So much to do, so little time

Sara and Margaret are now the primary interns on the Gorriaz Collection Project. They are each here one day a week, separately, which can sometimes feel productive, at other times, not as productive. Sara has been focusing on the organization of the physical collection and completing the finding aid container list. There are several pieces of the collection (negatives, prints, documents) that have no home and have not really been organized previously and she is working on integrating them into the collection. Margaret has been focusing on the digital photos that are already part of the museum’s digital collection but are not integrated into the museum’s main cataloging system. It sounds simple–just put the photos in the catalog, right? But the photos and metadata are stored in two separate places and under two different file types, neither of which is in the main cataloging system. The metadata is the part that is the trickiest because it has to be in a very specific format to be able to import into the cataloging system. And we’re talking about over 1,000 photos. So, it’s been very laborious–but fun!–to work through and get it just right so that it will be ready to upload. We’re moving along and are looking forward to the day when it all comes together in a nice clean package.

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We’re back!

After a brief hiatus, we are excited about resuming the Gorraiz Collection project! We still have a lot of rehousing and archival work to do including finishing the finding aid and container list, additional preservation steps with the photos, labeling of boxes, and general organization of the collection. We are also working hard at getting the digital portion of the project straightened out so that further digital preservation steps can be taken. We are looking forward to the next few months of our internship!

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Nearing the end…

Sorry that we’ve been a little MIA on our blog lately. We only have a couple of weeks until the summer part of the Gorraiz project is completed. Currently, Margaret, Sara, and Rachel are working on the Gorraiz project. It was bittersweet to see Shawna take a step back from the project. We are very happy for her new job but miss her input and expertise here at the museum.

We are still very busy with the collection, mainly focusing on rehousing, organizing, and putting the finding aid together. We have been rehousing prints into archival boxes. It already looks and feels much more organized than when we found it. We are also starting on part of the preservation process of resleeving negatives. There are many archival negative sleeves with multiple negatives in them. We need to separate the negatives out one by one into separate sleeves. This preservation step will continue into the future part of the project beyond this summer.

We are typing up the container list of the prints. The container list will be included in the finding aid. We hope to have the finding aid available to the public once this is complete.

Again, this has been an amazing learning experience for all of us. It has been a joy to us to be able to gain the knowledge and practical skills during this internship.

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Swimming out of the basement

Last week, Sara, Shawna and I battled floodwaters that were threatening the basement where the archives are currently stored. We hauled many buckets of water out of the stairwell and finally cleared the drain to help ease the flooding so that the water would not seep under the basement door. They certainly did not train us for this in Archives 101!

After we dried off as best as we could, we continued with working with the photographs, specifically rehousing negatives that are currently stored along with prints. This is part of the preservation process that will continue well into the fall and beyond.

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And the Beat Goes On…

The past few weeks have been very busy for us. We are in the process of writing our project report that describes what we have found and what we feel are the best plans for the Gorraiz Collection. This report will be part of the museum’s institutional archives so we are working through it very carefully and meticulously. We feel like we have a good handle on what is actually there in terms of the collection inventory. Our next steps include having an organizational plan and working towards having the collection be more accessible to the museum staff and to the public. The physical collection (negatives, prints, etc) needs to be intellectually organized in a way that is easy to follow. A little over 1,000 of the photos are already digitized but not contained within the museum’s cataloging program called PastPerfect. We hope to have those uploaded into PastPerfect by the end of the summer.

This has been such a fun and exciting project for us. Being that we are all fairly new into the field, it has given us such great learning opportunities and we are looking forward to seeing the end result of our work one day!

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Reference Library Photos

This gallery contains 15 photos.

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First Look at the Reference Library/ Special Collection


It’s actually been a few weeks since I first began my work with the Reference Library Collection, but it has been very interesting and challenging. When I first walked into the Historical Society I was impressed at how well they had done with as few resources as they had available, and with limited professional input. There were a few times I cringed, however for the most part the archival collections are in good, usable condition and will be available for many years to come.

The Reference Library Collection is in a unique situation, particularly when compared to my past experiences. The Museum Director Berlin brought me in to help inventory and catalog the collection, and to help her understand the relationship the collection should have with Casa Grande Valley Historical Society in terms of availability, use, and storage. Berlin would like to take the collection and make it available to the public for research and reference.

From an initial standpoint the storage and organization are not ideal. The collection is divides between two locations: two bookshelves directly across from the Museum Director’s office and a closet is in a corner of the upper floor, tucked away from sight.

The Reference Library Collection is a mixture of periodicals and books of varying subject matter, and are either placed in specific order on bookshelves or stored in boxes on the same shelves. The books that have a call number on the bookshelves (both in the Director’s Office and the closet) are organized in what appears to be a combination of the Dewey Decimal system and a notation of the first three letters of the authors’/ editors’ last name. These books are cataloged in a card catalog, and a sample of the collection have been entered into Past Perfect.

My initial thoughts on the collection are:

– The current location of this collection does not facilitate use.

– The combination of Dewey/ bookstore call number system is confusing, as some of the books were published without a specified author, editor, compiler, or publisher.

– The card catalog is confusing- divided by collection, rather than subject, author, and title (which is all thrown in together). Also the amount of cards in the card catalog makes me wonder if every book is cataloged.

– The books entered into Past Perfect do not indicate the assigned call number and the location label is using a currently in speculation, so there is no way to verify which books in the collection have been entered into PP without looking for each individual item by title, which is difficult considering the call number system.

– There is little known about how the collection was acquired. The accession records may need to be gone through to find the dates and sources of items.

After discussing the hopes/plans for the collection and reviewing the situation Berlin and I have determined that rather than creating a library which will be open for public use, this collection would benefit from being treated like a special collection due to condition and subject. This collection will need to be inventoried, possibly weeded and reorganized in a more user-friendly way, and cataloged in Past Perfect. A collection plan for the reference library/ special collection will be developed and used as a part of a collection plan for the entire museum.

My current tasks:

– Inventory the collection in a spreadsheet to understand what is contained in the collection, as well as if each item has been cataloged and where (card, PP?)

– Record and photograph the initial state of the collection, continuing to record progress throughout the project

– Contact other libraries, museums, and historical societies in order to gain a better understanding of how to handle this collection

– Work with the Museum Director to develop and implement a collection plan

Onward and Upward!


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