Fall Blog Post 2: Archives

One interesting thing in the readings for this week that connected back to the time I spent in Technical Services is the concept of designing for the user in Archives. Because the breadth of types of objects in the Archives is so broad, it seems extremely pertinent to question how much detail is necessary for each object — ie, how much will be helpful to the researcher versus putting too much time into each single thing and creating a backlog that is not available to the public, therefore defeating the purpose. “More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Archival Processing” argued strongly in favor of doing away with processing items to a minute detail in favor of focusing on efficiency. These principles would have been interesting, but not nearly as relevant to me if I hadn’t been given a chance to dig through and begin to describe a box of items. Because many of the the items in it were folders with dozens of pages, I see how tempting it would be to slow down and note every single page — but also what an incredibly long time that would take. As it was, Tom encouraged me to look for the patterns within and between the folders, to look for not just similarities in dates and recurring subjects but also elements like, could these papers have all come from the same person’s office? Ultimately, it was very valuable to my understanding of the archiving process to have even just a few hours of hands-on experience, especially because the scale of the Archives is so much more focused and smaller than the library as a whole, so it felt like looking into a semi-self contained microcosm of the library.