About aschmuland

I'm head of Archives & Special Collections at the Consortium Library. I've been with A&SC since 2002, first as reference archivist, now as head of the department.

What we did this year, part 1

We get asked a lot “Just what is it you do, anyhow?” We’ll get more into the broader answer in some other posts, but in between those, we thought we’d share some of our production statistics for last year. We report these out on the academic year cycle, so this is August 2014-August 2015.

First up, the Alaska’s Digital Archives.

The Digital Archives work tends to be a fill-in task for us: reference always comes first and of course we spend a lot of our time doing collection descriptions, but as we have a chance (usually when we have a quiet day on the reference desk) we’ll usually have a few digitization/metadata projects underway to be loaded up into the Digital Archives.

Last year, we added 1782 items from 44 different collections to the Digital Archives. Most of those were single photographs. That total also includes documents: each document was counted as one item and they ranged from 1 to 7 pages. Counting from the point of selection, through scanning, adding the metadata, to uploading, a single image can take anywhere from about 10 minutes (easiest scenario: batch-scanned slides without a lot of content to catalog) up to an hour (worst case scenario: odd-sized photographs with condition issues and lots of content to catalog or a hard-to read handwritten document that has to be transcribed). Most generally take between 15 minutes and a half-hour each.

The past year we’ve been lucky enough to have a student worker who did a lot of our more repetitive scanning (like 35 mm slides), but if you see listings below for collections for which we chose 60 or less images, chances are one of us (Arlene, Gwen, Veronica) did the scanning too.

Were you curious about how we select and prioritize? First, we often do researcher-driven scanning. If we have a request for an image that hasn’t yet been digitized, we often will post that image after we’ve fulfilled the researcher request. We also pay attention to what collections and subjects are being requested by researchers and try to fill in missing spots on the Digital Archives in those areas. Sometimes it’s funding driven: over the last several years we’ve had grants or donors funding specific digitization projects like the 50th anniversary of the 1964 earthquake. Sometimes, especially with very small collections, as we’re working on new collection descriptions, we’ll take the opportunity to digitize a few photos or documents.

Oh, by the way, aside from the personnel cost to add things to the Digital Archives and the cost of the scanners we purchase so we can do the digitization, we also pay a portion of the overarching project costs for yearly software subscription and personnel caring for the servers and performing software upgrades and troubleshooting and such. Those costs are divided between the main three sustaining partners in the Digital Archives (University of Alaska Fairbanks Archives and Polar Regions Collections, Alaska State Library Historical Collections, and us) based on how many items we have in the Digital Archives (we have the fewest items in of the project partners). For FY2014-2015, the project cost for the Digital Archives was $67,270, of which UAA paid 16%: $10,763.

Here’s the list. In reviewing it as I pasted it in, I’m rather gratified to see how many of the below were selected because of researcher interest. Quite a few of this year’s additions are Anchorage-specific materials which makes sense given the uptick in requests about Anchorage history with the centennial celebrations going on.

5 images from the Dale and Ferguson papers, HMC-0098.
15 images from the Harold Strandberg papers, HMC-0237.
21 images from the Russ Dow papers, HMC-0396.
6 images from the John S. Hellenthal papers, HMC-0447.
2 letters from the Howard L. and Willoughby Filer papers, HMC-0476.
11 images from Rubye Johnson photograph album, HMC-0482.
6 images from the Beth and Ernie Wackwitz photographs, HMC-0504.
52 images from the Thomas Saplak photograph album, HMC-0540.
12 images from Otto K. Gralert papers, HMC-0550.
220 images from the Delores Mann photographs, HMC-0571.
1 four page document, Herman Binschus application and permit, HMC-0612.
1 page document, Anchorage Public Schools teacher’s contract, Rosalind Endter Koesting papers, HMC-0630.
14 images from Mildred Fisher photograph album, HMC-0661.
1 four page document with transcription, Herbert G. Jill letter, HMC-0668.
17 images from George Gelbish photographs, HMC-0715.
21 images from Alfred L. Winterton photographs, HMC-0716.
19 images from the George Szanik slides, HMC-0722.
1 two page document with transcription, John A. Grindrod letter, HMC-0735.
14 images from Bud Gilmore color slides, HMC-0738.
10 images from Unidentified Women’s Reservist photographs, HMC-0747.
17 images from Alvin and Betty Verser photographs, HMC-0766.
4 images from Arthur W. Hope papers, HMC-0790.
6 images from Ruth Schmidt papers, HMC-0792.
12 images from John P. Bagoy papers, HMC-0807.
1 four page document with transcript, A.J. Hewitt letter; HMC-0825.
16 images from James R. Denison scrapbook; HMC-0827.
1 two page document, Charles Linders letters; HMC-0842.
4 images, Walter J. Fitzgerald photographs; HMC-0849.
1 document, J.R. Dickenson proof of labor certificate, with transcription; HMC-0857.
1 journal, Grace’s McKinley record, with transcription; HMC-0887.
21 images from the Sergeant Stokes photograph album; HMC-0950.
2 documents (7 pages) from the Eugene G. Rountree papers; HMC-0964
19 images from the Jarret family album; HMC-0969.
1 document from the George W. Wilson papers; HMC-0978.
25 images from the C. M. Thurston photographs, HMC-1017.
106 images from Miriam Bell papers, HMC-1074.
55 images from Charles K. Hyde slides, HMC-1100.
31 images from the Bernasconi family slides, HMC-1161.
206 images from the John Cerutti photographs, HMC-1164.
302 images from Susan Winton photographs, HMC-1176.
418 images from Stewarts Photo Shop slides, HMC-1181
24 images and documents from Eby, Shelland, and Stark tourist papers, HMC-1183-AHS.
55 images from the Earle Jewell papers, HMC-1184
5 images and documents from the Elmer Smith letters, HMC-1192.

And since a post about the Digital Archives wouldn’t be complete without at least one photograph, here’s one of our favorites from this year’s crop. From the Winterton photographs: photographs of the Second Photographic Mapping Squadron stationed in Alaska in 1939. Several of the photographs were about a beard growing contest the squadron held, or more precisely, about the beard removal day which was apparently something of a celebration for them.