In advance of the 2018 Annual Meeting, we invited SNAP members to contribute summaries of panels, section meetings, forums, and pop-up sessions. Summaries represent the opinions of their individual authors; they are not necessarily endorsed by SNAP, members of the SNAP Steering Committee, or SAA.
Guest Author: Alicia Patterson, MLIS
511: How Does That Work? Strategies of Remote Archivists and Archives
Remote by Design: It takes a Village to Raise a Post-custodial Archives – Paul C. Lasewicz__- McKinsey & Company
- When an archivist manages an archive and the records are further away (so far that money needs to be spent to get to them).
- Workplace realities:
- Digital as a problem (assessing what parts of digital can impede or go wrong; account for)
- It tends to give more opportunities outside and from a collaborative aspect
- Distantly distributed work teams (software, platforms allow this)
- Non-traditional workers (contractors, interns, crowd sourcing, descriptions, grad students, etc…)
- Workplace environment is just as important for retaining talent (benefits, salary, etc…)
- May be a much more realistic option
- New term for this sphere: Post Custodial
- -archivists managing a collection that they don’t have access to and are not physically located near the collection.
- Provide reference services (short-term plan)
- Integrate archive into activities (long-term plan) [helps with justification]
- Village approach:
- Archival Services Firm
- Archivists of Volunteers (Administrative Assistants on-site of repository)
- Facility Management (where the records are)
- He chose to use an application that was available in-house= for support (from IT, etc…)
- Chose to use: Web conferencing, S: drive, virtual team meetings, emails, etc…
- Success was shown once a typical request took 2 hours for turnaround answer
- Yes= non-traditional / beneficial / viable / workable options
Lone and Remote Arranger: Offsite Management of a Health System’s Archives – Jeni Spamer -Virginia Mason Health System
- Virginia Mason is a system of clinics and hospitals in Seattle. The archives have been put together and collected over a long time, since about 2006.
- Jeni was moving across the country with her husband and put in her notice; they asked if she could stay on and work remotely in the interim until they got a new manager; paying her 80% FTE and changing her status from Exempt to Per Diem.
- She created a remote work plan immediately
- 50-75% of her work day was spent in front of the computer already (she figured that those statistics wouldn’t change and wrote down all those tasks to continue remotely).
- Had a team of (3) full-time and (1) part-time – she figured out a transition plan for them and kept everyone up-to-date.
- List of tasks that she could still complete (documenting procedures, email, virtual outreach, processing digital records, weekly updates, scanning oversite, etc…)
- Request comes in > Research (where and what needs to be scanned) > Send to trained colleague for them to pull, scan and email pdf back (worked out to approximately 1.5 hours/week) > Get back to request
- ! Documentation Improved! ! Better Project management skills! ! More transparency at work! ! Flexibility!
- Small meetings (using face-time)
- Flew back to Seattle from Delaware for large meetings with stakeholders
- Shared One Note Notebook (statistics, status of goals, tasks, etc…)
- Skype for Business
- What’s Different:
- Time zones
- More outreach
- Motivation to tackle digital collection
- Less face time
- Environmental monitoring (a plan for this needs to happen to ensure that the collection is safe)
- Lone Ranger
- There is a bit of a professional disconnect
- But it builds:
- Longevity and Loyalty within the company
- Potential cost savings
- Flexibility inspires loyalty
- Reduced to part-time shortly
- Salary savings = plane tickets and lodging
- Organizational changes (she has been through 4 managers and one department change)
- Her status is back to permanent now and she is both full-time and salary
- Still just an archivist (not a digital archivist)
- Curation and Collections were some of her challenges and still are.
- Concentrating now on digital curation and collection!
Remote Archival Management as an Adaptive Strategy – Ja-Zette Marshburn- National Museum of African American History and Culture
- Part-time remote Archivist
- Create records collection- make them accessible
- 3 days a week
- Reorganized an entire storage unit
- Created Resource guides
- AFRO Headquarters- Archives
- Had a part-time tech who worked 2 ½ days / A volunteer helper 2x a month / student worker and an intern eventually as well
- Collaborative partners- who have way to grant funded projects
- Access to archives:
- Before; take the request and look through boxes
- After; Used RCon database, which allows you to look through the database and choose ahead of time what you want to look at before coming in.
- Microfilms are available at local libraries and around the country
- Getty Images
- This turned into and grew into a full-time job
- She was the Institutional Historian, did permission licensing, was the Social Media Manager and Graphic Designer during her time as Archivist.
- She stressed that this type of job needs buy-in which means you need to understand your stakeholders, public, etc…
- There was not an IT person (at the newspaper) and they moved to a remote server.
- Advantages of working remotely:
- Priority management
- Work commute
- Opportunity for speaking engagements
- Access to work files via remote server
- Expanding networking into DC (from Baltimore)
- Conference call meetings
- Digitization (although the scanning did require her to go into the office for this aspect)
- Remote Archival Management Rewards:
- Project Management
- Task prioritization
- Utilize strategies in current positions
- Reinforced the need for policies and protocol over the processing of the collection
- No back-up for digitization
- Had to use her own computer
- File sharing/viewing of large computer folders
- Conference Calls
Questions from Audience:
How do you handle training of staff and new acquisitions?
A: Writing procedures up (not the best way to train) and used the remote option on her computer to remote in when more in depth questions were asked so she could take control of the person’s mouse and show where/how/etc…
A: If someone called they would gather the contact information and what the collection is for acquisitions. Then, a transfer would be coordinated (just like it was done when she was in the office). Then whoever enters it into the database; it is immediately able to be seen by everyone (including those in a remote location).
A: New tasks were assigned (training) when Administrative Assistants would ask for them. Shipping and Accessioning- coordination of was scheduled when he could fly out and be there. Someone in Florida also keeps an eye on his mailbox for him.
A: Grant projects allowed the use of library technicians from time to time. Training for volunteers and interns meant that she would sit and train with them for a week before letting them out on their own.
How would you approach a situation in case of a change in management?
A: She is on her fourth manager and one complete department shift. They all just passed it on, because of the shared One Note notebook and have never had a problem.
A: They couldn’t hire an archivist tech and there is a new record publisher. Archives are now located away from the newspaper as well.
How are you able to have such a short turnaround time?
A: Measurement Time: detailed directory and a spreadsheet tracking time. The directory becomes a tool itself.
A: Permission licensing came in a lot. She would manage their expectations right off the bat. Then it is lined up in the spreadsheet with the date/etc.. in an Outlook Calendar. Stats are collection and show what is being used, etc…