Boxing Complete!

I was offered a job today. One of the bus drivers who guides people through the historic homes tour that stops at the museum asked me why he hadn’t seen me for a while. We chatted for a while about how the tourism industry is back on the rise and about his soon-to-be business. He’s got big plans. He told me I should come back and help manage his Grand Turk business. What a sweet compliment. It’s nice to know that I might have something to fall back on. I’m feeling pretty good about the current plan though, I must say.

The archive collections are all in boxes.

In series.

In labeled folders.

I cannot express how awesome that is. Progress is a beautiful thing.

The next step is to make the box labels and create the database records. Since this is a survey project with the aim of making the records accessible, I’m going to accession the series and create a folder/box list of the contents. I’m using the adult/child relationship of the database to create my finding aid. First, accession the collection: Government Records. Add (as accessioned items) to that collection the series: Commissioner’s Office, Colonial Secretary, Legislative Council, etc. In the “item level” accession record will be a list of the contents of the series. Not quite item level description, but close enough to the ground to get the jist of this spread out collection. The government records cover the years from 1979 – 1992, but only contain 30 linear feet of material. I’ll be relying mostly on key word search ability, but hope to go back and put in some controlled vocabulary.

It’s not the ideal way to use a museum database, but it will keep the records flexible. Some of the items are listed as 5 year loans and some are slated to go to the National Archives, should one ever be created. Accessioning series instead of items will keep the contents flexible – instead of deleting 40 records, the contents of the series can be simply edited – cut and paste the removed records into the “notes” box with a tag: deaccessioned. Boom. Done.

With a staff of 2 or 3, this type of system seems easiest to keep the work-flow down. When the next archivist comes along with a mandate geared more toward research, they can add in the details. At least when I leave there will be an idea of what’s in the collection: creating entities, dates of creation, box and folder lists.

I think I can get most of the records into the database by the end next week. That’ll leave time for me to tackle that hodge-podge corner of the office that has been collecting government reports, uncatalogued library books, and low priority museum projects. Oh and that other Astrolab article. And whatever else Neal can come up with.

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I also have some new helpers in the office. The library shelves are getting labelled – in one afternoon the job is half done. I’ve been chipping away at that project since the beginning of February!

The McCullom scanning – the project that started it all – will be finished next Tuesday. Over 200 man-hours have gone into processing and scanning the collection of 2,100 slides.

The youngest of the boys is practicing his typing skills. He’s diligently typing a pathfinder list for the reference files in the office.

Other projects? Well let’s see… still working on contacting the Special Collections department at the National Library of Jamaica. I started to track down the publisher of our self-published museum publications. I finally have a name, now I just need to place the call. The semester is wrapping up so there are more and more students using the after school program. If today is any indication, it’s safe to say that the Museum has become a part of the community here.

Students walking in and out our door – from elementary to college level, the Red Cross is using the Science Building for a meeting tomorrow, the Tourism Board called yesterday to say that a group of international young pilots are touring the island – included in this group are writers for National Geographic Australia. They wanted us to give them a good show. No problem – one behind the scenes tour coming up. They canceled today, but want to come tomorrow morning.

This means we’ll be juggling a cruise ship and tours, the Red Cross, and the young pilot group with the writers. Did I mention that I have family coming in on the ship who I’ve promised to tour around? They will also be getting the behind the scenes tour.

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