From artillery shells to zenith radios managing and describing objects in special collections
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From Artillery Shells to Zenith Radios: Managing and Describing Objects in Special Collections. Donnelly Lancaster Walton W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library The University of Alabama SAA presentation August 11, 2012. What is an artifact?.

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From artillery shells to zenith radios managing and describing objects in special collections

From Artillery Shells to Zenith Radios: Managing and Describing Objects in Special Collections

Donnelly Lancaster Walton

W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library

The University of Alabama

SAA presentation

August 11, 2012


What is an artifact

What is an artifact?

SAA Glossary of Archival Records Terminology definition: “A man-made, physical object”

Related terms:

  • realia: "A three-dimensional object."

  • object: "An item that is tangible, especially one with significant depth relative to its height and width; an artifact or specimen"


What are artifacts at the hoole library

What are artifacts at the Hoole Library?

  • Uniform worn by Confederate soldiers

  • Sweater shared by brothers who played on the UA tennis team in the 1930s

  • Camera used by local reporter for progressive newspaper during George Wallace’s 1963 "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” on UA’s campus

  • WPA Visual Arts Project literature figurines

  • Benjamin Butler chamber pot

  • Items recovered in campus excavations--many items came from buildings lost when Union forces invaded & destroyed campus in 1865


General benjamin butler chamber pot

General Benjamin Butler Chamber Pot


Antebellum student chair found during excavation of campus

Antebellum student chair found during excavation of campus


Issues concerns

Issues/concerns

  • No systematic, consistent treatment of these items, either physically or descriptively

  • Data about the items (if it exists) is spread across several spreadsheets, documents, and databases

  • Some housed in areas of increased security, such as “The Cage” or “The Vault”


From artillery shells to zenith radios managing and describing objects in special collections

The

Cage


What are we doing

What are we doing?

GOAL: Make these items accessible as simply as possible and use Archivists’ Toolkit (AT) to do it

  • Define artifact as any three-dimensional item that is not paper-based and not an audio or graphic item (no paintings, audio records, etc.)

  • Identified legacy data throughout the library


What are we doing1

What are we doing?

  • Created artificial collection: “W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library Artifacts Collection”

    • Contains artifacts that are not part of other collections

  • Made sure that existing data about artifacts is in the parent collection record

  • Use artifactoption in AT to tag these items


What are we doing2

What are we doing?

  • Each item has its own record; notes fields contain anything we know about provenance, etc.

  • Reviewed all 3500 manuscript collection records in AT, looking for artifacts

    • Changed instance to artifact

    • Added standardized statement to Scope & Contents note (“Collection contains artifacts”)


What have we learned

What have we learned?

  • A work in progress

  • Although we’ve created simple policies and procedures, we need to assess our use of the “Cage” and “Vault”

  • Creating item-level records? What about MPLP?

  • We are meeting our goal to provide access as simply as possible


Contact me

Contact me!

Donnelly Lancaster Walton

W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library

The University of Alabama

Email: [email protected]

Website: http://www.lib.ua.edu/libraries/hoole/


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