Some of our favorite things, installment 1

Inspired by a posting from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art earlier this month, we decided to share some of our favorite archives tools with you!  First up, Arlene.

 My Flip HD videocam, by Arlene

Arlene’s personalized Flip HD videocam

I know this may be surprising to include in a list of archival tools, but I love it.

Here’s the thing: I’d like to blame it on a period of sleep deprivation I had a few years ago, but I suspect it’s just age. My memory. It just isn’t what it used to be. So my Flip goes everywhere with me, especially when I go to visit donors and they show me their collections or if I need to review large quantities of records. I walk and talk with my Flip in hand and voila: instant recording with both video and audio so when that 500 cubic foot collection is brought in the door, I know how we packed it, what went where, all those things that took place at the donor’s home or place of business. Just brilliant. A few years ago when we had a long-distance processor working for us, I would film as I walked the collection stacks area and read the labels on the boxes so she knew what had been put where. And it’s what we used to film Mariecris’s great tutorial on building cheap and easy book enclosures (that’s part 1 of 5, there). And I keep promising myself that one of these days, we’ll film a guide to parking on campus for our researchers. Just as soon as I convince somebody else to star in it! Now that I’ve got the Flip, I can’t imagine how I functioned without it.

PS: I’m told that they’re stopping the production of the Flips soon.  Very sad, since the aforementioned memory problem means it now takes me a little longer to learn new pieces of equipment than it used to do. Good thing I own a few of them so I hopefully won’t have to swap out for a very long time.

PPS: In between taking the photograph of the Flip above and posting this, I managed to kill that one. Broke the lens. It still works, but in order to protect the optics when I use it, I’ve put it in its waterproof case and that kind of interferes with the audio quality. So I went out and bought a new one for general use. I haven’t yet made a pretty skin for it like I did for the one above, but one of these days I will.

The collection question

One of the regular questions we get is “what do you collect?”  That’s not always an easy question to answer! Sometimes the answer is: it depends. For a while now, though, we’ve been talking about formalizing our collection policy for A&SC. Or at least putting it into some sort of a written form that will help guide us as we try to answer that question. So that’s what follows. And if you still have the question “what do you collect?” Please feel free to use the contact us tab up top and tell us about what you have that we might want to make sure is available to researchers both now and in the future.

Why we collect?

The Archives is a part of the UAA/APU Consortium Library. The Library’s mission is to provide and maintain collections and resources that support the educational and research programs of the University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University.  The library provides information services for the benefit of the university and research communities and the residents of the state of Alaska.  The Consortium Library evaluates, acquires, organizes, and preserves knowledge and information.  The Library emphasizes access to information and instruction on the knowledgeable use of information resources.

What do we collect?

A brief answer: personal, professional, and organizational papers from individuals or organizations with an Alaskan connection. We focus specifically on unique, one-of-a-kind materials that are not typically published nor are available through other resources. This can include diaries, letters, photographs, moving images, audio, scrapbooks, meeting minutes, and many other document types. We take in electronic records as well as more traditional media such as paper-based documents.

So what types of materials do we already have?

The papers of Alaskan politicians and legislators, public policy institutes, civic organizations, businesses, doctors, nurses, social workers, lawyers, anthropologists, military personnel, academics, dancers, artists, journalists, photographers, and sometimes just your average Alaskan family home movies. If you browse through our collections list, you’ll see that our holdings represent some of the diversity that is Alaska. Our researchers represent that diversity as well, and so we want to be sure to collect materials that serve all of our researchers’ needs.

So what don’t we take?

We have a few defined groups of records that we can’t take in. These include:

  • Government records, unless they’re given to us with the blessing of the archives for whatever branch of federal, state, or local government that might be.
  • Copied materials, where the originals are held by other archives or research institutions.
  • Records that are permanently closed to access or that have access restrictions that affect our ability to provide equal access to all of our researchers.
  • Collections with no relationship to Alaska — though in that case, we’ll be happy to put you in touch with another archives that may collect in that area, so give us a call!