New in the Archives, August 2019

Notable news:

Veronica has moved on to a great new job in the Lower 48: Farewell, Veronica, safe travels, and we wish you all the best!

Change of hours: Due to several years of budget cuts at the Consortium Library and the probability of more, the library has a hiring freeze. With Veronica’s departure, this takes us from three archivists to two. Starting in September, our open hours will be reduced to Wednesday-Friday, 10 am – 4 pm or by appointment. Please note: any changes to our schedule will be displayed on our main website.

 

Collections newly available:

HMC-1180: Walter Parker papers; circa 1940-2014. 20 GB addition to the collection. Due to a house fire, some of Mr. Parker’s papers had condition issues (smoke smell, charred elements, water damage) when they came to us. It’s very rare that we digitize for preservation, but in this case the damage to the materials was so severe that the cost of preserving the hard copy was out of our scope. Many Consortium Library student workers as well as the archivists here spent time in digitizing the damaged materials and then evaluating the scans for quality control in order to ensure we were preserving the best copy possible.

HMC-1302: William B. Workman papers; 1963-2005. 2.5 cubic foot addition. Research and writing files from a retired UAA archeology professor.

HMC-1331: Thelma P. Langdon papers; circa 1983-2012. 0.2 cubic feet and 1.53 MB. Personal papers of a nurse.

HMC-1332: J. Ray Langdon papers; circa 1944-2015. 1.0 cubic feet and 2.3 GB. Professional papers of an Alaskan psychiatrist.

HMC-1338: James L. Simpson diary; 1917-1928, bulk 1917-1921. Diary of a man who homesteaded at Chickaloon.

HMC-1339: Alaska Light Opera Theatre records; 1986-1989. 0.46 cubic feet. Programs and set designs of a theater company in Anchorage.

HMC-1340: Epsilon Sigma Alpha. Alpha Iota Chapter records; 1960-2019. 5.0 cubic feet. Records of an Anchorage philanthropic sorority.

Does the above processing list look a little light for our productivity compared to other months? Especially compared to July’s enormous list? There’s a reason for that! On top of all the other things we do, like providing assistance to researchers, working with donors, meetings, and the occasional vacation, we received a large digitization order from researchers needing materials from one of our collections. Our page/time count for that order (so far) is 15.394 pages and over 55 hours of scanning time. Most days we’re really grateful for our overhead scanner, but right now we’re especially thankful for it! (We also used it to digitize most of the damaged documents from the Walt Parker papers mentioned above).

Alaska’s Digital Archives:

44 photographs from Juneau resident slides; undated, 1942-1986. HMC-0740

5 photographs, an identification card, and a document from the Bill Lathan papers; 1973-1977. HMC-1055. Also metadata added to 20 images from the Lathan papers that had been uploaded previously.

17 images from McGlashan and Monsen.

22 videos and 1 film from Atwood family papers, also available on the Archives YouTube channel (Atwood Foundation grant).

Outreach and other:

“Learning is Permanent!” An exhibit on curriculum materials developed for elementary and high school students in the early 1990s is now available for viewing in the Consortium Library Great Room. The documents and memorabilia in the exhibit came from the Dave Rose papers. Mr. Rose was the first executive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation.

Gwen recorded a podcast with Dr. Emily Moore, an Art History professor at Colorado State University. Dr. Moore did research in the Archives for her recent book, Proud Raven, Panting Wolf: Carving Alaska’s New Deal Totem Parks.

Proud Raven, Panting Wolf

Arlene and Veronica both attended the Society of American Archivists annual meeting. Arlene attended the preconference workshop and meeting days, Veronica attended the conference education sessions.

And last (but perhaps most fun), with Veronica leaving we decided that instead of waiting to do our annual staff portrait for Halloween, we’d do it a little early this year. We took inspiration from the photo in our holdings that gets–by far–the most duplication requests for any single item we hold. We just updated it a little and made it more reflective of our own Alaskan interests.

The post New in the Archives, August 2019 appeared first on Archives and Special Collections.

Why I want compact shelving

This may sound like a weird topic in the midst of dealing with clean-up after an earthquake, but bear with me here.

There’s a few reasons. We’re nearly at capacity for physical collections, our vault is about 85-90% full. We’ve been doing a lot of rehousing of collections and moving them during the past few years to make as much space as possible, but we’ve been filling in just as much space as we’ve been gaining. And there’s only so much more of the rehousing we can do. Yes, lots of collections are coming in electronic form these days, but we’re still getting plenty of hard copy, too. Converting our collections storage space to compact shelving would take us from our current capacity of about 9100 cubic feet to about 13,000-14,000 cubic feet. As you can see, that’s a pretty large gain in capacity. That’s reason #1.

The first aisle of the Rare Books collection compact shelving

Reason #2 became abundantly clear after this earthquake. We have a compact shelving unit in our Rare Books. When the quake hit, the first row was open. That’s the row closest to the wall. As you can see from this photo, only a very few books hit the floor. (They’re just fine, by the way.)

Even though our standard shelving in the archival collections vault has some basic earthquake bracing, to meet code, the vault does not look like the Rare Books collection. Most of it is fine. But the shelves closest to the wall? They look like this.

The first row of our archives collections vault post-earthquake

The shelving that adjoins the north-south wall of our vault–the same directional orientation as the shelving unit in the Rare Books Room, abutting a wall just like in the Rare Books room–ditched a lot of the boxes that were on the upper shelves. And lots more were left hanging on the edges of shelves.

Not only does compact shelving hold more collections, because of the more robust bracing used with compact shelving units and the cushioning between the hard floor and the shelving, they are far more earthquake proof than standard archival shelving units.

There’s one giant problem though, and it is the cost. Several years ago we had an estimate on costs and it was running about $600,000. Now, with increased price of steel, shipping, and the fact that we’ll have to move and temporarily store more collections to have compact shelving installed in the space, the cost will have gone up. That, I don’t have an answer to.

I’m beyond grateful that none of us were in the vault when this happened. I’m grateful that none of the contents of the boxes that came off the shelves seem to have suffered any damage that cannot be dealt with. I’m grateful that when archival materials are kept in boxes, even if they do fall off of shelves, the contents often stay together and in order. We came off very well from a major earthquake with a close epicenter and honestly, picking up one hundred or so boxes seems like a minor price to pay when we think about what could have happened if building codes would have been more lax. We know we have a lot of clean-up ahead of us! We may not be able to provide access to some of these collections immediately, but we will do our very best to keep you informed of our status and work with you to get you access as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience, and thank you, all of you, who have checked in with us and expressed your well-wishes. We really appreciate it!

The post Why I want compact shelving appeared first on Archives and Special Collections.