23:2 (2008:06) Committee Annual Report: Archives

May 20, 2008 at 12:25 pm | Posted in Archivist, Committee Annual Reports | Leave a comment

Sheryl Williams, Archivist

When I worked on NASIG’s Twentieth Anniversary History a few short years ago, we needed to contact staff at the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign (UIU-C), which was to be done through the NASIG Archivist. It was confusing for all of us NASIG-ers, as we weren’t sure how to request materials or to whom those requests should be sent. Since moving into the archivist position, I realized there was even more confusion about procedures, access, and accountability. The archives department has a small staff and is currently short-handed; this is one reason for the delay in responsiveness to inquiries. I came to believe that a trip to UIU-C would be beneficial in several ways, not only to locate some information I had needed during the writing of the Anniversary history and to clarify listings of our holdings, but also to develop a relationship one-on-one with UIU-C staff.

What I found at UIU-C was staff anxious to be helpful. Our archives are considered small at only 5.3 cubic feet, and Mary Miller carted the boxes from storage to the workroom. Mary clarified their treatment of the archives when they are first received, which is minimal, making sure there are no miscellaneous scraps of paper in the files. As I went through the files, I noticed that correspondence was in order by date. Filing either by date, in chronological order, or by letter with responses, then in chronological order is appropriate. My preference is to file by the latter method. Mary explained that the order of papers is retained as sent, and no annotations added to the lists of content that we submit.

All papers should be sent in the order which will be most helpful to researchers.

Careful consideration should be given as to what is being sent to UIU-C, rather than automatically forwarding all papers. One request I received this past year was for a copy of an agreement between NASIG and the UKSG. Apparently no copy of the agreement was retained here. UIU-C staff did not find a copy in the unprocessed materials. Additionally, I asked for a copy of the original agreement between NASIG and UIU-C; we need a copy in the archivist’s file.

Print copies of agreements such as the above should be retained, either by the archivist or another designated individual. An option would be to retain electronic copies, on the non-public side of NASIGWeb.

There is a wealth of information in the archives, and reading through the correspondence of John Riddick as he worked to establish NASIG in the mid-80s took my breath away. Nothing is ever without conflict. There are a few letters which should be in confidential, restricted-access envelopes. We could ask that an entire file be restricted, but then no one but the current board members (or specified designees) would have access to the whole file. An individual envelope would be preferred. I had marked some of the correspondence (at different places in the same file, because of the date-order submission mentioned above) to be restricted; Mary will put it all in an envelope and mark it as such. There should be a brief statement of the contents of the envelope on the front, such as “John Jones letter of September 19, 1984, on the formation of NASIG, and John Riddick’s reply of October 4, 1984.” (Names and dates in this example are fictional). This statement would also be included on NASIGWeb for the file, and noted as RESTRICTED USE.

Specific sensitive material, rather than a complete file, should be placed in an envelope, with restricted access.

Material requests are made to the archivist, who then forwards the request to UIU-C. The current public listing of files makes it difficult to know what file a document is in, which makes it harder for UIU-C staff to locate a document. Another of my goals was to identify each item in each folder, and then to add this extended information to the lists on NASIGWeb. I had time to concentrate on only the committee files and two years of actual correspondence, which leaves much more to be done. Perhaps another time.

The archivist should briefly list each item in a folder, and include it in the folder when sent to UIU-C. The listing should also appear in the archives listing on NASIGWeb.

During the past year, one request for materials was made to UIU-C. Staff photocopied the materials, and sent it to me, and I forwarded it on. While looking through the archives, I noted that the originals had not been refiled. Mary Miller apologized, saying they had “a cartful” of materials to be refiled, and she would retrieve them if I needed to see them. I am concerned about the material not being refiled, as this presents an opportunity for being lost.

UIU-C staff should be encouraged to refile original materials as quickly as possible.

I asked if UIU-C would send me an annual statement of charges, with opening/ending balances. I explained that this information is necessary when preparing my budget, and without a statement from them, I have no way of know what the charges for photocopying or mailing are. Mary said they do not normally charge an association for the copying of their own materials, unless it is a large order. While UIU-C does not regularly prepare a statement, they would make an allowance for us. There may be expenses in the processing of 2007 materials sent, particularly for staff time; they will be reflected on the next statement.

The archivist should request in April of each year a statement of expenses from UIU-C.

I found it no small annoyance that the material submitted last summer by the former archivist has not yet been processed by UIU-C staff. I have a copy of the original agreement between NASIG and UIU-C; there is no mention of materials being processed in a timely manner. I have been assured that the 2007 material “will be processed by the end of this summer.” I am not proposing that the archives be moved; I am trying to improve the process.

The archivist should request an approximate date of completion of processing, when materials are sent.

If this trip is repeated by future archivists or officers, it should be noted that the building the archives are in is located about 1.5 miles from the center of the campus. There is excellent bus service to this location. However, the building closes from 12-1:00 daily, and there are no food places close by. Just fair warning.

Other activity this past year involved photographing the conference realia I received from the previous archivist. Realia is not retained in the archives, but rather photographs of the items. Photographs will be sent to UIU-C, where they will be placed in the appropriate conference folder. Photographs will also be submitted to NASIGWeb’s non-public side. One of the items of realia is an oil painting done by a student grant winner at the Milwaukee conference. I have photographed the painting, and will return the painting to the artist, with our thanks and gratitude for her expression.

A few other items remain from the assortment of materials I received. There are some disks which may be proceedings or other conference materials. I need to install the program to read the disks; here’s a great example of what happens with old technology.

Finally, a more accurate of funds expended is being kept, particularly in the postage (shipping) budget line. The shipping of materials to UIU-C has been credited to NASIG’s FedEx account, and not recorded separately. This makes it difficult to estimate this expense.

An archivist’s manual is under development to capture all procedures.

Attached: Archivist’s Budget, 2008 and UIU-C NASIG Budget, 2008

NASIG Archivist
Budget Report

*Does not include cost of shipping materials to UIU-C, charged to NASIG’s FedEx account.

UIU-C NASIG budget


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