One of my last assignments in the UCF Special Collections department was to reprocess the University Photograph Collection (UPC). The archives had been acquiring photographic prints from various departments and individuals around campus and wanted to add these new items to the finding aid as well as incorporate them into the collection.
There was a fellow student assistant who had been working on this project before it was given to me so I was fortunate enough that she had gone through and identified many of the people and buildings that had been photographed, so all I had to do was shift the entire collection. When I started there were 21 cardboard bankers boxes of materials all weighing in at around 25+ pounds (I am guessing). This doesn’t sound too awful until you try to pull a box from the top of the shelf and it feels like it is going to crush you. So between my supervisor and myself we decided to go with a laminated 1/2 hollinger boxes. This was useful for several reasons.
- This is one of the most utilized collections that we had, so there were lots of hands on the boxes. The lamination makes it easier to keep these boxes clean.
- It also made the boxes lighter so that it was easier to remove them from the top shelf.
- This also limited the number of items that were removed from the temperature controlled room and brought into the reading room.
Along with adding in photographs and switching up the boxes, I was given the task to sleeve all the photographs. The reason this was done was to keep each print from getting the dreaded fingerprint on them. Although the patrons are supposed to be using cotton gloves while handling the materials there is always the chance that someone will accidentally remove their glove and touch the image. (Fingerprints can be removed with PEC-12, but that stuff is so caustic that it should really only be used in emergencies.)
Finally, I was able to update the finding aid. I added new folders as well as combined or separated others (of course this was done only with the OK from my supervisor). I updated the finding aid using an existing XML template. I also created a new word document where I described the Box number, folder name, and image. In this document I started to write in descriptive metadata under the supervision of the department head.
Overall I learned a lot about how to process collections, describe them, and create descriptive metadata. And I must say I loved every minute of it! Here are some pictures of the completed project.