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Managing small archives

Slides for a workshop delivered at the Archives Association of Ontario's 2017 conference in Toronto.

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Managing small archives

  1. 1. Managing Small Archives Amanda Hill
  2. 2. Workshop outline • Establishing an archives service • Physical control • Intellectual control • Reference services • Outreach and promotion
  3. 3. What are archives? • Archives are collections of records which have been selected for permanent preservation because of their value as evidence or as a source for historical or other research • Records are recorded information in any form or medium, created by the activities of organizations and people; they serve an active purpose while in current use and some of them are later selected and preserved as part of an archival collection • Archival collections are usually unique. They need to be carefully stored and managed to protect and preserve them for current and future use
  4. 4. What is an archives? • An institution dedicated to preserving archival collections for the long term… • …and making them available for use • Can be a building, a room, or even a closet
  5. 5. Establishing an archives service • High-level issues CABHC: HS 2-26 (front) Alsace - Panorama of Massereaux valley by French Pictorial Service, c. 1918
  6. 6. Authority • Archives should be established by an institution, with a commitment to: – continuous and regular (but not necessarily daily) operation and office hours – appropriate funding levels
  7. 7. Mission Statement • A one-sentence declaration of the role of the archives for the community it serves Activity: Write a mission statement for your archives
  8. 8. CABHC mission statement • The Community Archives provides professional archives services by identifying, acquiring, preserving and promoting access to records documenting the economic, political, geographic, cultural, and social development of Belleville and Hastings County.
  9. 9. Mandate • Archives should have a clear policy on what they will acquire. An acquisition policy should: – State the geographic, subject or institutional basis for acquisitions – Avoid competition with other collecting institutions – Assist potential donors – Be shared publicly • in Ontario, collecting policies can be shared online as part of an institution’s profile on Archeion (
  10. 10. Activity: Writing an acquisition policy Handout: Tips and example acquisition policies CABHC: 2016-70 Records of the Women’s Study Guild of Belleville
  11. 11. AAO’s Provincial Acquisition Strategy for Ontario 1.0 STRATEGY STATEMENT Ontario archives will acquire archival materials on a cooperative basis 2.0 STRATEGY OBJECTIVE The objective of this strategy is to ensure and promote the cooperative acquisition and preservation of Ontario’s archival heritage at the local, regional and provincial levels and to lay the foundation for a provincial documentation strategy aimed at filling in the gaps in the province’s documentary memory Handout: Provincial Acquisition Strategy
  12. 12. Working with a Board/management • Communicate regularly: keep your Board up to date with the archives’ activities to keep their interest • Be honest: show your Board members where you need help, they want to know that they can assist you Discussion: what would you like to share about your Board/management experiences?
  13. 13. Working with volunteers • Invaluable for a small archives – Can achieve amazing things • Need training and regular supervision – Can be time-consuming • Recognition is important Discussion: questions/observations about working with volunteers?
  14. 14. Budgeting • Hopefully, you have funding from parent institution – You can do a lot with very little – Don’t skimp on preservation materials – Monitor expenses • External fundraising – Have project plans ready for potential funding sources as they arise – Make use of Federal/Provincial grants schemes • Young Canada Works (YCW) • Documentary Heritage Communities Program (DHCP)
  15. 15. Physical control ‘Acrobats, Granville Island, Vancouver, 2006’
  16. 16. What are the biggest threats to archival collections? • Water • Fire • Theft • Animals • Light • Handling
  17. 17. Avoiding water issues (1) • If the building is in an area known to be at risk of flooding, archives should be stored on the second floor or above. Ideally, they should be relocated to another building less at risk • Shelving should be raised off the ground to avoid damage from minor flooding or leaks • Roofing, eavestroughs and drains for rainwater should be in good condition and regularly checked and maintained to prevent water entering the building • Water tanks and pipe work inside the building should be in good condition and regularly checked and maintained to prevent leaks
  18. 18. Avoiding water issues (2) • Pipe work should not run through storage areas • Storage areas should not be directly below water tanks or pipe work • Basement storage should be avoided. Where used, it needs special attention to prevent flooding. If possible, it should not be near to storm drains or sewage pipes. • Never store archives on the floor
  19. 19. Fire protection (1) • Never use open fires, stoves, gas, radiant electric or paraffin heaters in an archive building • Storage areas should have fire-resistant doors, walls, ceilings, floors and windows • Most offices have 20-minute fire resistant doors. The ideal for archives is four-hour fire resistant doors
  20. 20. Fire protection (2) • Electric wiring circuits should be routed through metal conduits • Master switches for electrical circuits should be outside the storage areas • Smoke detectors should be fitted inside and outside the storage areas • Smoke detectors should link to the building’s main alarm system and, where possible, the Fire Department
  21. 21. Theft prevention (1) • Storage must be lockable and kept locked when not in use • Access to the storage area must be controlled and monitored • If storage areas have to be shared, archives should be clearly separated and only handled by people responsible for their care
  22. 22. Theft prevention (2) • No item should be moved or removed without the permission of those people responsible for their care • If an item is moved or removed, a note must be left with details of where it is and who has it • A register of withdrawals and returns should be kept • A separate area for viewing and using the archives should be set aside if possible • All areas should be monitored when in use
  23. 23. Storage areas (1) • Shelving should preferably be open metal racking. To prevent damp it should not be fixed directly to exterior walls. • Wooden shelving or cabinets sealed and treated with fire resistant solvent-free paint or water-based varnish is acceptable for boxed material or bound volumes • Wood can give off acetic acid, which causes chemical damage to archives and can make them deteriorate faster • Newer wood usually gives off more acetic acid. Older wood can give off less, but continues to give off acetic acid over time
  24. 24. Storage areas (2) • Open shelves allow circulation of air and allow easy inspection and cleaning. The lowest shelf should be around 15cm from the floor • The top of the shelves should be at least 30cm from overhead lights to prevent heat damage • Shelving should be open-fronted and easy to access. The shelves should be large enough to fully support the archives stored on them • The shelves should be strong enough to fully support the weight of the materials placed on them – and the floors need to be able to support the shelves!
  25. 25. Storage areas (3) • High temperatures and high relative humidity speed up chemical changes in the materials archives are made from. This speeds up degradation • Relative humidity is the amount of moisture in the air at particular temperatures - measuring it tells us how moist the air is in a particular room or area • Changes in temperature and relative humidity can also increase degradation of the materials the archives are made from • A stable environment where the temperature and humidity does not change much is best
  26. 26. Storage areas (4) • When relative humidity is above 65%, mould can germinate and spread through collections causing extensive damage • Paper and parchment should not be stored below 40% relative humidity for long periods of time as it can become dry and brittle. This increases the risk of damage through mishandling • Photographs and film benefit from storage at a lower relative humidity of 30-35% • Avoid natural light from outside in your storage area • Keep lights on for a minimum amount of time, and only when staff are inside your storage area • Keep food and drink out of the archives
  27. 27. Avoiding light damage (1) • Store archival materials away from light. Keep them in a windowless room or cover the windows with heavy black curtains and blinds. • Keep the lights off or low whenever possible and reduce the wattage of bulbs. • Install ultraviolet filters over fluorescent lighting. These filters are plastic covers that slip over the fluorescent tubes, screening out ultraviolet rays. • Inspect materials regularly, checking for fading or drying. Closely monitor any items stored in the open or without proper containers • Wrap materials in archival tissue and box them in lightproof containers if they need special protection
  28. 28. Avoiding light damage (2) • Avoid using original items in displays or exhibits. if possible, replace them with copies, either photographic reproductions or photocopies • Packaging is an extra layer of protection for archives. It should protect the contents from light and pollution. It also provides some protection from damage, pests, and changes in light or humidity • Use archival boxes, folders, sleeves and other packaging materials wherever possible. • Archival boxes and packaging are low in acid and lignin and designed to protect the archives to professional standards
  29. 29. Storing materials • If you cannot afford archival-quality boxes or packaging, use clean, lidded cardboard boxes for temporary storage. Cardboard file storage boxes or file folders can be used for short- term storage • Always label boxes clearly, so that you know what they contain • Never over-fill boxes, especially where this makes them too heavy to handle. This can cause damage to the contents and is a health and safety risk to staff
  30. 30. Handling archival materials (1) • Handle archives as little as possible • Ensure hands are clean and dry • Examine archives for signs of damage before making them available • Use only pencil for taking notes • Never use adhesive items to mark pages (or Post-it notes) • Be careful when moving heavy items, use a cart and don’t store them on high shelves
  31. 31. Handling archival materials (2) • Never moisten or lick fingers to turn pages • Never carry heavy, awkward or large items on your own • Support documents at all times – large items need a large table. Bound volumes need supports such as foam wedges or pillows so that they don’t open too far • Use soft, flexible weights to hold pages in place
  32. 32. Handling archival materials (3) • Photocopying and scanning can cause damage to documents through exposure to strong light and closing the lid to flatten the document • Scan rather than photocopy, then print further copies from the digital file • Document feeder trays on photocopiers and scanners can damage documents and should not be used
  33. 33. Disaster planning • Three stages: 1. Planning/prevention 2. Response 3. Recovery Ambulance at Camp Rathbun, Deseronto CABHC: HC000074
  34. 34. Planning • Identify possible risks • Produce a floor plan with location of collections and emergency equipment (sprinklers, fire extinguishers etc.) • Preparing evacuation procedures for staff and researchers • Identifying collection priorities for recovery • Identifying appropriate recovery/salvage techniques for all collection media • Developing a contact list of volunteers, conservators and others with expertise in various aspects of disaster recovery
  35. 35. Disaster Supplies • Dehumidifier • Metal cart • Plastic containers • Flashlights • 50-ft. extension cord (grounded) • Portable electric fan • Wet vacuum • Blank newsprint • Freezer or wax paper • Plastic trash bags • Plastic buckets and trash can • Paper towels • Sponges • Mop • Monofilament nylon (fishing) line • Broom • Gloves (rubber/leather) • Rubber boots and aprons • Safety glasses • Plastic sheeting (stored with scissors and tape) • First aid kit • Clipboards, paper, pens, markers
  36. 36. Response (1) • Contact people on contact list • Enter when safe • Stop flow of water • Reduce temperature • Set up dehumidifiers • Protect collections with plastic sheeting • Remove unaffected materials from areas where they are at risk • Freeze wet documents, volumes, and parchment for later freeze drying
  37. 37. Response (2)
  38. 38. Recovery • Clean and (if necessary) decontaminate building • Replace damaged equipment/furniture • Clean or repair collections
  39. 39. AAO support • Archives Emergency Response Network – Coordinated by Archives Advisor – Regional response groups based around Chapters – Voluntary mutual assistance in event of a disaster
  40. 40. Activity: Writing a disaster plan Handout: Outline of disaster plan CABHC: 2016-81/4 "Belleville Flood 1936 Front St. "
  41. 41. Intellectual control • Inventories • Appraisal • Accessioning • Arrangement • Description
  43. 43. Is there an inventory? • Shelf-by-shelf listing of the contents of the archive • If there isn’t one, creating one is a great way of getting to know what your archives actually holds • If there’s a chance you will move your archives in the future, it is essential!
  44. 44. CABHC inventory
  45. 45. Before moving
  46. 46. APPRAISAL
  47. 47. Appraisal • Is this material worth preserving? – Always a subjective decision • Relevance to acquisition policy • Evidential value • Quantity • Uniqueness • Condition • Likelihood of use • Political considerations
  48. 48. Monetary appraisal • Avoid if possible • Just not feasible for small archives to administer Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board appraisals
  49. 49. Selective appraisal • You don’t have to take everything offered – Fine to accept only part of a collection – Or to take a sample of a large set of records • Sometimes people really only need permission to throw things out
  50. 50. Re-appraisal • A process of looking back at earlier accessions and seeing if they are earning their space on the shelves • If not, they may be candidates for deaccessioning: – Return to donor – Transfer – Confidential destruction – Sale
  52. 52. Transfer of ownership • Important to document every new addition to the archives • May receive records through: – External donation – Transfer from parent body – Loan (temporary or indefinite)
  53. 53. Deed of Gift • For external donations Discussion: what information do you need to record in a Deed of Gift?
  54. 54. Deed of Gift information • Donor’s name and contact details • Archives’ name • Description of the materials donated • Statement about transfer of copyright • De-accessioning statement • Date of donation • Signatures of donor and archivist Handout: CABHC Deed of Gift form
  55. 55. Transfers from parent body Handout: CABHC Transfer form
  56. 56. Loans • Archives used to accept collections on ‘indefinite loans’ • …but not encouraged now… • Short-term loans for purposes of copying or exhibit are fine Handout: CABHC Loan form
  57. 57. Using ownership forms • Complete immediately on receipt of items • Keep forms in your accessions filing system • Give a copy to the donor/transferer/lender • Write a thank-you letter or email to donor
  59. 59. Accession Number • Each new addition to the archives has its own accession number – Even if it is an addition to an earlier collection • Accession numbers usually contain a date element, e.g.: – 2017-39 – 017.39
  60. 60. Accession Register • A record of new accessions Discussion: what information do you need to record in your Accession Register?
  61. 61. Accession register details • Accession number • Date of receipt • Location • Donor name and address • Title • Description • Extent • Restrictions
  62. 62. Example Accession Register • The Accession Register logs summary information about incoming materials and donor’s details (including contact information) • This information is not made available to the public • Finding aids (more detailed public archival descriptions) are created from Accession Register information
  64. 64. Why do we arrange and describe records? – To know what we’ve got and where it is – To make materials accessible to potential users – To explain the context of the creation and use of records
  65. 65. Arrangement is the intellectual and/or physical processes of organizing documents in accordance with accepted archival principles Description is the creation of an accurate representation of the archival material by the process of capturing, collating, analyzing, and organizing information that serves to identify archival material and to explain the context and records systems that produced it. Rules for Archival Description (revised version, 2008)
  66. 66. Archival principles • Provenance • Original order • Ease of use
  67. 67. Provenance • Chain of custody is important for demonstrating the authenticity of archival material • We need to know the context and use of materials over time in order for them to have archival integrity • Materials from one source or creator should not be mixed with materials from another
  68. 68. Provenance • Chain of custody is important for demonstrating the authenticity of archival material • We need to know the context and use of materials over time in order for them to have archival integrity • Materials from one source or creator should not be mixed with materials from another CABHC: DA 2014.01 (1) Unidentified family
  69. 69. • Context is crucial to understanding records • Aim to preserve or recreate the arrangement of materials to maintain the context of their creation and use Original order
  70. 70. Respect des fonds Respect des fonds Provenance Original order
  71. 71. Definition of a fonds All of the documents, regardless of form or medium, naturally generated and/or accumulated and used by a particular person, family or corporate body in the conduct of personal or corporate activity International Council on Archives (1992) ’Statement of Principles Regarding Archival Description’ Archivaria 34
  72. 72. Acc. No. Records received Nature of Receipt A The minute book of the Guelph Chapter of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire, dating 1955-1960. Donated in May, 1980 by Georges Babineau, who found it in the attic of the house he purchased. B 2 m of minutes, correspondence and other textual records, dating 1966-1975, of the Galt Chapter of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire. Donated in May, 1988 by Estelle Trethewey. She was the last recording secretary of the chapter, which folded in 1975. C 212 loose photographs taken by Estelle Trethewey, dating 1971-1982, showing events of the Galt Chapter of the IODE, and also other social and family occasions in the Galt/Cambridge Area. Donated in June, 1996 by Johanna Trethewey, the granddaughter of Estelle Trethewey. D A second minute book of the Guelph Chapter of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire, dating 1960-1966. Donated in October, 1999 by Marlys Cabbalie, daughter of the a member of the Guelph Chapter of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire. Activity: Identifying fonds in accessions
  73. 73. Fonds • Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire, Guelph Chapter fonds (Accessions A and D) • Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire, Galt Chapter fonds (Accession B) • Estelle Trethewey fonds (Accession C)
  74. 74. More terminology! • Fonds are usually subdivided into series • A series is a group of records within a fonds which are related to each other in some way • Series contain files or items
  75. 75. Collections • Materials that were not generated as part of the activity of a person or organisation • For example: – A group of postcards of a local town – Records relating to a particular subject, assembled by an individual • These are not fonds, but collections • Their provenance and original order may have been lost, but they can be arranged and described as a discrete group of records in the same way as a fonds
  76. 76. Ease of use • Think about the end user!
  78. 78. 1. Gather background information • Find out as much as you can about the creator of the materials you are going to be processing – Accession records and correspondence – Internet searches • Sometimes you may have very little information on the creator, which makes Step 2 even more important…
  79. 79. 2. Survey the material • Look through the fonds/collection • Get a sense of what it contains • See if there is any obvious original order • Identify materials which can be disposed of – Make a note of anything you do discard
  80. 80. 3. Physically arrange the material • Group related materials together – reflecting original order if that is possible – bearing the end user in mind – following any local conventions
  81. 81. Example of a repository with an arrangement and numbering scheme for certain types of records
  82. 82. Example arrangement Grantchester Women’s Institute records Minutes Minute Book, 1966-1969 Minute Book, 1969-1975 Correspondence Administrative correspondence Thank-you letters Other materials Items Files Series Fonds
  83. 83. Anti-Apartheid Movement papers, being sorted in Oxford,1997
  84. 84. Mike Terry (1947- 2008), executive secretary of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, 1975- 1994 A case of ‘original disorder’!
  85. 85. • (A) Boycott Movement papers, 1959-1961 • (B) AAM Governing Bodies, 1960-1995 • (C) AAM Committees, 1960-1995 • (D) Local Anti-Apartheid Groups, [ca. 1960]-1995 • (E) Professional and Special Interest Groups Against Apartheid, 1970-1994 • (F) Local Authorities Against Apartheid, [ca. 1960]-1995 • (G) Britain, 1959-1995 • (H) South Africa, 1959-1995 • (I) South Africa in Transition, 1986-1995 • (J) Other African Countries, 1961-1995 • (K) Europe, 1972-1995 • (L) Commonwealth, 1960-1994 • (M) Overseas anti-apartheid organisations, 1963-1995 • (N) International Organisations, 1960-1995 • (O) Campaigns, 1956-1995 • (P) AAM Head Office, 1960-1995 • (Q) Correspondence, 1960-1995 • (R) Anti-Apartheid Enterprises (AAE), 1986-1990 • (S) Clapham Common Productions Limited, 1987-1995 • (T) Freedom Productions Limited, 1987-1995 • (U) Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA), 1991-1998 • (V) Photographs and Audio-Visual Material, 1900-[ca. 1999] • (W) Posters, 1963-[ca. 1999] • (X) Exhibition Material, Artwork and Objects, [ca. 1960]-[ca. 1999] • (Y) Printed Material, 1960-1994 • (Z) Miscellaneous Material, [ca. 1960]-[ca. 1999] 1,400 boxes of material, once catalogued!
  86. 86. Limited arrangement
  87. 87. Boxes in the Basement • 89 boxes – materials had already been used by researchers: box numbers were known and records could not be re- arranged • Had to sort items within each box – Original boxes were replaced with archival packaging – Each box filled around 3 archive boxes
  88. 88. Not part of the original order
  89. 89. 4. Prepare material for storage • Package materials in acid-free containers – Less essential if your storage area is climate-controlled • Remove rubber bands • Remove metal fastenings, if this is your institution’s policy – This may not always be appropriate, depending on the bulk of material involved • Label materials and packaging with reference numbers
  90. 90. Important! • Bearing in mind the principles of provenance, original order, and making life easier for users… – There is no ‘right way’ to arrange materials – Common sense counts for much! – Making archives available for use is the key thing
  91. 91. Summary • If it is possible to do so, arrange materials in a way that reflects the way they were originally generated and used • If not, think about the best arrangement from the point of view of the users of the materials
  93. 93. Description • A means of establishing intellectual control over materials held in archives – What we have – Where to find it • A way of sharing information with potential users about what our records contain
  94. 94. Archival description • Defined by Canadian Rules for Archival Description as: “…the creation of accurate representations of archival material. Archivists capture, collate, analyze, and organize information about material that serves to identify it and to explain its context and the systems that produced it.” Rules for Archival Description (revised version, 2008)
  95. 95. Standards for archival description • No standard way to describe archives until late 20th century • Then: a flurry of descriptive standards – In Canada: Rules for Archival Description (RAD) – 1990 (revised 2008) – Internationally: International Standard for Archival Description (General) (ISAD(G)) - 1994
  96. 96. Series System • Developed in Australia in 1960s and widely used by archives of all kinds there • In Canada it is mainly used to describe government records such as those held by the Archives of Ontario
  97. 97. Key principles for archival description • Describe from the general to the specific • Arrangement defines description: once the material is arranged in a logical fashion, the description should be straightforward – Start with the fonds or collection level, then describe each series, with its associated files or items • Do not repeat information unnecessarily • Contain information relevant to the level of description
  98. 98. Grantchester Women’s Institute records Minutes Minute Book, 1966-1969 Minute Book, 1969-1975 Correspondence Administrative correspondence Thank-you letters Other materials Items Files Series Fonds Arrangement defines description
  99. 99. Level of description Contents Reference number Fonds Overview of entire fonds 2008.33 Fonds-level description only Title: Grantchester Women’s Institute Reference: 2008.33 Dates: 1966-2003 Extent: 133cm Repository: Smalltown Community Archives Scope and Content: Minute books, correspondence and other records relating to Grantchester Women’s Institute. Administrative History: Grantchester Women’s Institute was organized in December 1966. It closed in 2003.
  100. 100. Level of description Contents Possible number Fonds Overview of entire fonds 2008.33 Series 1 Description of minute books 2008.33/1 Series 2 Description of correspondence 2008.33/2 Series 3 Overall description of ‘other materials’ 2008.33/3 A more detailed finding aid
  101. 101. Title: Grantchester Women’s Institute Reference: 2008.33 Dates: 1966-2003 Extent: 133cm Repository: Smalltown Community Archives Scope and Content: Minute books, correspondence and other records relating to Grantchester Women’s Institute. Administrative History: Grantchester Women’s Institute was organized in December 1966. It closed in 2003. 2008.33/1 Minute books 1966-1975 The minute books record the activities of the Institute and decisions made by its committees 2008.33/2 Correspondence 1987-2003 2008.33/3 Other materials
  102. 102. Level of description Contents Possible number Fonds Overview of entire fonds 2008.33 Series 1 Description of minute books 2008.33/1 Item 1 Description of minute book 1 2008.33/1/1 Item 2 Description of minute book 2 2008.33/1/2 Series 2 Description of correspondence 2008.33/2 File 1 Description of administrative correspondence 2008.33/2/1 File 2 Description of thank-you letters 2008.33/2/2 Series 3 Overall description of ‘other materials’ 2008.33/3 Textual layout of detailed finding aid In this example, the numbering reflects the hierarchy of the arrangement.
  103. 103. Title: Grantchester Women’s Institute Reference: 2008.33 Dates: 1966-2003 Extent: 133cm Repository: Smalltown Community Archives Scope and Content: Minute books, correspondence and other records relating to Grantchester Women’s Institute. Administrative History: Grantchester Women’s Institute was organized in December 1966. It closed in 2003. 2008.33/1 Minute books 1966-1975 The minute books record the activities of the Institute and decisions made by its committees 2008.33/1/1 Minute book 1966-1969 2008.33/1/2 Minute book 1969-1975 …
  104. 104. What level of description is appropriate? • Depends on: – Nature of the materials – User demand – Time and expertise available • Anything is better than nothing!
  105. 105. What should we describe? Discussion: what information do we need to record in a fonds/collection-level description?
  106. 106. Descriptive standards • Archival description standards break down descriptions into a set of key elements • This helps archivists describe materials in a consistent way • …and helps users know what to expect from an archival description
  107. 107. Some core elements of description Fonds/Collection level Repository Title Name of creator Dates Size/extent of materials Information about creator Description of materials (scope and content) Restrictions on access Reference number Custodial history of the material These elements are common to most archival descriptive standards
  108. 108. Fonds/Collection level Repository Title Name of creator Dates Size/extent of materials Information about creator Description of materials (scope and content) Collection or fonds level
  109. 109. At lower levels of description Series/File/Item level Title Dates Size Description of materials
  110. 110. Series/File/Item level Title Dates Size/extent of materials Description of materials Series, file or item level
  111. 111. Archival descriptive standards concentrate on describing fonds Information about records Information about creator(s) Archival description
  112. 112. The Series System • For certain types of records, particularly those of governments, it is easier to describe records at the level of series, rather than as a fonds • The creating body may change frequently (e.g. with government reorganizations), while the records continue to be created according to their original purpose
  113. 113. Series System entities Record series First creator Second creator Third creator
  114. 114. Tools for archival description • Word-processing • Spreadsheets or databases • Dedicated archival software How do you plan to share your descriptions with your users?
  115. 115. Some things to look for • Support for archival description standards • Ability to publish descriptions online • Ability to export descriptions to a different system in future • Integration with accessioning process
  116. 116. In summary • Descriptions of archives help archivists and end users: • Find materials • Understand how and why they were created • Using descriptive standards makes sharing information easier • Even a very summary description is better than none!
  118. 118. Share information • Make your finding aids available • Provide regular opening hours – and stick to them! – use an appointment system, if necessary • Welcome new users and assume they are new to using archives – listen to their research request – explain how to use the archives
  119. 119. General guidelines • Have a clean, tidy, space suitable for consulting archives • Provide equal access to all • Supervise archives users (discreetly!) • Don’t let users into storage areas unsupervised • Keep a log of visitors, phone calls, email queries – Useful for compiling statistics
  120. 120. Visitor log • Used to be kept as a visitor book in many archives – but gathering personal information like addresses and and having it available to anyone to read is problematic • Better to get researchers to fill in individual forms and keep those
  121. 121. Ordering items • Deseronto: didn’t need order forms • CABHC: Two-part forms ($44 for 400)
  122. 122. Managing queries • Keep a log – could be in the form of a journal – or a register in a spreadsheet
  123. 123. Dealing with copies • Scan, rather than photocopy, if possible • Create a filing system for scans which mirrors your physical system
  124. 124. Link copies to queries • Using shortcuts, to save storage space
  125. 125. Services • Decide on your policy relating to use of cameras in the reading room • Consider asking people for donations rather than charging set fees for making scans/copies
  126. 126. Using archives • Don’t give researchers too much material at once • Don’t let food or drink near archival materials • Insist on the use of pencils • Provide white gloves for handling photographs
  127. 127. Discussion: do you have any tips or experiences about reference services to share with the group?
  129. 129. In-person promotion • Talks to community groups • History walks • Community events • Doors Open • Press/radio/local TV
  130. 130. Make connections • Cultivate good relationships with – PR department of parent body • be prompt in responding to image requests – Local media people • who are generally hungry for content – Local educational institutions • good source of volunteers
  131. 131. Outreach by pen • Newsletters • Blog posts • Posters/exhibits/displays • Brochures
  132. 132. Visual identity • Branding matters • Get a logo and use it everywhere
  133. 133. Outreach by pixel • Some sort of internet presence is essential • Keep it up to date • Use free services if you have no budget – – –
  134. 134. Social media • Twitter and Facebook are great tools for connecting with users and fellow professionals
  135. 135. Make it easy… • …for people to find and use your materials • Digitize as much as possible • …share images online with permissive licences when they are out of copyright
  136. 136. Deseronto Archives: over 2,000 images on Flickr
  137. 137. • Encourages use in exhibitions at other institutions and in published materials
  138. 138. Last thoughts on outreach • Be bold • Be generous • Try not to say ‘no’
  139. 139. That’s it! CABHC: DA 2015.20 Album 1 (10) “R.F.C. Sports Day at Camp Rathbun”
  140. 140. Discussion: any final observations/questions?