Monday, October 24, 2011

I'm still here!

Where I have been hiding out . . .

I've been quiet on this blog, I know, but that's because three months and four days ago I started a job. A permanent, full-time gig, uh-huh. Yup, I did. I am now the archivist for a university and it is pretty darn cool. It's also a National Historic Site and oh-so-beautiful.

Not only am I drinking in my gorgeous new surroundings, I am also applying a lot of learning. Archives, for one, is where collections management rawks. The Rules for Archival Description (RAD) (truest acronym ever!) here in Canada makes so much sense, and really is a fabulous way to organize a collection. Yes, it is a bit complicated in the sense that there is a three inch binder of rules to figure out but it is so great to have a national standard. Once you get the rules, it all falls into place and provides a guidelines for both collection organization and description. It's really elegant.

I have been applying RAD to our archival holdings and using the information to populate our version of the university's ICA-AtoM (International Council of Archives - Access to Memory) web-based inventory / access software. It's open-source, and what I like about it is it standardizes ways for multiple repositories to share information on their holdings. The plan is, once I get the majority of the archives arranged and described, I will put the main fonds (collections) on the MemoryBC website. This will add the collection of photographs, video, documents and other media to a province-wide, one-stop website for researchers interested in the history British Columbia. How cool is that?

So what is it like to work just once removed from the type of work I am used to doing with museums? It is wonderful! So many of the skills of collection management are transferable, and I have the opportunity to really get to full comprehension of another spoke on the wheel of organizing material culture. I am still doing some consultant work for museum projects, which keeps me connected to my beloved museums, but this experience of cross-training is very exciting to me. That and I now have a rich and wonderful opportunity to serve one institution, which just thrills me on both a professional and spiritual level. I feel truly blessed, challenged, and excited by the work I am now doing. Who could ask for more? 

A sample of some of the material I am organizing.

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