MVAR Recap 5/17/2012

Today was the most recent meeting of the Miami Valley Archivists Roundtable (or, MVAR), an informal gathering of archivists in and around Dayton, Ohio. This time, we met at the Greene County Records Center & Archives in Xenia, Ohio, with Gillian Marsham Hill, the records and information manager/ archivist, as our hostess.

Gillian and her assistant, Joan Donovan, were eager to tell us all the details of their recent move from their previous building on Main Street to their current location on Ledbetter Road (near several other county offices).

New location of Greene County Archives

New location of Greene County Archives

But first, the institutional reports!

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The institutional reports consist of each person in attendance taking a turn, stating their name, position, and institution, and sharing a little bit about what they have been up to lately, archives-wise. (The label “institutional reports” may make it sound formal, but it’s really not!) Here are some snippets from the reports that I hope my peers won’t mind my sharing:

Rachel Bilokonsky, the MVAR chairwoman and University of Dayton archivist, shared that the University Archives has recently implemented the Archivists’ Toolkit as well as a new records classification scheme (with help of intern and WSU PH grad student Maggie Zakri). She also told us about a University Archives open house coming up on June 9 (from 10-12 a.m.), in conjunction with a memorial tree dedication for former Dayton area Congressman Charles W. Whalen, Jr. Whalen was a UD grad (class of 1942), and the UD Archives has his congressional papers, which, incidentally, Rachel told us they recently received an OHRAB grant to rehouse — over 500 boxes. More information about the June 9th Whalen memorial activities can be found on the UD Events page for 6/9/2012. Rachel also asked if anyone else would like to take over as chair of MVAR in the near future, to let her know; she has been chairperson for a few years now.

James Zimmerlin of the Records Center & Archives of Warren County said he has his first archives volunteer starting next week, and he will also be hiring a summer intern soon ($8 per hour, 20 hours/week for 12 weeks).

Three archivists from Wright State University Special Collections & Archives were in attendance.

Lynda Kachurek is now the Digital Initiatives Coordinator at WSU SCA, which has increased her focus on metadata, web coding, digitization (such as with the Campus Online Repository or CORE), and social media elements of archives. Lynda was also pleased to announce that all of SCA’s 700+ collections now have at least minimal descriptions on th web site.

Chris Wydman, Wright State’s University Archivist, is working on a new electronic records policy for WSU, as well as an oral history project with university retirees, which will have video and audio available on CORE.

Gino Pasi recently acquired new duties at WSU SCA in the area of collections management. Also, he and fellow archivist Toni Vanden Bos recently applied for — and received — a grant to create a traveling exhibit about Dayton’s 1913 Flood, which they are now creating.

Lonna McKinley of the National Museum of the United States Air Force asked if there were any archives topics that people would be interested in hearing a presentation about, as the Midwest Archives Conference is trying to find speakers on various topics.

Natalie Fritz of the Clark County Historical Society announced that they received another OHRAB grant to continue processing probate records, have implemented a slightly different fee schedule for using their research room ($5 per day), and and are in the process of seeking AASLH accreditation. (Also, Natalie will be presenting tomorrow at the Society of Ohio Archivists annual meeting about the probate records they have already processed using a previous OHRAB grant.)

Another one of the Historical Society’s employees, Mel Glover, comically described his duties as often falling under the category of “other duties as assigned.” But he added that it’s a great museum at which to work, small enough that he gets to do neat things all the time, but big enough to have some really cool collections. (I tried to get his words down verbatim, but I’m afraid I failed, so the previous statement lives somewhere in the world between direct quote and paraphrase!) I just thought that was a nice way of looking at things at a smaller institution — not that you “have to” have a hand in everything, but you get to have a hand in everything!

Several Wright State University Public History grad students reported on their recent activities, including Noel Rihm, who has been working (along with 4 other students) on an exhibit about Wilbur Wright at Carillon Park (but produced by Wright State U.). The “Wilbur Wright: A Life of Consequence” exhibit will be open to park visitors on May 27.

May 30th, 2012, marks the 100th anniversary of Wilbur Wright’s death from typhoid fever, so activities have been planned in Dayton this year to remember him. (Here’s an online list of some of the Wilbur Wright events in 2012.) As a matter of fact, we have a case exhibit about Wilbur Wright currently on display in the Local History Room at the Dayton Metro Library. So come on down to the basement of Main and see it, any time during normal open hours!

When it was my turn, the most significant thing I could think to share was that I had finally – finally – finished arranging and describing the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (MS-018) at the Dayton Metro Library. (A much-abbreviated version of the Forrer-Peirce-Wood finding aid is available on the OhioLINK EAD Repository.) After 10 months, 40 legal size Hollinger document cases, and about 230 pages of finding aid….it’s finally done. Excuse me while I “WOOHOO!” Seriously, I had a blast learning about that family (some of which I shared here – at length – as you probably noticed), but I’m glad to move onto something else now. (FYI, that something else will be a collection of materials pertaining to Ebenezer Thresher and his daughters Mary and Laura.)

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After the institutional reports, we went over the list of relevant upcoming conferences:

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Next, Gillian Hill told us the back story of this past “year of turmoil” and the events that ultimately resulted in moving the GC Records Center & Archives from its previous location on Main Street to the current location on Ledbetter Road. To make a long story short, the previous building, which was built in the early 1800s and included a lot of sandstone, was deteriorating. Although the sandstone deterioration had probably been happening for a while, it did not became obvious until about last May — and at that time it became very obvious and pretty serious, very quickly.

The previous Greene County Archives building (Feb. 2012)

The previous Greene County Archives building (Feb. 2012)

For a brief period of time, archives staff were not allowed into a part of the building that contained records, because it was unsafe and needed to be stabilized. As archivists, we spend our lives preserving and protecting these records, and then to be told that the records have to stay in a certain place where you are prohibited to go because it’s not safe… But what about the records?! Yes, yes, we all get that human life is more important, but still. To have to stand powerlessly by while 200+ years of history (history that you are designated to protect) is in danger… The word for it is “horrifying.” I remember thinking it as Gillian described the situation, and then Gillian herself said it: “It was just horrifying.”

But that’s in the past now! And the records survived! (And so did the staff!) And the building was stabilized enough that they could be safely removed, without endangering the humanmovers. So steps were set in motion to move the shelving and the materials to the new location, which has now all been completed, and GC RC&A is back in business!

We got a tour of the new GC RC&A location. It looked like a nice space and a good size – 4,000 square feet.

Greene County Archives1

Greene County Archives

Greene County Archives2

Greene County Archives

Marriage records at the Greene County Archives

Marriage records at the Greene County Archives

After lunch, I got a demonstration of the archives’ relatively new ScanPro 1000 microfilm scanner…and, WOW. That thing is amazing.

Joan Donovan demonstrating the ScanPro 1000

Joan Donovan demonstrating the ScanPro 1000

Let’s just say I am used to microfilm reader/scanners that require quite a lot of fussing with the focus and the brightness to get even halfway usable images. But that ScanPro 1000 was just a dream. So clear and crisp and so many image adjustment options right there on the screen. Pretty awesome. Maybe someday…

All in all, another great MVAR meeting!

Be Nice to Archivists

Be Nice to Archivists

2 responses to “MVAR Recap 5/17/2012

  1. Thanks for the publicity, Lisa. Great blog!

    Gillian.

  2. Pingback: MVAR Recap 8/16/2012 | Glancing Backwards

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