About the Projects

In February 2011, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) began two grant-funded efforts to catalog and collect risk assessment data for library and archive collections under the Museum’s Science divisions.  The projects have been funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

The CLIR-funded Cataloging Hidden Collections project, managed by Tom Baione, Library Director and Barbara Mathé, Museum Archivist, will produce nearly 1,400 catalog records from data that has been gathered in a systematic fashion for four major archival groups held in the AMNH Research Library, i.e., manuscript collections, department records, photographic print and photographic slide collections.  Project Archivist, Iris Lee, manages teams of interns to create catalog records for the collections and develops a process for converting and batch-loading MARC records from spreadsheets.  Finding aids for 20 collections will also be created and made available online.

The IMLS-funded Science Department Archives and Library Risk Assessment project is the third phase of a comprehensive Museum-wide risk assessment program, managed by Lisa Elkin, Chief Registrar & Director.  In its first year of funding, this project analyzed the risks for the specimen and artifact collections in the Science Departments and, in its second year, the risks for the science collections on permanent exhibit.  In this third phase, Beth Nunan, Associate Conservator, Julia Sylbalsky, Project Conservator, analyze data gathered by the intern teams.  Becca Morgan, Project Archivist, manages the teams to create catalog records for the archives in the Science Departments and analyze the risks for both libraries and archives under Science, including the main Research Library.

The same cataloging process proposed for the Library Cataloging Hidden Collections (CLIR) grant was proposed, and is being used for the initial data gathering for the Science Department Risk Assessment (IMLS) grant resulting in minimal catalog records for those collections as well.

These projects are managed discretely, but the overlap in both approach and subject matter begs for a collaborative effort with the project archivists, project conservator and relevant AMNH staff, meeting and sharing information about workflows and the collections.  For example, the historical department records in the Library will surely relate to collections held in the departments themselves; and authority work and consistent data mapping will be relevant across the institution.  Moreover, the student interns gain more experience and are informed of the larger Museum-wide goals and context.

Student interns work in teams of two to gather the descriptive data and the data to be used for the risk assessment.

When the projects are completed:

  • Any textual and photographic archive collections held in the AMNH, whether in the Science Department Archives or the Research Library, will be found by searching the Library Catalog, the OCLC bibliographic network (WorldCat) or by directly searching the web; in addition, records for Field Notebooks in the AMNH Archives, again regardless of location, may be added to the Field Book Registry presently being developed and hosted by Smithsonian Institution Archives.
  • Risks will be assessed for all the archival collections, in the Science Departments and in the Research Library, finalizing the comprehensive Museum-wide risk assessment.

2 Responses to AMNH Archives Project 2010

  1. Rebecca Chace says:

    I am wondering about the current status of the Whitney Memorial Hall of Pacific Bird life. Can you help me?

    Thank you

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