Well, I’m not exactly sure where the time went, but I’ve now been on the job 6 months. When I last wrote, I mentioned we’d just gotten the records management survey rolling and I’m happy to report we’re well on our way to completion. We’ve met with all three divisions and now have met or have meetings scheduled with about half the individual departments.
Although it’s obviously taken time away from other processing activities, I’ve greatly enjoyed the process of meeting with faculty, both one-on-one and as part of departmental meetings. Berklee is a very urban campus and it’s been helpful to better familiarize myself with more of the various buildings it encompasses. The College also has a lot of long-time faculty, including those who have founded departments, and it’s been a real treat to learn more about Berklee’s early days, how the curriculum has evolved, and more about the personality, interest, and needs of individual majors.
For the most part, the response has been enthusiastic, and we’ve uncovered individual archiving projects, suggestions for future oral histories, and other sources of rich institutional history. In one case, we even left a meeting with a boxload of curricular materials for the archives! In addition to getting a better sense of what kinds of records are produced and collected at the departmental level, much like when we presented to the faculty in January, these interactions have gone a long way towards contextualizing my everyday work. So I definitely consider it time well-spent.
Speaking of presentations, in March I attended my first meeting of the New England Archivists, where I presented as part of a panel on performing arts archivists. I had a great time at the conference and found the experience of putting together our talk to be quite rejuvenating. Even though we represented different arts (music, dance, theater) and vastly divergent organizational structures, it was so nice to connect and share commonalities, challenges, and creative solutions. We even had a good turnout for our session, despite being pitted against some attractive-looking programs. I also completed one of the pre-conference workshops, on photographic preservation, which was a helpful refresher and primer for tackling more of our photographic collections.
In other good news, the College president has signed off on the Archives’ mission statement, acquisitions, and access policies, which is all very exciting after months of editing and revisions on our end. Nevertheless, we still have our work cut out for us.
The last major milestone I’ll share is that we completed our first large-scale withdrawal of unprocessed materials from off-site storage. A couple of weeks ago, we transferred two processed collections from the Archives workroom and brought back approximately 100 cubic feet of unprocessed materials. We also took this opportunity to move some things around in the Archives workroom to create more processing space, so it feels like a bit of a fresh start in more ways than one.
The materials we pulled appear to have been compiled by Berklee’s Office of Public Information, which started out under the auspices of Alma Berk (wife of Berklee founder Lawrence Berk and mother to Lee Eliot Berk, who succeeded his father as the College’s second president). Who knows exactly what we’ll find, though, and I hope to share some of what we uncover when I check in next month.
On a more somber parting note, we’re coming off a sad, strange, week in the aftermath of the bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon last Monday. All things considered, the Berklee community seems to have fared well, but the College’s proximity to the crime scene has meant we were closed last week addition to the city-wide lockdown on Friday and, as of this writing, a few buildings within the ongoing investigative perimeter remain inaccessible. My thoughts are with those affected, I’m thankful for the resolution of Friday’s manhunt, and I’m very happy to finally be getting back to work this week.