First Day as an Archivist

I spent this morning doing research on records retention policies for non-profits and eventually realized that I’ll end up writing a records management guide for the local YWCA chapter before it’s over. I then went to lunch with my practicum supervisor who is all kinds of amazing. She’s very supportive of me and genuinely interested in what I’m doing with my career. I’m going to become a strong librarian thanks to the support of my mentors like her.

Greensboro, NC

Greensboro, NC

The above photo was taken while waiting for the executive director to arrive. I watched an officer talk to several people telling them the parking lot was closed because of some sort of festival that was being set up in the grounds behind the lot. The executive director and him spoke for a long moment while I stashed my book back in my bag (a book on writing!). When she got to me, we walked up up the long entrance way and she pointed out that the trash that was laying around was from homeless people who weather storms under the walkway.

We walked through the building and in some ways it reminded me vaguely of Sweet Juniper’s posts about abandoned buildings in Detroit. When we went upstairs, there was no light, so we walked up with the aid of the handrail and the tops of the faintly illuminated stair. We spent most of our time in one room going through a closet’s worth of boxes. While the director sat going intensively through one box and organizing it into several piles, I made folder lists of the remaining boxes. She told me that there was no particular order to why the items were group together since they had been shoved in the boxes prior to the move. I talked a bit about historical vs. financial vs. administrative type of records. My favorite part was finding some Y-Matrons directories from the 1960s. They looked like they were in brand new condition.

We then wandered from room to room taking a quicker inventory of the remaining offices. Most of the things in those rooms are ready to be destroyed and some of boxes were even labeled with “destroy by dates” that had long-since passed. As we were leaving she wondered aloud if anyone could possibly want to see lists of who the former employees were. I told her that there might be legal issues with that since those records are from within the last few decades.

So, the next tasks are to come in and remove the boxes which are obviously ready to be destroyed then move the promising ones to the new facility (with a/c! I was turning into a puddle on the ground in the direct, broad sunlight from the two floor to ceiling windows!) where I can go over them more at a leisurely pace. I also need to work with their IT person to see if we can get OMEKA running or if I should push for a pro Flickr account as ways to share the archives with the public. As well, I need to convince them that a 3-in-1 machine is not going to create archival (or even just HQ) copies of their documents!

Non-Profit Records Retention Policies

As part of my job as the new (volunteer) archivist for the local YWCA, I need to create a records retention plan for the non-profit. None of the sources below are guaranteed to be of use or practical for your organization. I share them with the hope of giving you a starting point for your own organization.

North Carolina Law on Records

A corporation shall keep as permanent records minutes of all meetings of its members and board of directors, a record of all actions taken by the members or directors without a meeting pursuant to G.S. 55A?7?04, 55A?7?08, or 55A?8?21, and a record of all actions taken by committees of the board of directors in place of the board of directors on behalf of the corporation.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Resources Fiscal Non-Profit Administration Records Retention

Maintain and archive all appropriate records about operations (e.g., financial records, significant contracts, real estate and other major transactions, employment files, fundraising obligations, etc.).

Council of Non-Profits Document Retention Policies

For instance, for nonprofits serving minor children, it is generally wise for the nonprofit to maintain case files at least until the child reaches majority age plus the time period for a claim to be filed.

Records Retention Guidelines
These guidelines provides you with bare bones but easy to understand guides on how long to retain paperwork.

Final Archives Class

Tonight was my final Introduction to Archives class. Looking back over the semester, the readings really influenced me that I am much more comfortable in the standardization rich world of libraries. As well, libraries seem to adapt to change and adopt technology and organization much swifter than archives do.

My poster was not that amazing since I did not wish to spend $40 on printing something out again, my printer only posses a black ink cartridge, and frankly, I was not too inspired by my topic of automation. Originally, I had wanted to do a study on archival management software, but when I discovered that two of the heavy weights (Archon and Archivists’ Toolkit) are merging, that wiped out much of my arguments. The paper would have ended with “but…the differences are going to be merged into one system…” I went with automation so I could keep some of my resources I had gathered for the software paper.

The near-disaster of the night was right before I was to leave, my super long-haired cat hopped on the table. I quickly realized she had had an accident and required an immediate bath. Twenty minutes later, she was clean again and class was starting and it would be half an hour before I would walk into the room. This strung out my nerves so I was a bit stand-offish until I gathered my wits about me. Fortunately, my teacher did not yell at me for being so late. As for the mischievous cat, she was all purrs when I returned home!