Bancroft Library’s Regatta Storage Facility

This semester I’ll be one of four interning for UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, at the Regatta Storage Facility which is one of their off campus storage and processing facilities in Richmond, California. The site internship supervisor is David de Lorenzo (also an instructor at SJSU SLIS), although we do not work directly with him. I have been really impressed with the organization of the internship and the presentation of orientation materials and the level of support provided at the job site.

On our orientation tour of the facility, David commented that Regatta is like the the warehouse from Raiders of the Lost Ark where the Ark of the Covenant is stored. I’d have to say I agree with his estimation, and would only add that it is a very modern version of the warehouse! Newly remodeled specifically to house museum (by David’s account there is a sarcophagus and a totem pole somewhere in the depths of the facility) and library materials (the Judaica librarian discovered a 1596? item printed in Bamberg, Germany in a box he was unpacking last Thursday), the facility is secure (we all have University issued badges that open the security gate and front door, and only have access to the portion of the warehouse storing Bancroft’s material–there are lots of locked doors and fenced off areas within the warehouse), with environmental controls for humidity and temperature, and it even has two bunkers built in for storage of volatile nitrate film. Needless to say, it is an exciting environment to be in. Our focus is processing archival collections, as one of the functions of the facility is as an archival processing center.

The goals of the internship are quite clear, as the backlog of archival materials at Bancroft is problematic. The problem has developed over time, as 20th century collections produce so much paperwork, and historically the processing approach taken by Bancroft Library has been thorough and thus, time consuming. David de Lorenzo is now using a modified Greene & Meissner approach to processing archival collections known at Bancroft as “MPLP” which stands for More Product, Less Process (see the article More Product, Less Process: Pragmatically Revamping Traditional Processing Approaches to Deal with Late 20th Century Collections”). With this new approach, access to collections can improve greatly. With grant funding, the Bancroft has hired four full time survey archivists (for three years) who are assessing the status of collections at Bancroft and are now overseeing us interns. Each of us is starting out with two of the smaller high priority collections.

My learning outcomes, based on Bloom’s taxonomy of learning are as follows:

  1. Develop arrangement schemas and formulate processing timelines for archival collections while considering institutional resources and priorities.
  2. Apply archival survey and arrangement methods to unprocessed manuscript collections.
  3. Compare, select and employ appropriate conservation methods and materials for archival objects.
  4. Appraise collection materials for retention and disposition based on institutional policies, research needs and archival standards/guidelines.
  5. Facilitate information management and retrieval by designing and constructing descriptive finding aids and accurate electronic records using archival methodologies.

To date, with only one week of the internship behind me, I have been focusing primarily on outcomes 1 and 2. For outcome 1, institutional resources and priorities have been made clear as described above, and I can see how it is important to fit processing into a timeline in order to best meet and follow through with these. I am processing the Dwight C. Steele (an environmental activist/lobbyist and labor lawyer) papers, which is comprised of seven cartons (although there are likely other materials associated with it, that I hope will be identified/delivered soon). For the survey I have a 16 hour timeline, and have completed cartons 1-3 already. I will tackle cartons 4-7 this Thursday, at which point I will be ready to create a processing plan and submit it for approval. I did struggle to stick with my timeline initially, as it is easy to want to go into too much detail at this early phase when it is actually more important to see the “forest for the trees.” However, I have a better sense of the pace I need to maintain now.

Outcome 2 focuses on the survey and arrangement methods of unprocessed manuscript collections, and well, I am up to my ears in it! I am really glad to be getting the experience and look forward to looking at the collection in a more in depth way when processing and arrangement begin.

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