Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Note to Those Concerned

The archivist has left the building :).

Shortly after our last post, the archivist at SPSU went on to persue her career in corporate archives. Since then, she's been enjoying the archival pleasures of digital asset management, business records, and referring to herself in the first person.

Those wishing to contact the SPSU Archives concerning collection issues are encouraged to do so by calling the Lawrence V. Johnson library at 678-915-7444. Brenton Stewart, the Special Collections Cataloger, will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Those wishing to contact the former archivist directly may ask Brenton for our new contact information. We'll be happy to hand over the blog reigns to the new archivist when they arrive.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Levels of Processing

Carefully separating plats printed on degrading plastic so that they may be counted and interleaved. To see a larger image, click here.

Like many archives, the SPSU collection practices different levels of archival processing for different types of material. These levels are: box level, folder level, and item level. These levels are standard to many different institutions.

Box level processing is used for collections that are expected to be used very rarely. Most recently, we've used box level description on student survey projects from the 1960's and 1970's. You can see a picture of this here. Box level description requires minimal work; the records are put in order as best as possible, and stored in clearly labeled records cartons. One catalog record is made, and a very short description of the collection is logged in lieu of a finding aid. These are items that are only handled in bulk.

Folder level processing is used for collections that are expected to be requested by archives users, but do not have major preservation needs. Documents are housed in acid-free buffered folders, and arranged in alpha and date order in manuscript boxes. You can see a picture of folder level processing here. Series are created if appropriate. Any items known to be big preservation worries - like photographs or news clippings - are removed if found. A finding aid is then created for the collection. For the sake of expediency, the archivist makes a point of trying to only touch the folders of content, and not the items within.

Item level processing is only appropriate for our collection when preservation or format problems are present. The picture at the top of this post shows a collection that, for preservation reasons, must have every item handled. The items are given preservation treatment (in this case, interleaving).

When talking about how a group of records in the SPSU archives will be handled and accessed by patrons, it's important to differentiate between levels of processing and description. For instance, the student survey projects that were processed with box-level treatment in the archives were once on the shelves in the library, and so item level description exists for these items in the library catalog. The Gregson and Ellis Architectural drawings have been processed on the item level in the archive, but are described at folder level (by building set) in their finding aid.

Friday, September 15, 2006

September Progress Report

A new view of the drawing storage room. To see what this room looked like a year ago, click here.

It's been one year since SPSU Archives and Special Collections started with a full time Archivist. We've accomplished quite a bit in our first year, including the transformation of the drawing storage room into a space for archives users as seen above.

Here is a list of just some of the things the Archives and Special Collections has accomplished in its first year:

  • Surveyed the collections to determine those that were most at risk, and prioritized the work to be done.

  • Stated its mission, surveyed and prioritized the collections at the Library, and formulated written procedures and processes for our most at-risk collections.

  • Rehoused over 1,500 uncataloged maps and plats

  • Created a dozen SPSU wiki pages in order tobetter share our information with the community.

  • Arranged, cataloged, and rehoused almost two thousand architectural drawings.

  • Submitted our first EAD finding aid to the Digital Library of Georgia (currently pending peer review).

  • Launched the Archives and Special Collections website.

  • Submitted a proposal for building Archives and Special Collections space within the library.

  • Committed ourselves to connecting the archives to student learning by involving the collections in student Construction Management and Computer Science projects.

  • In our second year, we'll be mounting larger exhibits, calculating our average number of archives users, building a digital photograph collection, reaching out to alumni and more. Watch this blog and our main page to see us organize and grow.

    Wednesday, August 30, 2006

    Our First External Researchers

    Picture of a researcher using our guest station. For a larger image, click here.

    August has been the month of researchers in the SPSU archives. For the first time, we've had visits and requests from outside the University of Georgia system. Above, Diana Werling from The Jaeger Company uses the visitor station in special collections. We've also had requests from the National Library of Medicine. Both requests were for scanned copies of materials; increasingly, it seems that users wish to receive their information as a digital file, rather than in photocopy form. This benefits the archives as we can index these scanned images for our own use at a later date.

    A draft of our first EAD finding aid has been submitted to the Digital Library of Georgia for proofing (you can see an unfinished rough version of it over here). Once we have pushed our product up to the standards endorsed by the Research Library Group, we'll be able to make information about our unique materials available to scholars everywhere.

    In recent weeks the SPSU blog was also one of the first blogs to be added into the new ArchivesBlogs RSS.