Tag Archives: preservation

Oh Deer…

23 Jul
This photo is called "Buck Bait" and appears in the Esther Henderson Photo Collection: PC 175-B1-F26-D.  As always, if you would like to use any of the photos seen here on the blog please contact ahsref@azhs.gov for information on image reproduction.

This photo is called “Buck Bait” and appears in the Esther Henderson Photo Collection: PC 175-B1-F26-D. As always, if you would like to use any of the photos seen here on the blog please contact ahsref@azhs.gov for information on image reproduction.

The Arizona Historical Society Library and Archives would like to alert our users that we will be closing early this Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 2:00pm. We are excited to welcome the University of Arizona’s School of Information Resources and Library Science (SIRLS) summer class on Preservation to tour the Library and Archives and talk about issues in preservation with representatives from AHS, the Arizona State Archives and the SIRLS instructor and Preservation Librarian at the University of Utah’s Marriott Library.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. In the meantime, please enjoy this lovely photo of a deer.

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Preservation Week and Preserving your Personal Collections

5 Apr

Many people don’t realize that they have their own collections at home, and they think even less about preserving them for the very long term. If you thought about it, you would probably list your photographs as a collection. But have you ever thought about old calendars you may have written on, trinkets or keepsakes such as movie tickets you kept from your first date with your wife, brochures or pamphlets, diaries from childhood or adulthood, video tapes or DVDs, clothing and textiles, comic books, and letters you’ve written or received? Correctly caring for these items can extend their life far beyond what one might expect. In the same thread, incorrect treatment of these materials can lead to serious deterioration and the eventual destruction of the object. Not everyone is interested in family history, but there are many who have a real passion for it and our failure to preserve these memories and records today can inhibit their research and knowledge about the family in the future.

The last week in April is Preservation Week and libraries and archives around the country will be celebrating by offering a variety of activities from simple handouts to speakers and presentations. Here at the Arizona Historical Society in Tucson we’re going to have a small Preservation Week display up for the entire month of April that will include facts and statistics, a few examples of preservation issues, and some bookmarks you can take home with you. You can contact your local archives and museums to see what kind of programming or resources they’re offering.

Take a look at the American Library Association’s (ALA) Preserving Your Memories page to see what advice they offer on caring for your own collections.

Your kids may already be interested in museums and archives through watching the PBS program History Detectives, (which has launched many an archivist, museum curator, conservator, etc. into their career as of late) but if you and the kids want to get into real preservation of family records there are a lot of good resources out there.  Check out the ALA’s Preservation for Children page which gives ideas for adults on teaching their children good preservation habits. Work on family record preservation together through At Your Library’s Family Projects or let your kids read up and practice on their own through At Your Library’s Preservation Projects for Kids.

If your first language isn’t English and you want good guides in your native tongue, check out the ALA’s list of preservation Resources in Other Languages and start working on your personal collections.

If you’re in the Phoenix area and interested in learning about the care of your own collections you can check out this workshop hosted by our friends at the Arizona State Archives.

There are events going on everywhere, from online to local archives, museums and special collections. Give them a call and ask about any special programming or information about Preservation Week.

Learn more about preserving your home collections through this website!

Adventures in Processing: the Montana Mine

15 Mar
Close-up of some hardware holding together an inventory ledger from the Montana Mine Collection.

Close-up of some hardware holding together an inventory ledger from the Montana Mine Collection.

You may remember from my last post on visiting Ruby Arizona that I am currently working on processing the records from the Eagle-Picher Mining Company’s Montana Mine in Ruby. For those of you out there who don’t have a background in archives, when an archivist says they’re processing a collection, it means that they are working with a collection (of papers or photos, etc.) to make it accessible to the public. This is when archivists create finding aids (guides to each individual collection) that tell users what materials are in the collection, how big it is, its origin, and other information useful to researchers. This is also when archivists try their hardest to make it easier for the researcher (that’s you!) to find the things in the collection that you want. A finding aid is only one way that we do this. We also try to put the collection in an order that makes sense, following the original order maintained by the creator of the collection as much as possible.

Processing also includes putting documents into acid-free boxes and folders. This insures that any decay of acidic materials is slowed. This helps to preserve them for a longer period of time. For photographs and negatives, archivists will place them in protective Mylar sleeves to decrease the chances of smudging or ripping the photographs as they are handled, preventing their deterioration from oils and dirt that travel on people’s hands as well as any wrong moves that might result in compromising the stability of the photo. Archivists also tend to remove all hardware from a collection as they process. When an archivist talks about hardware, they’re referring to anything that is used to hold documents together that is also not preservation-friendly. Staples and metal paper clips rust (a chemical reaction which can have an effect on documents and photos) and can contribute to ripping of documents. Rubber bands are not archival either, as they very easily dry up and crumble away. Any kind of adhesive, be it glue, tape, or duct tape is also not archival and can often damage materials permanently. For instance, a book binding “fixed” with duct tape will never be the same again, and will take some serious chemical work in the hands of an actual conservator to correct the damage even a little. Check out what the National Archives says about fastened documents. In the archives, often this hardware is just removed and the papers are allowed to be free in their folder, but sometimes metal can be replaced by plastic paper clips. 

An example of what rust can do to documents from the Montana Mine Collection. The left document is secured with a paperclip. The right document used to be secured with a paperclip before it was switched to a push pin which is so rusted that you can barely tell it's still there!

An example of what rust can do to documents from the Montana Mine Collection. The left document is secured with a paperclip. The right document used to be secured with a paperclip before it was switched to a push pin which is so rusted that you can barely tell it’s still there!

I have seen some really interesting hardware in my time as an archivist. From push pins used as staples, to metal page fasteners (that I actually don’t know the name of!), to nuts and bolts, I have seen a lot of different, creative ways to attach one piece of paper to another. Check out the Louisiana Binding Service Inc.’s  webpage on “What Goes Wrong with Records” to see actual pictures of damage caused by some of the things I’ve talked about (and more!). One of my favorite examples on that page (briefly) mentions that archivists have learned through time what methods and practices do and do not work. Sometimes, practices that were standards years ago have been proved problematic as times goes on, or have been innovated over the years. As technology advances and science becomes more complex, we have unique opportunities to utilize new knowledge and apply it to our practice to insure even better protection for documents in the future. There is often a lot of research value just in how papers may have been organized by their creator, so archivists are pretty serious about keeping to this original order and maintaining it. Processing consists of these kinds of decisions, and a lot more. These are things archivists determine on a case by case basis. This is also why archivists need special training to do their work. A wrong move can be a gap in history. We have to know what we’re doing and we always have to be looking for a better way to do everything.

When you think about all the choices that archivists have to make every day, it makes a lot of sense that the degree for being an archivist is information resources and library science (names of the degree differ from school to school). Archivists have to take many different approaches to collections and a scientific approach, weighing all the factors, forming hypotheses, etc. definitely makes an appearance. On any given day here at the Arizona Historical Society we are scientists, researchers, customer service representatives, laborers, national and international ambassadors, historians, teachers, anthropologists, statisticians, and many other things! Whew! No wonder we go home so happy and so tired!

 

Close-up of an invoice book for the Montana Mine Collection held together by nuts and bolts. Front of the book.

Close-up of an invoice book for the Montana Mine Collection held together by nuts and bolts. Front of the book.

 

Close-up of the back of the same book from above. Note the difference in paper color. A certain amount of deterioration has already occurred.

Close-up of the back of the same book from above. Note the difference in paper color. A certain amount of deterioration has already occurred.