After last week’s explanation of appraisal, the first step in the archival management process, it is time for step two: accessioning. When material is given to us, it is often extremely unorganized. Our first job is to sort through it and give it a general order. Not a lot of time is spent sorting things out at this stage; scrapbooks go in one pile, newspaper clippings in another, etc.
Allison Engblom is the Accessions Specialist here at the NMU Archives. She is responsible for the initial overview of new material. Along with general sorting, emergency preservation is an essential part of the accessioning process. Some of the documents and books sit in an attic or garage for years before they get to us, which means that Allison has her work cut out for her.
The material can be moldy, dusty, or just plain beat up. Allison’s job is to either try to salvage the material or make reproductions if the quality of the original is too poor. She then puts the material in acid free archival boxes and folders. We keep our material in acid free boxes and folders because it helps with the long term preservation of documents.
Once the material has been sorted and quality control as taken place, Allison creates an inventory with a brief description of everything in the collection and then assigns it a location on our shelves. This information is entered into the Archivist’s Toolkit database, which indicates the content, size and location of each collection in the Archives. At this point, although the information is in the database, the collection isn’t quite available to the public.
Next week, we’ll find out what happens in the third step of the archival management process!
Prepared by Savannah Mallo and Olivia Ernst.