What should get sent to archives?

February 20, 2009

I keep having boxes full of “stuff” left on my doorstep, with no explanation of what it is, or who sent it.  I’ll bet you do too.

I had a bit of a success yesterday.  When we went through the stuff I figured out who must have sent it and sent a friendly email asking that in the future they include information on Who? and What?

It turned out they were getting ready to send a couple more boxes.  I was able to go over before hand and off load at least 1/2 a box of things we don’t need.  I also was able to set some guidelines:

  • If it’s a picture in a frame, take it out of the frame before sending.
  • Include as much information about who is in the picture, what the event was, and the date that you can possibly come up with.
  • If you have absolutely no information, you can keep it.

Now I’ll have to work out a way to spread the word. 🙂

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5 Responses to “What should get sent to archives?”

  1. LO Says:

    This happened to me a lot at a previous job. Usually it was a library staff member (’cause staff from the rest of the school wouldn’t even be able to find my desk and they’d drop it with circ). So every now and then I’d send out an email to library staff saying “I know mind reader should be in my job description, but it isn’t. Please leave a note with anything you leave on my desk.” They could always tell me who something came from.

    At my current job, distance keeps people from just dropping the baby on the doorstep so they call us or Labor Pool. Labor Pool knows not to deliver records to us unless we’ve done the requesting and tells the requester to call us first. The carrot for the offices is that we pick it up personally if it is less than three boxes or we pay the Labor Pool fee if they go through us. We go through re-education when there is a change of staff in Labor Pool (not a frequent occurance), but one delivery made without our permission needing to be redelivered to the original office is a painful enough reminder.

  2. Abby Rovner Says:

    That is how most of the new material gets to my archives. I put up a sign saying “Submitting to the Archives? Please fill out the form” and included a form and pencils. Of course, they’d have to be able to unlock the door to get to said form, but if they were going to offload a box, hopefully they’d ask someone to open the door for them. As for staff accepting things, I’ve been working on a “What is an archives?” PowerPoint in the hopes that one say they will take the archives seriously and I can do a bit of training.


  3. Just telling them not to give it to you if they cannot identify it is a bit extreme! Is this a policy only for this one donor or are you telling everyone this? The reason I ask is that sometimes what one donor cannot identify, a researcher can. You might miss out on some great photographs and other stuff if you make this a solid policy.


    • I see your point. In this case it was Alumni House just cleaning out before a move.

      I would not have a way to get the photo into a researchers hands if I had no way to classify it. I don’t have a folder for “Unknown people standing on the street in front of an unknown house at an unknown date”.

      I’d be interested to hear how you handle such items.


  4. […] enough, I had read this post a while back and thought, oh you poor thing, I am so glad I don’t have to deal with that.  […]


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