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Climb Every Mountain, Open Every Box SAA12

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Implementation of a condition survey for archival collections at an academic library, presented at Society of American Archivists 2012 Annual Meeting, Session 201

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Climb Every Mountain, Open Every Box SAA12

  1. 1. CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN, OPEN EVERY BOX: CONDITION SURVEYS AND STRATEGIC PRESERVATION PLANNING JENNIFER WAXMAN SENIOR MANAGER FOR PRESERVATION AND ACCESS CENTER FOR JEWISH HISTORY SAA 2012 Annual Meeting Session 201
  2. 2. CONTEXT • Strategic plan mandated streamlining access to unique and specialized material • Creation of Archives Preservation Program in Preservation Department • Creation of Preservation Archivist position (taking place of Preservation Librarian) • Change in focus of conservation lab: 80/20, archives to circulating collection split SO, WWMLR DO?
  3. 3. CONTEXT • Perform risk assessment of repositories • Perform condition survey (or, needs assessment) of collections • Design and implement policy and procedures based on findings
  4. 4. PRECEDENT • Columbia University Mellon survey (2004), PACSCL survey initiative, and CALIPR came before me • Determined approach: processed collections, box- level, condition focused, mostly quantitative, some qualitative • Literature survey easy; very little about condition surveys • Gunselman’s 2007 AA article “Assessing Preservation Needs of Manuscript Collections with a Comprehensive Survey” • NEDCC Preservation 101 condition worksheets • British Library National Preservation Office survey (2006) • Evaluation of tools • Worksheets, spreadsheets, databases
  5. 5. • Box-level, on site processed collections (for this phase) • Gather quantitative data on: • condition of housing at collection, unit and material level • condition of all formats • Gather qualitative data on: • overall condition of housing at collection level • condition of formats per unit • intellectual access METHODOLOGY
  6. 6. Survey tool redesign METHODOLOGY • kept collection, unit and material level data • kept physical condition, housing and intellectual access quality ratings • expanded format tabs and sub- format dropdowns • added lots of checkboxes to identify condition at unit, material level
  7. 7. METHODOLOGY
  8. 8. NYU Survey Tool and Survey Manual available here: http://library.nyu.edu/preservation/archivespreservation METHODOLOGY
  9. 9. • Staffing • Part time students, teams of 2 • Solid training: Gunselman article, Ritzenthaler excerpts, NEDCC leaflets, NFPF Film preservation guide, A/V format introduction and inspection techniques, handling and care training, mold isolation procedures. • Supplies • Laptop, wifi • Pencil/paper, pH pen, tape measure • First step: shelf check IMPLEMENTATION
  10. 10. • 971 collections, 5501 containers, 7 minutes a box • Must review staff work periodically to ensure consistency and effectiveness of tool. • Half way through survey, noticed rating system was fallible: • Overall Housing Condition Rating 3 overused • Had to further refine ratings and require surveyors to record reason for designating a collection Rating 2 or below • Had to backtrack and change all collections from 3 to 2 with new definition in place IMPLEMENTATION
  11. 11. • 42% Rating 3 • housing made of currently accepted standard mats, no failure to support • 58% Rating 2 or below • indicates that enclosures no longer support the items, +/- threaten safety, +/- not made of standard mats 26 3% 535 55% 410 42% Rating 1 Rating 2 Rating 3 Rating 4 n=971 Housing Condition Rating FINDINGS: COLLECTION LEVEL
  12. 12. FINDINGS: UNIT LEVEL 1739 under-stuffed boxes (33%) 1196 folders slumping (22%) 1049 under-stuffed boxes with slumping folders
  13. 13. FINDINGS: UNIT LEVEL Mechanical damage: under/overstuffed, Plasti-clips
  14. 14. Remediation projects • Fix under-stuffing and slumping issues with internal board supports and cylinders (discarded, rolled archival folders) • Train students, educate about long term effects of decisions made during processing OUTCOMES
  15. 15. OUTCOMES Strategic planning • Remediation projects and conservation treatments based on condition ratings and curatorial priority • Training and integration of preservation actions into all phases of archival management (accessioning and processing workflows) • Write preservation-focused grants armed with data
  16. 16. Electronic Media Survey • Inconsistent descriptive practices made it very difficult to locate electronic media in already processed collections • Simplified survey tool: Excel worksheets • Training guides used to identifying media with Wikipedia articles about magnetic, optical and flash media OUTCOMES
  17. 17. THANK YOU jwaxman@cjh.org @jwax55

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