“Remember all that stuff you found for me last year…?”

February 13, 2008

I’m beginning to wonder if I should keep a record of everything I ever find for people, and where I found it, since they don’t seem to keep track themselves.  In this case it’s photos pulled from a 17 box collection on an uncataloged subject.  Sometimes I feel lucky to fulfill the request the first time.  To remember a year later, how I tracked it down requires a younger brain I guess.

Any of you have a system for this kind of thing?


5 Responses to ““Remember all that stuff you found for me last year…?””

  1. Heidi Says:

    Hi Linda, I’ve been lurking for a while here…

    In my previous job, I used an Access system someone before me set up called the “Client Management Database.” It had typical address fields in it, plus fields to describe what type of “client” they were (alumni, current employee, current student, external, etc.) and the method of question delivery (email, mail, phone, in person etc.). There was a large box to detail the request, and then some sub-tables for resources used and a very handy invoice form in case we had to bill for reprints. I could query to generate monthly statistics, and do individual reports on each reference question. It was rich and wonderful. I wish I had the skills to set up a relational database like that by myself! And, I wish I had taken an empty copy of it when I left that place!!

    Where I work now, I set up a statistics system on paper that basically includes all the same info, with the hope of one day moving it into a database. It’s a much smaller institution though, and the reference demands are very different. I’m not expected to submit monthly reports; even an annual report is optional! So I’m keeping the records for myself, but I know they’ll be useful for one thing or another eventually.

    I know you’re using Archivist’s Toolkit, which is I think what brought me here in the first place. I have looked into Archon a bit, in part because I think it does include some kind of statistics/client info features. I’m so bogged down with institutional anniversary stuff this year, but I think if we ever do start using a database for the archives it will probably end up being a hosted version of PastPerfect.

    Anyway… good luck! 🙂

  2. Jeanne Says:

    If privacy issues could be properly addressed, this sounds like a great candidate for a shared online web application. Archivists (esp lone arrangers) could create an account for their archive and log all the stuff Heidi describes above.

  3. Janine Says:

    We keep a diary of who came in when and which collections they used. We also keep all our ‘issue’ slips – ie – paper slips that show who used which collections and which folders within the collections.

  4. These are great suggestions, I’ll have to think through what is the best procedure for us. We have a log for people to sign in but don’t keep information on what information they use. Thanks for your help.

  5. Jim Says:


    Here at Dickinson College, we had the problem of having all those little call slips that we’d have to look through if someone ever came back looking for that one item they had used sometime in the past. That wasn’t a very efficient way to find the information. Besides that, most people had trouble filling out those call slips properly, and inevitably we had to look at the finding aid or online catalog to see exactly what is was they wanted and then fill out the call slip ourselves. The solution we came up with was this. When users register (when they come in to use our Archives for the first time) we keep that registration form in our active file for several years. We printed a grid on the back of the registration form so everything that person requests, we write on the back of the form – it acts as both registration form and call slip. So if a student comes back to us now and says they want to see “that book” that they looked at last September, we just pull their registration form and look to see what we pulled for them back then. We no longer have paper call slips, so we’ve reduced paper use as well.

    We just adopted this method this past summer, but we’ve been very happy with the way it’s worked out so far. I’d be happy to email you a PDF of the form if you’d like to see it.

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