Digging In

Last Friday I had the opportunity to speak at a workshop on creating successful volunteer programs in archives. My portion of the program covered my personal perspective on why I am a volunteer (want of experience in the field). I am not quite sure if I got the point across however through all the hand wringing I think I made some point possibly that I am prone to hand wringing. I also met with one of the workshop presenters that I asked to be on a possible panel for the Utah Library Association annual meeting next year.

At the workshop I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the hosts Utah State Historical Records Advisory Board (USHRAB) were advertising the availability of some mini-grants that can be used for things such as buying items to house archival collections. This was like the clouds parting and the heavens singing. My first thought was, “Yippee! I can get a couple of our small collections put into folders and boxed so that I can begin working on creating finding aids.” My second was, “Do we have a DUNS number?” Answer: Yes!

So on Monday with the beginnings of a head cold (lots of sniffing ensued) I thought I would tackle the newspaper clipping collection.  The collection includes several three ring binders and three or four scrapbooks. The binders and one scrapbook are dedicated to newspaper clippings many of which were glued in and are now falling out. Included with the clippings were full copies of a local newspaper which I believe with my limited searching is now defunct and old city newsletters.

I knew that there were city newsletters previously and made the decision that I would create a separate collection out of those. Going through the collection on Monday I also decided to pull out the newspapers and create another collection of these items as well. I found to my surprise going through the other scrapbooks that one was dedicated to local pageants and another was full of city council minutes from 1984 to 1985. One scrapbook was completely empty and I found a folder with older clippings and correspondence relating to the city’s history.

The collection has gone quickly from newspaper clippings to a whole Highland City collection with various series levels. I immediately found myself at a loss as how to organize the collection and went to the Lone Arrangers Roundtable Listserv for advice. My original idea was to just put the clipping collection into protective sleeves and put the items into new archival binders. That would not be feasible with the clippings coming loose and various oversized items that would not lend themselves to that particular rehousing idea.

With some suggestions from the Listserv I think that I will initially put the majority of the items into folders and boxes. The only scrapbook format I might keep would be the one about the local pageant. At a later date I might work on reformatting the clippings to promote access. This may take the form of photocopying the articles and creating archival quality binders that will be available in the Special Collections reference area.

I noticed that several archivists on the Listserv asked about the archival nature of the clipping collection. For an answer to this query I would like to note that this collection was created by a former City Recorder which was passed on recently to the library from the current City Recorder’s Office. I believe that anything the City Recorder collected is pertinent to the history of Highland and should be kept in our archive. This collection will form the foundation of goal of creating a “Center of History” in Highland and give strength and meaning to the library’s Special Collections and Manuscript Archive.

My hope is to expand the city collection by adding documents including a history booklet produced by the city and other documents that will periodically pass out of our current reference section.  The original collection items will continue to be designated as part of the City Recorder Office’s donation.

So this has ended up being a little more involved than I originally expected and as an archivist would I expect anything different? Answer: No. On Monday I will begin reviewing the costs for purchasing rehousing items and see how much money I will need for this particular project. And finding some matching money somewhere in our very squeezed and limited budget. Meanwhile I will use my new contacts to see if I can get a sample of a grant-funded request and work up an application. (And maybe hit up another workshop presenter for another panel.)

I am hoping that I can get the mini-grant so I can really make a go of our Special Collections and Manuscript Archive (I have heard funded grants look good on your resume too). As an update I am currently reviewing copyrights by reading Copyrights & Cultural Institutions by Hirtle, Hudson, and Kenyon which seems to be in line with the policies I have borrowed in creating the Highland City Library Special Collections and Manuscript Archive Policies. Speaking of policies the Library Board will receive a copy this Wednesday and will review/approve them at the January meeting.

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