some photos of & narration on the move

Before the transformation:

 

After the transformation:

 

And miscellaneous:

In our previous episode, shipments of new “stuff” were all off schedule, sending my poor soul into a tizzy. In the end, it was all a matter of logistics and good weather (or, more appropriately, bad weather) events.

Two things HAD to happen. The old shelving system HAD to be disassembled (and the contents stored nearby and temporarily), and the bathroom HAD to be “dis-functioned” and “re-purposed.” And both HAD to happen before we could even think about planning a day to install the new mobile shelving system.

So, last week I began the disassembly project. After emptying the shelves along the back wall and stashing the contents wherever there was space nearby, in the hallway, on the work table and in a moved rack behind the work table, and with rubber mallet in hand, I broke down the four back wall shelving racks. Initially I proposed painting the back wall space but the painters had others projects. Meanwhile, I spoke with the boss about removing the commode from the bathroom and capping the piping and he agreed to make the connection/arrangement with the plumber.

With the back wall cleared and the commode fixture removed, I had to take off my “archivist” hat and put on my “janitor” hat. Yeah, they never tell you that in library school either! But it was cool. You do what needs to be done.

Tuesday rain was predicted at 2pm. At 11 am we moved the map chart cabinet into the new storage room and removed the door off the hinges. At about 2:05, the bottom of the clouds opened up. I went back to the maintenance shed and had a tuna sub and chips with Butch and Frank, our town maintenance crew. By 3:00 the rain ended. Butch and Frank gave me the rest of the afternoon. They laid down the tracks and built the racks for the movable shelving system. By knockoff time it was all assembled!

Thursday my goal was to get all the archived boxes off the temporary racks and into the new shelves. I had a small cart that enabled me to move twelve boxes at a time. So it took multiple trips. Luckily I had created a move plan that identified where each section of the boxes would go in the new shelves. I got about 90% of it done by lunch time and dashed to the nearby Korean diner for the Thursday special, chicken teriyaki with rice and salad. When we arrived with our take out orders the Mayor was having an impromptu meeting at our normal staff lunch table, but she offered to re-locate.

At 1:45 my summer high school volunteers arrived. I had them finish half the remaining 10% of the move, which took them all of 45 minutes. Then I set them up inserting maps and architectural drawings into the new cabinet in the new storage room and labeling the contents of each of fourteen drawers. I finished the remaining 5%, then set upon the task of arranging the contents on the shelves by accession number, frequency of use, and function (all three. This is the big difference between librarian-thinking and archives-thinking. So many more degrees of freedom!).

It was a full day. I was thrilled when 4pm finally arrived!

 

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short entry – archives blues

The 15-drawer metal map and poster cabinet arrived last week, but it doesn’t quite fit the space where it was intended (always allow a 3 to 6 inch slack for tight fits, I have learned). The sliding storage unit also arrived last week, two weeks ahead of schedule, and of course, we need to move items into the 15 drawer cabinet to make room for the sliding storage unit, which is why the two week timing gap was almost essential. Note, almost.

We will work it out. I’ve seen bigger challenges in shipyards and refit facilities. Meanwhile, the show goes on. Shelf contents (mostly legal and letter-sized Hollinger boxes) must be removed and stored, old racks removed and disassembled, new racks installed on a mobile track, and Hollinger boxes reinstalled on new shelving. You don’t learn any of this in LIS graduate programs.

Bright news. Made contact with Kengar community residents. Excitement about the proposed project to preserve that history. Also passed on info about a contracting opportunity at Archives of American Art. I might have submitted a bid, but I need to keep days clear in the fall for my August Wilson study group and for ModPo Fall Seminar in addition to my work here.

Next week, photos. I promise.

Settling into a new archives job – 6/30/2018

It’s been a while since the last entry. Three weeks of basically closing out the fiscal year and shopping for archives stuff! It has been a fun, though tedious and tiresome four and five-day work week. Not exactly what I signed up for, but there are those times when a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. Next week I return to two days a week. More about that later.

Physical improvements.

We replaced the ugly and uncomfortable metal folding chairs and the wooden ones with better chairs for our researchers and volunteers. We replaced old folding leg tables with nice ones from IKEA. We replaced my falling apart desk with a nice IKEA corner unit. Two new laptops, new Hollinger boxes, at least two years worth, acid-free copy paper in all the right sizes, acid- free folders to last for years, digital recording equipment for oral history interviewing, toner for the printer for at least a year, a new metal 15-drawer cabinet for maps and posters, and last but not least, a sliding storage unit for our collection! I tweeted it a couple of weeks ago here! (more photos to follow next week)

I need this X5 Storage Solutions Steel Sliding Storage System from Gaylord for my archives! pic.twitter.com/M6rHj4fode

— Garrett Park MD Archives (@garrettparkarch) June 15, 2018

All this new stuff sets several things in motion and begins the strategic planning we really need to do.

Networking.

Meanwhile, during the same period I drafted a new collection policy and made contact with Maryland records management folks about revising our retention schedules. I also met some cool archivists at a MARAC Virginia and Maryland Caucus get together in Leesburg, and more cool archivists at a Maryland Historical Trust – Preservation Maryland meeting in Hyattsville. Oh yeah, and I went to my first Town Council meeting (no one could have prepared me for the contentiousness I witnessed there) and I hosted a meeting of the Archives Advisory Committee in the archives (that was not well attended, though we convinced ourselves we had a quorum and I missed the final meeting of an oral history workshop to attend and host it).

And I completed a rudimentary inventory of all our collections, primarily to identify junk and stuff that need to go somewhere to storage. But now I know what we have. Along the way, I peeped into most of the boxes, especially the oblong and odd-shaped boxes, weeding more junk and artifacts that need a different type of home. And I spent a couple of days just cleaning and sweeping, almost like a Navy field day!

Upcoming projects.

  • The new map and poster case needs to be assembled and installed. That won’t be able to happen until after the 4th of July because I’ll need the maintenance guys to help me and they are tied up until after the 4th. Hopefully we can get that done week after next.
  • The new sliding storage unit arrives July 18. In anticipation of its arrival, the old shelving needs to be removed and their contents organized in a way to make it ready to go into the new storage system, Also, before the new storage system arrives, I’d like to paint out the space against the back wall that it will fill, since painting there will be more difficult once the new system is installed. (This is the stuff an archivist does in between archiving tasks!)
  • I’ll need to figure out where we can put the seven shelves that will be replaced by the new storage unit. Can we sell them? Can we get permission to store them somewhere to hold all the artifacts and junk previously mentioned? The second is the best option.
  • I did a preliminary inventory of the oral history collection. The majority are transcribed and catalogued, but many are still on cassette tapes that were never converted to digital audio files, and a few were converted to digital files but never transcribed. The best option is going to be to get volunteers involved in all the phases of the oral history production but close supervision will be required.

BHAG (Big, hairy, audacious goals).

  • It may have to happen on my off days, but I am fascinated by the prospect of producing oral histories from a neighboring community, Kengar. Kengar is a small all black community (well, increasingly less all black as gentrification of a minor kind occurs) wedged between Garrett Park and Kensington. How did we never include them in our archiving? How did Kensington never include them? A clear case of segregation in the archives. Nothing insurmountable, of course, it happened throughout the south and the mid-Atlantic states during America’s experience with apartheid. It may even present some grants funding opportunities. I’ll get it started on my own dime, visiting the community’s two churches, seeing if there is interest among the community for such a project.
  • On that subject, but not related to Garrett Park at all, I’ve been corresponding with a history professor who specializes in the history of religious movements, especially Muslim groups in the U.S. Folks from my youth know of my teenage interest (more like fascination) in historical figures Marcus Garvey, Noble Drew Ali, Elijah Muhammad, and that whole era. Turns out the Nation of Islam and its members are one of the few groups that has never been “radicalized” in the present era of radicalization of Islamic groups. Why is that? And does this inquiry lend itself to some oral history opportunities?
  • Boxes are in need of replacement, folders need to be converted to acid-free ones, and related or similar collections may require consolidation and re-cataloging.
  • By the end of the calendar year, I hope to have completed a draft plan to begin converting sub-collections from PastPerfect to ArchivesSpace. By the end of FY 2019, I’d like to be well on the way to completing the conversion. PastPerfect has lots of issues. Will go into more details in subsequent postings, but suffice it to say here that PastPerfect was not originally intended for archives, and the back fit was awkward at best.
  • There are a ton of office records in the attic, going back at least 14 years. But God is it hot up there! We may need to postpone until the weather is cooler, but we need to go through those files in place, pull out what’s archivable, pull out what’s required to retain by law and the retention schedule, and toss the rest.

I think I will stop here.

Postscript. WooHoo! A new business card!

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