Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Assessing Progress

Since I will be away over winter break,  I returned to work at the archive today to make sure that all of our latest projects are completed, or at least organized so that when we return, starting our work again will be simple and straightforward. Even between weekends, restarting where we left off can be difficult because most tasks are fairly long and require mental organization to complete. Often I will leave notes to myself about my progress and the necessary next steps. Although I sometimes think that writing out notes wastes time that could be used to work directly on the archive, when I return to my notes I realize that the effort is well worth it. During this session I organized our workspace so that the status of our current projects would be obvious.
When we began work at the archive, all of the objects needed to be re - accessioned, so evaluating our current work's status was simple. Nothing was completed or even in progress. Today, however, our work is much farther along than it was before. Keeping track of the position of every item is now a crucial part of our work. Each object and document goes through 3 major stages. First the item is re - storaged  into  protective materials and new boxes. Then the object is accessioned into the computer. A position in the archive is found for the object. This position's location is recorded into the object's file. The accession number is attached to the object and it is finally placed in the correct spot. Often packaging is much faster than accessioning so items may become backlogged. Also, sometimes we may have a very valuable object that needs to be accessioned as soon as possible to ensure that it does not become lost, or lose its information, but we might not have the best packing material for this object yet. There are many instances where the process may become stalled or backed up. We must be careful to watch the status of each object so that we do not lose any valuable information during the process.
There are many minor details that go into maintaining our work at the archive. The overall project requires artful directing and procedural organization, but a major bulk of the work on the archive is done through small tasks. Although we have have grand ideas for the future of the archive, we only can reach these goals through small slow steps. Knowing when and how to appropriately stop a project is one of the ways that we are able to reach our greater goals at the archive effectively. Today was devoted to assessing the current state of these projects so that a break from the archive will not mean that we lose track of our progress. A majority of the work at the archive is organization, but I've always had the habit of organizing even when its not needed so I've enjoyed my time working here.

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