Year in the Life: Steve Ammidown, Pt. 4

Steve Ammidown is one of our participants in the Year in the Life series, which follows new archivists in their first professional position for a year. You can read his previous posts here.

Planning ahead (or trying to).

My first few months on the job consisted of a whirlwind of events and requests that pulled me every which way. The upside was that I quickly came to understand the state of my collections and what needed to be done in order to bring everything into line. So, three or four months in, I sat down with a stern face and made a “long-term priorities” list.

Priorities list

And then I sat back and started howling hysterically. I had taken five lines to essentially say “do archivist things”. My list was impossibly vague and naïve, and I realized I needed to dig in even more to figure out what exactly needed to be done.

And then came the fall, and I forgot all about priorities again.

Now we’ve arrived in a new calendar year, and it seems as good a time as any to do some planning ahead. Here are a few of my goals for the next twelve months, in no particular order:

  1. Develop an actual social media plan. This has been eating at me for a while. Right now, I’m writing blog posts and posting on twitter as I find fun stuff, but I realize that to really raise our profile, I need to attack this more systematically.
  2. Rearranging/Re-housing physical collections. A carryover from the vague list. The prefix “re” is a little strong here, as my predecessors took a loose approach to physical arrangement. This is a good project when exercise and/or release of frustrations is needed.
  3. Policies. I have started drafting policies on several occasions, only to be derailed by one urgent request or other. Priorities: records management policies for headmaster papers and deaccession policies, primarily for old out-of-scope books.
  4. Displays. I love having a last-minute idea for a display or exhibit, but I’ve learned the hard way how difficult that can be to pull off. With a number of important anniversaries coming up over the next few years, now is the time to plan. Speaking of which, there’s…
  5. New approaches to displays. Several things I’ve done over the last year have been in the “because that’s the way we do it” vein. This normally gives me hives, but it’s been a good education in how things have been approached considering how little documentation I’d been given. Now it’s time to start breaking traditions.
  6. Adopting a new CMS. There’s no real system in place for digital or physical materials, and it’s maddening. PastPerfect was used previously, but abandoned for some reason. I desperately need to revisit this, as it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.

It all seems so reasonable, right? Six fairly actionable items, twelve months in which to address them. Easy peasy, or at least I’m hoping so. Of course the problem as a lone arranger is that when you’re brought a new project, you can’t then assign one of these reasonable, actionable items to someone else.
So, wish me luck! How about you- what’s on your 2016 to-do list?

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