Currently viewing the tag: "Cataloging"

Over the past year, we have been gathering descriptive data in spreadsheets for archival collections in the Library and Science Departments. Collection records are then converted into MARC and batchloaded into the catalog. EAD-encoded collection-level finding aids will also be generated using Archivists’ Toolkit. The ultimate goal is to publish catalog records and finding aids on the web for resource discovery. (You may be asking yourself) what in the world does all this mean? Here, let me illustrate the journey of data in this colorful, and hopefully more intelligible flowchart. Click here for a PDF. And look for links to handy guidelines!

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Boo hoo, alas, after three months, today was our last day in Herpetology. We spent the day trying to do as much as we can to complete the risk assessment of the processed collection, and the cataloging and risk assessment of the unprocessed collections. As we mentioned in last week’s blog, the unprocessed collections are HUGE. There were many boxes of papers, slides, photographs (both black & white and color), notebooks, and more. To give a perspective, Ernest A. Liner’s collection has over 8,000 slides! Whew! Unfortunately, most of these slides have sustained damage due to being housed in non-archival plastic sleeves. The sleeves are sticking to the emulsion of the slides. We were told that these slides are one of the most important items in his collection. Hopefully, these slides will be preserved somehow.

Near the end of the day, we found boxes of slides that showed the various stages of venomous snake and spider bites including several slides depicting autopsies of fatal bites. These slides are from the Sherman Minton collection. Minton seemed to specialize in studying the effects of venom and anti-venom.

To conclude, while we learned a lot about cataloging and risk assessment of archival collections, we also increased our knowledge of reptiles and amphibians as a side benefit. Jannette’s favorite out of the entire collection was the giant turtles that greeted us everyday as we walked to the archival room. My favorite reptile was Ernest Liner’s smiling pet, Buster, the Mexican beaded lizard.

In Herpetology, we are nearing the end of the cataloging and risk assessment phases. Today, Rebecca continued with the risk assessment of the processed collections, while I catalogued the unprocessed collections. Adding to the disorganization, there were numerous boxes placed by the filing cabinets that needed to be sorted out. Not all the boxes were labeled, so I had to deduce who the creator was. I was able to do this by deciphering the handwriting on the materials in the unidentified boxes. The result was there were actually three collections (Ernest A. Liner, Roger Conant, and Sherman Minton.) These were labeled accordingly so hopefully, during the next cycle, it will be easy to continue with this project.

On the risk assessment side, things are moving quickly. While the majority of the materials were field notes, Rebecca came across some interesting black and white photos and beautiful etchings of various species. We have to say that we’ve made good progress and hopefully we will finish on the last day of our internship.

While tackling some of the unprocessed collections in Herpetology, we came across a century 0ld scrapbook of newspaper clippings about toads. The clippings spanned from 1911 to 1936 and the scrapbook was in good condition. One very interesting article that caught our attention was about a hop toad that was found alive in Nantucket after 21 years entombed in cement! We were amazed and intrigued to read about this. Upon further research, we found another article that mentioned of a horn toad that suffered a similar fate. However, he was discovered alive after 31 years in West Texas. The article discussed the findings of a researcher who claimed that certain species of frogs can exist without food or water for a hundred years. Wow, this was truly mind boggling!

Other than our trip through old newspapers, we were able to complete the cataloging and risk assessment of the rest of the unprocessed collections that were mixed in with the maps. These included photographs, negatives, posters, artwork, and other mixed formats, including field notes. We are finding that cataloging these unprocessed collections takes a bit longer due to the vast variety of formats. However, looking through these “treasure troves” makes this project fascinating and enjoyable.

Again, there were many photographs that are in need of correct archival storage and treatment. We found a cool looking enlarged x-ray of a coiled snake that we think almost looks like a chain necklace. Next week, we shall be exploring a different room in Herpetology, who knows what we will discover next!

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In addition to our assignment of exposing hidden collections and performing risk assessment in the Invertebrate Zoology departmental archive, we are also helping to facilitate a shift of the materials. That is, the research library here at the museum will be accessioning the IZ archive and incorporating it into its archival holdings, with OPAC records and all. Given that, we spent a good portion of the day re-housing the correspondence collections we’ve previously cataloged from the filing cabinets where they used to live into 10x12x15 Paige miracle boxes, and labeling the contents. The only portion of the archive that will remain in the IZ department is the New York Entomological Society papers, which is a hitherto unprocessed collection.

The curious, aspiring archivists that we are, we couldn’t help but peek into some of those unorganized boxes that will be left behind. To our delight and amusement, we came across the liveliest item of any collection yet, a scrap album of the centennial celebration (1892-1992) of the New York Entomological Society. Among photographs and newspaper clippings about the event, the album contains a dinner menu…and what an appetizing menu it is. Among some of the savory dishes listed are plain, wax worm, and mealworm avocado; wild mushrooms in mealworm flour pastry; cricket and vegetable tempura; mealworm balls in zesty tomato sauce; mini fontina bruschetta with mealworm ganoush, wax worm fritters with plum sauce; roasted Australian Kurrajong grubs, sautéed Thai water bugs; assorted cricket breads with butter…and for desert, assorted insect sugar cookies. Yum yum.

It has been a productive summer in the AMNH Research Library: 454 collections cataloged in the Photographic Print collection, and 461 collections for the Photographic Slides. That’s over 900 collections recorded for a single term! To our benefit, we did start with some pretty solid inventories, but verifying the data and assessing risk is no small task. Many improvements were made such as adding access points to the subject and contributor fields. Titles, dates, and summaries were revised to be made DACS-compliant. There was even time to do authority work on personal and corporate names. In twelve weeks, I think we accomplished a lot.

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Well, it’s the end of my time here at AMNH, and it’s certainly been a great experience. I’ve enjoyed looking into some of the Museum’s hidden collections and making records for them so that one day they won’t be so hidden. Since most of my work was in the Anthropology Department, and because there is yet work to be done there, I’ve created a summary of what has been completed there, and what is left to be done by interns this Fall.

All locations in the Anthropology Archive have undergone Phase 1 cataloging.Todd and I began this work in the Spring semester, and thought that because the Department already had their own records this phase would go fairly quickly. It took much longer than expected because we were overly thorough in our additions to the records of things like Physical Description, and additions to the Summary field. Verifying authority records using the Library of Congress Authorities site also took considerable time.

The Server Room (Room 36), Anthropology 2 (Room 14), and the Hallway Map case have undergone Phase 2 risk assessment.Still needing risk assessment are Anthropology 1 (Room 15), Hallway filing cabinets outside of Anthropology 1, and Hallway cabinets outside of the kitchen area.

 

Notes:

Bolding in the cataloging spreadsheet indicates new entries or information that was added to the records since obtaining the Department’s original catalog records from Kristen Mable.

Anywhere in the cataloging spreadsheet that the creator is listed as “AMNH Department of Anthropology,” the authorized heading is “American Museum of Natural History. Dept. of Anthropology.”I believe I’ve changed all of these using Excel’s find and replace function, but did not check line by line.

Field Notes were identified by determining whether the material appeared to be a first person account or observation of time spent in the field where the researcher was working.This includes field data sheets, sketches of sites, notes on what the researcher saw or heard at the site, and diaries kept while in the field.

On our final day in the Photographic Slide Collection, we divided our day between the two summer-long goals of cataloging hidden collections and performing a risk assessment of these collections. We are pleased to report that we reached our target of carrying out Phase 1 and Phase 2 up to PSC 359!

It was business as usual on our last day with this collection, and we have certainly seen a lot of amazing images. We had a very productive summer and learned a lot from this experience. See below for a photo of all of the collections we worked our way through.

Both David and I will be returning for the fall and are looking forward to exploring different areas of the archives. See you next semester!


Today we went through the end of Phase 1 and, unbelievably, we also made it through the end of Phase 2. How satisfying. The Photographic Print Collection is now done. Yay!

We came across this cool stereoscopic viewer which allowed us to see the slides in 3D, which included photos of Hawaii and Cambodia. Low-tech Avatar, but it really works.

This summer has been a great learning experience, and we got to see some pretty amazing stuff. Not only in processing the Photographic Print Collection, but through SAA webinars, tours of the diorama renovations and rare book rooms, and the brown bag lunch with Richard T. Fischer.

Lauren will be returning for more museum adventures this fall, but this is Joanna’s farewell. Thank you Iris, Becca, Barbara, Tom, Mai, Greg, and the rest of library staff for everything.


Today is our last day in the Paleontology archives. We started the morning with another tour with Bob Evander, checking out hidden collections among the specimens. We also came across this awesome giant sloth!

We’ve finished wrapping up all the loose ends for Phase 1 and 2 and have labeled all the collections. At some point, the hidden collections will have to be included but we took pictures of all the locations so that can be finished at a later point. Also the new collections that we created will need to be added to the finding aid. VPA collection numbers also need to be integrated into the existing finding aid. During our risk assessment, we did a basic overview of the map collection, but it’s clear that additional work on this collection would be helpful to the department, there are about 3,000 maps. The intention is for it the maps to be an ongoing project. We also have one collection of totally unprocessed material which we did a basic catalog record for, eventually it will hopefully be processed.

We really enjoyed our summer here at the museum and feel that we have learned a lot about how an archives works, creating new collections, and conducting risk assessment.