Sunday, 2 December 2012

Week 25: Winter Cleaning



In my thirteenth week at the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum I re-organized the Mayme processing room, presented to an auction house representative, and served as a greeter for a HistoryMakers interview.

On Saturday, I thought it was time to reassess the use of space in my Mayme processing room. The amount of boxes full of processed materials was swelling, and I did not have enough space for them on the desk tops. I knew that would need to access every box as I might come across an item that fit into them, so I decided to place every processed box on the floor and just bring a couple to the desk as I needed them. I also needed to have a more clear system of sorting so that anyone would know where to pull from when they were ready to file items away. I brought in a large garbage bag and tossed all of the old folders, empty folder boxes, and rusty office supplies that I had come across. The items that I had identified to be moved to other parts of the museum, I finally moved them to their new location. I also vacuumed the floor and moved the superfluous chairs out of the room. Next week, I will probably sort out my de-accession mound. The materials are either too damaged, duplicates or office supplies that could be recycled into our day to day usage. Overall, I feel that I am at a halfway mark in the processing of this collection and I wanted to clearly see what I am working with. As this year winds down, I will have a clear mind and workspace as I tackle the remainder of the project.

The woman, who came into the museum last month to pay for a traffic ticket, thinking that we were still operating as a court house, returned this week. The first time we met Sandra, Larry told her about the museum and she said that she worked for an auction house that may be interested in our rare books and manuscripts. This week Sandra brought the director of Botham’s Auction House, Dr. Williamson, and they looked through our materials. I spoke with them about our process of not calling a book a duplicate until we had two identical copies on the shelf. I shared how we had been working on this project for weeks and saw the auction house as a means of de-accession rather than a lucrative revenue stream. She told me more about the business of rare book sales. I learned that the value of books has remained solid throughout the turbulent economy. The value of many books lies in the dust jacket that they are enclosed in. At the turn of the century, many librarians assumed that the jacket was just packaging and tossed them, leading to a scarcity of the original jackets in the world. They are very valuable today, more than the book in some cases.  She examined the titles and made some notes on the 7 boxes full of books that we had compiled.  She said that she would do a preliminary analysis and be in touch with the next steps.

MCLM lent its courthouse to the HistoryMakers for the taping of a new interview. Matthew Hickey was the videographer and Larry Crowe was the interviewer. I told them how they felt like celebrities to me because I had come across their names so many times as I filled out evaluation summaries. They are a very likeable team, and it was fascinating to know that they were the duo responsible for Dr. Clayton’s HistoryMaker interview back in 2004. They were impressed by how far the collection had come since they had seen it at the house in the West Adams neighborhood. This week, they were interviewing Dr. Patricia Bath, a pioneering ophthalmologist. I stayed at the museum until 7:30 to give them enough time to set up and conduct the life arc interview. Dr. Bath was so regal in her mannerisms; it was an honor to meet her. Matthew and Larry really enjoyed working in the museum; they said it was quiet and dark enough to optimize the quality of the production. I appreciate how their presence increases the exposure of MCLM and I would be happy to host them again. 

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