All prepped and ready to go.

This word is a mixed blessing. Typically, it comes with campus-wide initiatives to create new and better spaces for everyone. However, as the archivist, you know that you will have much more packing to do than anyone else on campus. If the library is moving, a contract will be worked out with a vendor who is skilled in moving libraries–thus the librarians do not have to pack up and physically move any of the books on the shelves. While you, as an archivist, probably won’t be physically moving the boxes, you do have to prep them for the move, which can be quite daunting, depending on how much you have.

There is a great deal of literature which deals with how to ensure a good moving experience. In a nutshell, you need to have:

  1. A detailed shelf inventory of each box/container matched to the old space. This will help you track which box is going on which pallet or cart. For example, you can note that Boxes 1-30 are on Cart #1 during the move, so that when you get to the new space, you can verify that all boxes are indeed there.
  2. Map out the new space so that you know ahead of time where the records will go. This will save you many headaches when the movers are placing the boxes on the new shelves.
  3. If you are moving into a temporary space and then into the new space, you will repeat 1 and 2.
  4. If you think it will take only two months to get prepped for the move, it will actually take four. Double any estimate you might have to give yourself enough time to prep for the move and to be able to do your day-to-day work at the same time (if you are doing the prep work yourself, that is).

A good article on the basics is available from the Society of American Archivists’ professional journal: Mary Frances. “Moving an Archives.” American Archivist 53. Summer (1990): 420-31.

We are packing to move and will be in a temporary space for a year. Of course, the temporary space is much smaller than our current space, so we have been making sure that we will be able to fit. In my case, I am having to temporarily store some of the collections off-site at a local records management facility that is secure and climate-controlled. It feels strangely like I am sending my children to camp–you hope that everything goes well, and are a bit worried that something will happen. I did take a lot of photographs this morning of the prepped shelves, as these boxes will leave this week. The rest of the boxes which will be moved to the temporary space are scheduled to be picked up within a few weeks. In the not-to-distant future, this space will be completely demolished and gone, so of course I have to take pictures for posterity, right?


Some of the audiovisual material traveling with me.

The bulk of materials that I am keeping with me are the formats that I have not had much time in the past year to do much with–the photographs, slides, negatives, scrapbooks, and audiovisual materials. I am also keeping a full run of the student newspapers with me, as those have not yet been digitized, and they have been consistently used throughout the year. The yearbooks (1900-2011) were scanned during the summer of 2012, so all of the physical books are going off campus–we can use the digital copies for any reference questions. I am planning on scanning as many of the photographs as I can, and to go through the countless boxes of unprocessed ones so that we will have a better idea of what we have.  I would love to have more of a digital repository to go with our brand new space when we open back up.

For reference books, if you are planning a move or renovating a space, you have to learn the name of Tom Wilsted. He has written the following books: Planning New and Remodeled Archival Facilities (2007) and Archival and Special Collections Facilities: Guidelines for Archivists, Librarians, Architects, and Engineers (2009). Both are available through the Society of American Archivists’ Bookstore. The second book was co-edited by Michele Pacifico.

Of course, with any books, you realize that after a bit, some of the information might become dated. So you can speak with your local archivists at larger institutions, reach out to your regional archives association, or take a look at the Image Permanence Institute’s 2013 webinar series. IPI’s NEH-funded Sustainable Preservation Practices for Managing Storage Environments—Series II includes nine webinars which provides information on a variety of topics from recent preservation research to tips for dealing with broad environmental challenges such as summer heat and humidity and winter dryness. These webinars are offered free-of-charge.

The upside is I get to wear jeans to work this week.


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