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Wednesday, May 31 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
027. (Collection Care) (I Can’t Get No) Documentation: Preservation Reporting in the Archives

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In accordance with the archivist's core value of affecting workflows that prolong the lifecycle of our collections, the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) has been taking a hard look at the role of preservation practices across our organization. As our institution grew over the last forty years, our preservation documentation proved insufficient and inconsistent. As members of the Collections Management team, we have explored documentation practices that promote interdepartmental communication, transparency among staff, and long-term tracking of all preservation decisions and work done on our collections. Incorporating best practices, we have developed and implemented a Preservation Report. This presentation will examine the report's elements and share how use of the form has impacted our organization over the last year. The success of the Preservation Report is ultimately tied to its longevity. We wanted to create a form that could be broadly applied to the full range of preservation steps available at our organization. We do not have a designated conservation department, and as a consequence, practical preventative preservation is our goal. The report identifies the item(s) slated for preservation, notes the collection information, and lists any format specific requirements. There is a designated section for detailing the current condition of the material, a space to summarize the executed preservation plan, along with a note of where the material is located in the vaults. Preservation project work is executed interdepartmentally, and as such, tracking location of the item is vital. This is particularly pertinent as it relates to our revamped digitization program that pulls together members from teams across five departments. We define transparency as a state in which the staff is able to easily discern not only who is responsible for a project, but also others who are assisting, consulting, and being informed. Specific to preservation projects, the report includes a chart that identifies specific staff members by role for each necessary task. Acknowledging that members of our staff have different areas of expertise, our institution strives to collaborate so as to break out workflows that best promote long term preservation of our archival holdings. Integrating this chart in the report allows for a clear work plan and encourages interdepartmental communication. The "why” behind a final preservation decision is an integral part of an item's preservation story. It is our goal to share that story with both current and future staff. Corroborating with professionals in other institutions has confirmed that current best practices are being followed at the RAC. The Preservation Report we created encourages accountability and alleviates the complications of using multiple forms of documentation for the same project. Moreover, it has proven to be an effective way of reaching our documentation objectives and, ultimately, supports the RAC's interdepartmental goal of transparent collection care and long-term preservation.


Marissa Vassari

Archivist & Educator, Rockefeller Archive Center
avatar for Julia Welby

Julia Welby

Assistant Archivist, Collections Management, Rockefeller Archive Center

Wednesday May 31, 2017 3:30pm - 4:00pm CDT
Riverside West Exhibit Hall Exhibit Level, East Tower
  9. Poster, Collection Care