Monday, 10 December 2012

Week 26: Easing on Down the Road

In my fourteenth week at the Mayme Clayton Library and Museum, I continued to clean up the Mayme Papers processing room, spoke to a researcher about the LGBTQ collection, and monitored the progress of the duplicate book project.

The winter cleaning project continues in the area that I use to process Dr. Clayton’s personal materials. As I went through boxes over the past three months, I put aside materials that I did not feel belonged in the collection. These materials had piled up in a corner of the processing room and I spent this week sifting through it. I filled three more large garbage bags with broken, damaged or indecipherable materials. I also filled three shelves with materials that could be re-purposed within the museum. I imagine that we can cut old manila folders into call slips for the books that we catalog. The folders were the biggest group of supplies, followed by blank printer paper and envelopes. There are also labels, dividers and binders that we may be able to use in the future. The last group of materials is full of the items that I want to remove from the collection but need approval from my executive director. I have boxed them up and placed them in another area of the museum. There are 18 boxes that fit this description. My work to clear up the processing space could not have come at a better time because we are working with a film crew that wants to shoot in the space within the next couple of weeks. It looks like my entire operation will be moved into the small courtroom before the end of the year. This is a larger space, which will allow me to easily sort materials for the remainder of the project.

Materials recommended for de-accession

Surplus office supplies removed from Mayme's papers

On Friday, we had a researcher drop in to check out the LGBTQ collection. This was problematic because the collection is on deposit and it is not processed at all. Luckily, the donor of the collection, C. Jerome Woods was available to speak to the researcher over the phone. Mr. Woods said that he would come to the museum in a few hours and see what he could do for the researcher. I had done a survey of this collection earlier this year so I was curious to see what kinds of questions that someone would have about the materials. Mr. Woods and the researcher talked for about an hour and when they were ready to go look at the collection, they invited me to join them. This was when I learned that this researcher had been to New York City, Chicago and San Francisco looking at archival collections that dealt with the black LGBTQ experience. He does not have a research background but he has an idea to use a travelling exhibit to establish a connection between all of the repositories that he had visited. He echoed the sentiments from many SAA conference presenters of using social media and art to challenge the notion that archives are stuffy places that don’t have a broad relevance. I admired his enthusiasm but emphasized that it would take a lot of work on his behalf to initiate something like that. I showed him the work that I had done with Mayme’s Papers as an example of the intellectual control that we hope to gain over Mr. Woods’ collection in the next couple of months. He expressed an interest in volunteering to help me process the collection. We exchanged business cards and plan to connect at the first of the year.

The book duplicate project is easing along nicely. There is a part of the project that everyone can get into. For example, Greta is very efficient at working in the spreadsheet, Michael and Irene like to work in the stacks, and Christal can spend the day working at her own pace from the stacks to the computer. One of the products of the project is a surplus of empty banker’s boxes; Carol and I spent two hours on Friday breaking down boxes for more compact storage. We have about 38 boxes left to go through in the book room and another 24 left in the volunteer area. We have filled 19 boxes full of true duplicates. I am hoping to ship them to Better World Books or make them available for our patrons to purchase.   

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