Student asks super questions

Ksenia working with Arliss Sturgulewski's campaign materials.

The archives is blessed to have the aid of the Consortium Library’s fine student workers. Just by searching our blog you can see the multiple projects that students have helped make possible. This blog is to talk about one student in particular, Ksenia Polikakhina.

Our archives vault is getting full. This is good news; we have lots of collections available for research! This also means that we will be running out of space as more collections come in through the years. To help make room for future collections we hope to put in compact shelving. We are also facing the inevitable fact that someday some of our collections will have to be stored offsite. This is our long range plan as compact shelving is not exactly cheap. Our short range plan involves assessing how we currently store our collections, how to store them more efficiently, and what can be stored elsewhere. By elsewhere, I am referring to one of our ongoing projects in which we move annotated publications from the collections and into the rare books room. Doing so provides access to the books via the library catalog. In addition, the library record links to the book to the collection from which it came.

One way we looked at how we store archival materials involved assessing the use of our acidfree boxes. Arlene noticed that housing large collections in cubic foot boxes make the best use of space than the gray 2 ½’’ and 5’’ inch boxes do. For example, each shelf holds 3 cubic foot boxes. If you have a collection in which the first 2 boxes are cubic footers, the third one is a 5’’ inch box, (0.4 cubic feet) and the fourth one is a cubic footer, you wouldn’t be able to fit them all on the same shelf. The first three boxes would go on one shelf, there would be a 0.6 cubic foot gap on the shelf, and the fourth would box be placed on the next shelf. Now imagine this scenario repeated with a 10 or 30 box collection. That adds up to a lot of wasted space.

One collection that is currently going through this process of consolidation into cubic footer boxes is the Arliss Sturgulewski papers. This is a perfect collection to consolidate as it has been processed by multiple people processing/boxing different parts of the collection. The consolidation process will create a more cohesive and precise box list. It is also a project that requires a lot of patience. The box and folder list needs to be updated as files are moved around. Any anomalies have to be corrected. And, there is a lot shelving and reshelving of boxes. Thankfully, Ksenia has diligently and enthusiastically taken on the project. One of the aspects I enjoy most about working with Ksenia is her questions. Perhaps archivists just like questions. But the real reason is that Ksenia’s questions have answers that provide a clearer description of the collection’s contents and arrangement. And that is a very super thing.

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