The Evolving and Eclectic Collection Processing Project

Our most recent Research Scholar, Nicole Gammie, may go down in the annals of CSURA as the scholar who processed the most collections in the shortest period of time.

The aim of the annual scholarship is two-fold: the promotion of the CSU Regional Archives collection and the provision of a practical work experience opportunity for a CSU student proposing to make a career as an information professional.

Nicole undertook the CSURA & School of Information Studies Scholarship between September and December 2016. Rather than focusing on a single collection as most of our Research Scholars have done in the past, Nicole processed eleven collections of varying sizes, all of which are now neatly boxed up and listed in our database.

Because of her training and experience in the field of environmental science, the first collections chosen for Nicole to work on were the records of the Wagga Wagga Urban Landcare Group, the Agricultural Bureau of NSW, and the Rural Youth Organisation of NSW. But we soon broadened the scope and added collections from groups, offices and individuals such as the Wagga Wagga Art Society, Beryl Ingold, the Letona Cannery, the Mitchell College Academic Staff Union, and CSU Media.

Shopping for Letona canned fruit.
Letona products on sale in a supermarket, c.1960 [from the Letona Cooperative Cannery collection RW3241].
Overall, Nicole worked through 155 type one boxes, 5 A2 boxes and 4 photograph albums. In contrast, 75 type one boxes, 11 photograph albums, 1 A2 box and the contents of 1 map drawer were returned to the shelves in the repository. She entered 1700 new items into our database and removed 8.1m of paper (not to mention the multiple bags of staples, paper clips and pins).

“Overall, it was a great and really practical opportunity and there was the chance to do things several times over with each new collection.  For example, going through the collections and discarding items that don’t tell the organisation’s story or add value to the story (such as blank funding application forms or really old bank statements), then trying to determine a logical order for the collection based on what it contains and listing the items with enough detail so they can be found later.”

Nicole even taught the rest of us a thing or two while she was here. One of her challenges was the safe removal of photographs from a self adhesive album (“a sticky album”). She pointed us in the direction of a video from the Smithsonian Institute which made an interesting recommendation – dental floss! It worked spectacularly well.

Nicole’s final report (The Evolving and Eclectic Collection Processing Project) and powerpoint presentation can be found on our Research Scholarships page.

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