Clean (bare) hands are best.

So that’s two votes for phase boxes. I have students that are great phase box manufactors, but their eyes are going to roll at 900. Of course most will be close to the same size, so perhaps we can get an assembly line going. ๐Ÿ™‚

Peter wrote back after reading Andrea’s comment:

Re: Andrea Reithmayer’s comment on deacidification. It is great if the materials, paper, are still in good condition as it can greatly reduce the aging of the paper. If the paper is already brittle, it will not make it less so, unfortunately. It is also a rather expensive treatment so pieces need to be carefully selected. She is also spot-on about the staples making the volumes difficult to open and read.

Dime Novels 2

October 3, 2006

I contacted Andrea Reithmayer at the U of R (See 6/12/2006 and 6/15/2006) with my question on preservation of the dime novels that are being donated. Here is her reply:

We have a large collection of dime novels ourselves. The textblocks are nearly always quite brittle, often bound with staples which makes ‘reading’ them difficult. Ours are stored in phase boxes.

I think some mass deacidification projects have been done somewhere on dime novels (not here!) and I have a vague memory of some institution that discarded all the textblocks and kept only the covers (not here!).

Anyhow, short of mass deacidification, the only thing really to be done is protect them from light, dust/dirt, temp & humidity changes.

She also shared her online exhibit on 19th Century publisher’s bindings the is both beautiful and informative.

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