Tracking down that answer.

January 28, 2011

It’s always interesting to try to pin down an answer to a question when you have incomplete information.

Example: You’re given names of three faculty members and asked when and what they taught. Hint: we think it was about 20 years ago.

Let’s see… We don’t have files by faculty names.

  • College catalogs have the faculty listed.
  • 20 years ago, let’s start with 1990 — nothing.
  • Check catalogs going back 10 years at a time.
  • Find one of the names in 1978. (20 years???)
  • With each name there is a date for the year they started. Great, now go forward every year until they are no longer listed, then you know when they left.

The dates I came up with were 1967-79; 1961-66 and 1958-1965. Next problem, what courses did they teach?

  • The courses are listed, but not the instructors.
  • Check to see if there are any other faculty files anywhere.
  • We have a some files described as “biographical information”.
  • Find 2 names out of the 3.
  • First has back type information only.
  • Second…I can tell you what he was paid, when he asked to be excused from attending commencement. What’s this, a letter from the registrar telling him what rooms he was assigned for one semester, with the courses listed.

Well it’s better than nothing!


Well Da

May 27, 2010

Sometimes it’s difficult to wake up and look at a new way to complete a task.  My great thanks to Sara Greenleaf for the wake up call.

We have a faculty member who is a John Ruskin scholar.  He often travels to Europe to “walk in Ruskin’s footsteps.”  To prepare he has had a student worker come to special collections to use the 39 vol. of the works of John Ruskin.

  • The student goes through the index and finds references to all the places the faculty member will visit.
  • Next to get out the books, usually all 39 vol. and mark the pages that require copying.
  • In the past, they were photocopied.
  • Now, I photo them on the camera stand to protect the bindings.

Along comes Sara who searches out digitized volumes on the internet.  She found all but two volumes at  Now the student gives the list of pages searched in the index to the professor and he can take it from there.  I can’t believe the number of hours of work that were just saved.

You would think that, since I do digitization projects and refer students to digital books online, that I would have thought of it.  I’m sure glad that Sara did.

I just noticed that someone has been looking at my previous post on this, so here is an update.

The webpage was redesigned and the Meebo widget was moved from the middle left to the lower right.  I haven’t had a Meebo question since. Coincidence?

Two short updates.

November 4, 2008

We’ve received our first check for scans, so perhaps the policy won’t kill our reference stats.

PDF/A is working for me again.  Andrew Lyons from the help desk had to totally uninstall Adobe Pro 8.0 and reinstall.  Everything is back to normal now.  Yay, Andrew.

Up to this point all the copying and scanning we have done for researchers has been free.  It was decided that we needed to get some return for our time and supplies.

I checked with all of my “buddies” on the SAA Lone Arrangers list to see how others handle it.  The responses varied widely from no charge, to $20/hr research fees.  There seemed to be a lot around the $0.25/page level.  The one I wanted just asked for a donation and gave contact information on how to send the money.

After a discussion this is what we ended up with:

There is a minimum charge of $5 per request.  This includes up to 20 black and white copies or scans of standard size.

Make checks payable to:
Warren Hunting Smith Library Associates
Hobart & William Smith Colleges
334 Pulteney St.
Geneva, NY 14456

I wanted to go with the donation because then I wouldn’t have to track anything.  I worked out a procedure with our secretary that when I send the “Policy” to someone I will cc: her.  She will notify me when she receives a check and I will send the materials.

I have a feeling this is going to cut down on the number of requests we receive.  It will be interesting to see what happens.

IM Reference

April 17, 2008

I just answered my first reference question that came in via Meebo IM on the Archives page. A request was left yesterday afternoon at 5PM and was waiting for me this morning. I just sent out the scan of a photo of William Dexter Wilson, prof from 1850-1868. I think we might be entering the 21st Century. William Dexter Wilson

Great suggestions

February 15, 2008

Thanks for all the great suggestions on tracking what people have used on past visits to the archives.  If you haven’t seen them check out the comments on my last post.

I think I’m going to put together some combo of the suggestions.   I’m going to want it to be on the computer though.  We need to get them to add a database for Clients to Archivists Toolkit.  Then we could link to the collections used.

It is so wonderful to send a question out into the void and actually get answers!!

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