Gladys Worthington Papers, Bancroft Library

Wow, it is hard to believe my internship at U.C. Berkeley‘s Bancroft Library has come to a close. Thursday was my last day, and I will truly miss my time working at the archive. I haven’t updated the blog recently about my internship experience, and so much has been accomplished since my last post. I’ve completed the processing and finding aid for the Dwight C. Steele Papers (BANC MSS 2005/195 c), which are now available in OskiCat, the online catalog for U.C. Berkeley Libraries, and soon the Online Archive of California. Further, I processed and arranged my second collection, the Gladys Worthington Papers, and finished all of the front matter for the finding aid (biography, scope and content, etc.). Only the container list remains, which will hopefully be finished soon, so that this collection will also be available for research.

Gladys Worthington (c. 1911-1982) was a Bay Area social worker who was primarily active in providing services for senior citizens, although she was active in other areas as well. She spent time as a relief worker with the American Red Cross during World War II, when she was stationed in France. She wrote an unpublished autobiographical account of her time in France, titled Not a Donut Dolly. This manuscript is accompanied by fascinating photographs from this period.

I used the More Product Less Process (MPLP) mantra quite effectively while processing this collection due to time constraints. The idea is to make these important collections that have been backlogged available for researchers as soon as possible. Although the bulk of the processing work and finding aid was completed, I was disappointed that I was not able to finish the container list. I do hope that someone else is able to complete this list soon, so that access to the collection is not further delayed.

”]Stephanie Roach at Bancroft Library's Regatta Storage Facility
Advertisements

Dwight C. Steele Papers: Manuscript Processing Lessons Learned

My internship at U.C. Berkeley’s Bancroft Library is coming along. The manuscript collection I am processing, the Dwight C. Steele Papers, is coming along, and I am feeling good about my work. I will finish labeling the folders and cartons and work on the finding aid next time I am in. Then it will be time to move on to the next collection.

Before I do, though, I realize I’ve learned so much through the processing of this first collection. The biggest difficulty I have had is in sticking to the institutional priority of “MPLP” or “More Product, Less Process” which reflects an approach to processing proposed by Mark A. Greene and Dennis Meissner (2005) published in The American Archivist.  While Bancroft is using a modified Greene and Meissner approach, meaning there is flexibility in processing, with much more detailed work allowed on a case by case basis, my natural inclination is to be very detailed in my work, which typically takes too much time, considering the backlog of materials that needs to be processed. So, as I’ve gone through the collection survey and processing process, I’ve been forced to seek strategies to speed things along. Some of the time, this happens after the fact, so that on my next collection, I won’t make the same types of mistakes.

Yesterday, while at the job site, I had to do some backtracking, as I was horrified to discover my collection had grown over the course of my processing due to extensive refoldering (the new folders were taking up more space than they were originally, as I wasn’t filling each folder as much as I should have been). This turned out to be unjustified by the time I had the collection arranged. As I’d been working, I painstakingly made chronological folders for each year for some series, as I planned to add to each folder and fill it as I processed. Unfortunately, the majority of these folders were not filled, some of which only had one or two documents inside.

This turned out to be a waste of space and resources. So, in order to avoid adding another box or carton to the collection, I began to consolidate some of these folders and was able to fit the collection into the original space allotment. I may do a bit more of this before I create the finding aid and add the container list. The fewer individual folders I have, the easier this will be to do, and the more time I will save. Of course, backtracking takes time, too. But the lesson is learned, and will save me time both in creation of the finding aid and in the processing of future collections. In just a couple of work days, I will be started on the next collection and able to apply all that I’ve learned along the way. I believe I will be much more successful in adhering to MPLP.

Further, I am excited that Mr. Steele’s collection will finally be accessible to researchers and the public. What a payoff. I get to see the collection move from a disorganized state, through to a neatly foldered and organized collection that will be of use to patrons of the Bancroft Library.

 

Internship Update: the Dwight C. Steele Papers at Bancroft Library

My internship at U.C. Berkeley’s Bancroft Library‘s Regatta Storage Facility has continued in Richmond, CA, along with the three other interns working at the same site. Each of us is processing a different collection. Mine is the Dwight C. Steele Papers, which is comprised of 7 cartons, and two oversized boxes. Mr. Steele was a labor lawyer turned environmental lobbyist/activist. He was involved deeply in Bay Area and Lake Tahoe Region environmental causes (most activity is from the 1960s – 2000), through personal lobbying and work with groups such as the Save San Francisco Bay Association (also known as Save the Bay), the San Francisco Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), Citizens for the Eastshore State Park, the Sierra Club, the Sierra Nevada Alliance, the League to Save Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, the Tahoe-Baikal Institute and others.

The initial part of my internship was involved in surveying the collection and developing a processing plan based on the survey, and according to strict guidelines developed as a result of institutional priorities–the idea is More Product, Less Process or MPLP, an approach devised by Greene and Meissner to help assure access is prioritized when institutional backlogs are dominating holdings.

The next phase–and I am still working on this part–is the actual arranging and processing of the collection. Unfortunately, strict deadlines weren’t given to us, and the processing plan form indicated I had much more time to work on this, as it was using non-MPLP time frames. Last Thursday, we were given a soft deadline to complete work on the collection by October 21, 2010. Technically that left only 16 hours of work. Yikes. I’m only 1/2 done now, and still have to produce a finding aid! Fortunately, I discussed my dilemma with my supervisor and was given another full day to complete my work on the collection. As a result, I am spending some time reviewing all of my survey notes and researching Mr. Steele’s connections and involvement so I can develop a revised strategy for completing the collection within the new time frame.

While the deadline is imminent, I recognize that a changing environment is a realistic situation. Communication sometimes breaks down, and plans have to be revised to meet the new criteria. Asking questions, checking in, and staying flexible are key. The internship’s first learning outcome specifically focuses on institutional priorities when creating processing timelines, and I have to balance my natural inclination for in depth work with the need for timely access to the collection. What a learning opportunity. I’ve shifted into high gear in order to get back on track. Continue reading