by Jennifer Crutchfield, Head Editor, INALJ Connecticut
My Experience as an Archivist: Part 1
In my previous place of employment, I noticed a small room in the front of the library labeled “Archives Room”. Having a specialization in archives management, this sparked my interest and I asked if I could spend an hour or two of my time processing the materials within the archives. Until this time the archives had been severely neglected and the 50th anniversary was fast approaching. There was no processing of materials taking place, so there was a lot of work to be done.
I was very excited to have this new role as a “lone arranger” and I was able to process a good amount of the existing collection. I was not able to give the archives all the attention it needed, but this was a step towards the right direction.
Fast forward about 10 months and I have been asked to return work as the archivist a few hours a week. I am thrilled with to be back in the archives that I helped create and develop, but there was a major hurdle that had presented itself while I was gone. There was a massive leak in the Archives! Many boxes needed to be moved so that the leak could be fixed, but thankfully nothing has been lost. Needless to say, it has been a challenge to collect all misplaced boxes and I still have a few missing.
I have been reorganizing the archives as well. When I was working there only an hour or two a week, I didn’t have the luxury of time to put organize the way I would have liked to. My main goal in the past was to get as much processed as I could so that we knew what was in the archive. Now I am organizing all the boxes that I have processed through the years.
There is definitely a lack of space. I feel like every week new items come into the archives and the pressure of having a limited amount of space can be overwhelming at times. For example, while I was not working in the archives there were about 6 boxes of Athletics department records that were donated. My only fear is that my space will run out and I will not know where to house all these materials. I am fortunate in that there is some available space in the neighboring storage room that I can use to house larger items.
My plan of action in this first stage of developing an efficient archives is to find and reorganize all misplaced boxes and creating a less complex finding aid. Also, there is a large collection of newspaper clippings that needs to be weeded of any items insignificant to the college. I would also like to process new items. I know surprises will present themselves and I will have to change my plan.
Is anyone else in a similar situation? I would love to read what others in similar situations have to say. I will continue my updates in a later posts and share with you what happens through the lifespan of this project.