Brandel Library

HSTY 7300 History and Theology of the Covenant Church

What do Archivists do?

Evaluate and Assess

Because people and institutions continue to create records, archives regularly receive new records that need to be assessed and - if they fit the collecting scope of the archives - added to the collection. However, more than merely being passive in this process, I'm increasingly reaching out to record creators to help them manage the records they create

Organize and Describe

Once the archives receives a collection of records, a key task is to organize and describe the records so that people can find and use them. We describe most archival collections using finding aids and describe most published materials in the library catalog.

Preserve Records

A fundamental part of my job is to preserve records. In general, we try and take preventive steps to preserve records, including:

  • Limiting access - material must stay in the archival reading room. Records cannot be checked out or leave the archives.
  • Managing the environment - we have a dedicated heating and cooling system optimized for paper storage.  We don't allow food or drink in the archives and ask that researchers only use pencils while working with archival resources.
  • Storing records appropriately - we rehouse materials into acid free boxes and folders when possible.

These policies all stem from the purpose and nature of archives - that we hold records of lasting historical value - and that the vast majority of our collections are unique and irreplaceable.

Provide Access

Lastly, the most critical part of my work is to provide access to the records. Without access, an archive would just be a collection of old stuff and an archivist would just be a hoarder. Supporting and providing access to records is my main focus. We do this in many ways, including:

  • Creating exhibits,
  • Building digital collections,
  • Supporting researchers.

You can learn more about using archival resources in the next section.