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May 25 2012

The end is here

By: Emily Walters

I can’t quite believe that the end is here.  This is where we started.  Remember?  At the same time that feels like years and years ago and just a minute ago.  It’s funny how that happens.

A lot has happened in two years.  We’ve processed 49 collections totaling 2,425 linear feet and 116 gigabytes.  We’ve employed 11 fantastic undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate students.  (See here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)  We’ve worked a lot of hours…something to the tune of 3,701.50.  We’ve presented our info at several conferences.  We’ve done a lot in two years.

I’ve enjoyed serving as project manager for this Changing the Landscape project.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with my fantastic staff here on the project and in Special Collections and North Carolina State University Libraries at large.  I appreciate each comment and each conversation we’ve had here and on Twitter.  Thank you for encouraging us as we have worked our way through these two years.  I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have.

For now, so long.

This blog will remain live on the Libraries’ website, but we won’t be updating it any longer.  Comments have been disabled, but we hope that you will be in touch.

By: Emily Walters

If you follow us on Twitter, you know that the best of plans went awry last week.  I’d planned to talk about the cost analysis piece of this project, but the recent discovery of Archie Royal Davis drawings interrupted that plan.  (By the way, there recently updated collection guide is now available.)  We’re back on schedule this week with information about our cost analysis as well as information about our final list of collections processed.

When we last left this subject we were talking about supplies.  I showed you this final tally of supplies used over the course of the project.

Those of you who are familiar with purchasing archival supplies know that they are anything but cheap.  It’s actually pretty incredible how much supplies cost.  As I updated the spreadsheet of supply costs over the last couple of weeks I was astounded to find that the cost of supplies has gone up greatly even in the last two years.  All this to say, I think we should all get into the supply business!

I created this spreadsheet to keep track of the cost per item as well as the vendor and additional information about products (for example, when the cost of a product varies due to quantity).  I threw those numbers into my supply spreadsheet and did a bit of simple plug-n-chug math, coming up with the following information.

I knew that supplies were expensive, but I’ll admit, that number floored me.  And that’s just our supplies.  That doesn’t include our storage costs and our personnel costs.  Storage costs are where it really gets complicated.  Architectural drawing storage units are costly and highly customizable so it is impossible to apply a fixed cost.  And, because each institution uses and pays for space in different ways, determining a cost per square foot is nearly impossible.  This considerably limits our cost analysis, but hopefully the information about supplies and personnel will be helpful for folks contemplating collecting, describing and preserving architectural records.

If you’ve followed our blog for any amount of time, you are aware that we are capturing timing data for this project.  Again, using simple math, I calculated the cost of personnel.  It should be noted that this data only includes those original tasks we collected data for.  This doesn’t include any time spent in meetings or time spent doing tasks other than processing.  It should also be noted that this doesn’t include my time.  I think that this is a failing of this project.  I wish I’d tracked my time more closely, but that just didn’t happen.  But here’s the information that we do have.

So we’ve been shouting it from the rooftops – we’ve processed collections!  Indeed.  In the past two years, we’ve processed 47 collections, totaling 2324 linear feet.  So let’s do a little more math (math, it should be noted, isn’t my strong suit and isn’t why I went into the archival field).

If we add the amount we spent on supplies and the amount we spent on personnel and divide that total by the linear feet processed under the grant, we can find the average cost per linear foot, a number we’ve been really interested in calculating for large, architecture collections.

So there you have it.  That’s our brief cost analysis of the work that we’ve done in the past two years.  This kind of data is so useful in managing both financial resources as well managing both time and staff.  Hopefully others can find use from this as well.

Okay, okay.  Get ready.  Next week is our last week in this space.  We’ve made the decision to keep this space live after the end of the project, but comments will be disabled and it will not be updated.  Be sure to follow us on Twitter for up to the minute dispatches on the end of the project.  We’ll see you next week!

By: Emily Walters

This post was contributed by Danica who is back with us for our final weeks of the project.

This week I spent a couple of days processing a small number of recently discovered additions to the Archie Royal Davis Papers, a collection I worked on along with Emily Walters and Claire Ruswick during our years as Library Associates! (Nearly three years ago!) The additional materials include sketches and blueprints that add to the story of Davis’ architectural contributions to North Carolina. Among the drawings are churches, schools, businesses and residences from all over North Carolina as well as several examples of his work at UNC-Chapel Hill, such as Morehead Planetarium. The updated finding aid will be available sometime next week! Stay tuned to Twitter for details!

By: Emily Walters

It’s hard to believe, but the end is near.  Changing the Landscape started two years ago next Thursday.  I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Library and Information Science on Sunday morning and started this position on Monday morning.  I distinctly remember two years seeming like quite a stretch of time.  Fellow grant-librarians assured me that two-year projects slip by, but it felt impossible to believe.  Well, two years later, let me assure you – I am a believer.

During this two-year project we’ve employed 11 students, processed 47 collections (comprising 2400 linear feet and 116 gigabytes), worked thousands of hours, timed the time it takes to time.  And now we’re nearly finished.

Over the course of this final month, I’ll use this space to offer a few thoughts about different facets of the project.  Today I’m going to talk about the supplies that we used.  Next week I’ll build on this supply information and add some information about the timing study.  The following week I’ll talk about the collections we processed.  The last week…well.  I guess we’ll just bid you all farewell at that point.  But enough about what’s to come!  Let’s talk about supplies!

To begin, the supplies that are required to process archival architectural collections are big.  Everything about them is big.  The supplies themselves are big: big folders, big tubes.  The amount of room it takes to stores supplies – big.  And of course, the cost of these supplies?  Very big.

Space is an incredibly important piece to this processing puzzle.  The supplies take up a lot of room.  You may remember these shots from early on in the project.  We went through countless pallets of tubes and flat folders.  Additionally, the space required to use these supplies during processing is not insignificant.  As any archivist that has processed materials at a typical office desk space knows, you need more room than that.  This is especially true for processing architectural collections.  Space is important.

I threw together a quick spreadsheet to calculate the amount of supplies that we’ve used in the last two years.  The numbers are pretty mind-boggling.  Thousands of tubes, thousands of flat folders and nearly a thousand document cases.  Thousands.  I’m pretty astounded.

That’s just a brief snap shot of supplies.  Come back next week when we build on this information and include timing information for a further cost analysis of this project.

See you next Friday.  Have a great week!

By: Emily Walters

This post was contributed by Tish.

We are just about to wrap up the Changing the Landscape project but before we close up shop we are working on one further collection, the Gordon Schenck Photographic Collection (MC 00404). Schenck, a Greensboro native who lived most of his life in Charlotte, was a professional architectural photographer. He worked for corporations, architectural firms, and magazines creating images of businesses and homes throughout the South. For instance, Schenck photographed dozens of Belk Department Stores, documenting the company’s mid-20th-century expansion. The Belk images represent a key contribution of the Schenck collection: unlike other collections composed of blueprints, which offered potential changes to the landscapes, Schenck’s images show us how the American South actually changed during the twentieth century.

The Schenck collection is composed of an array of photographic formats. There are plenty of prints, slides, and negatives of various sizes as well as numerous transparencies and magazines featuring Schenck’s work. Right now, we are spending our time sorting out the different formats and rehousing them in archival boxes. It is a huge collection and we will not get through the whole thing before the end of Changing the Landscape project. So, we will be passing the torch to the rest of the NCSU technical services team to finish up. We hope that this valuable collection will be available for use very soon!

By: Emily Walters

I am spending much of my time these days tying up loose ends on our project.  With a scant six weeks remaining (!) I want to make sure we dot all of our Is and cross all of our Ts.  I came across notes about a couple of collections we’ve processed and wanted to make sure that you knew about these collections.  As always, you can find a complete list of our processed collections here.  It’s been updated since I last wrote about it here.

Brian Shawcroft is a Modernist architect who is recognized for designing much of the modernist home inventory in and around the area of Raleigh, where we are located. In addition to residences, Shawcroft designed civic, commercial, and other buildings, such as schools and churches.

So what is modern architecture? According to the U.S. General Services Administration’s Growth, Efficiency, and Modernism publication, modernist architecture follows the notion that “Form follows function” and is commonly characterized by simplicity, clarity of forms, and elimination of unnecessary detail.

Through processing the Shawcroft Papers, I had the opportunity to see firsthand the process of the designs, constructions, and redesigns of such works through process (or design) drawings and construction documents: site plans, additions, alterations, and remodeling plans.

To give you a little background on Shawcroft himself, Shawcroft was born in 1929. He grew up in England and studied architecture at the South West Essex Technical College and School of Art in London.  Following, traveled to the States to continue his studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received a Masters degree in Architecture. Shawcroft practiced architecture professionally independently and in various firms (Holloway-Reeves, Architects, MacMillian, MacMillan, Shawcroft & Thames, Environmental Planning Associates, and Shawcroft-Taylor), concentrating in North Carolina.  Additionally, Shawcroft served as an associate professor and lecturer in architecture at NCSU and the College of Design, formerly School of Design from 1960 to 1968. Shawcroft maintains his ties with NCSU by funding an annual Shawcroft Award, given architecture student for superior hand drawing skills.

Most of Shawcroft’s projects were built in the Triangle area of North Carolina, which includes Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. It was interesting to recognize some of the buildings Shawcroft and his associate firms designed, particularly buildings at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I am currently attending. It was also interesting to compare these works to those of previous landscape architects from collections I processed earlier (Gill Wheless and Lewis Clarke). By quick glance, the “Form follows function” notion is apparent in Shawcroft’s drawings. Drawings at large are characterized by horizontal and vertical lines, and do appear less detailed and to possess simplicity and clarity of forms. You can come see for yourself – Check out the Brian Shawcroft Papers at Satellite. In addition to drawings, the collection includes some photographs, sildes, and photographic printout reproductions which provides a visual picture of completed projects. You can take a look at the completed finding aid here!

That blurb was contributed by Jay.

Edward Walter R Waugh was born in South Africa in 1913. In 1931, he attended Houghton College in Johannesburg and later entered the University of Edinburgh Schools of Engineering and Architecture. In 1948, Waugh taught at the University of Oklahoma, recruited by dean Henry Leveke Kamphoefner. Kamphoefner was later appointed the dean of School of Design (now called College of Design) at North Carolina State University. Kamphoefner recruited Waugh along with other respective colleagues to teach at the school. Waugh taught at NCSU from 1948 to 1951, where the following year he opened up his own firm, Edward Waugh and Associates. In 1957, Waugh became the campus planner for NCSU.  You can take a look at the completed finding aid here!

That blurb was contributed by Edric.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look inside two of our 47 processed collections!  Have a great weekend!  We’ll see you next week!

Apr 13 2012

Timing Study Update

By: Emily Walters

At the beginning of the project we told you that we planned to time all of our activities.  I told you that we were even timing the amount of time it takes to time.  And we did.  We timed and timed and timed.  That doesn’t actually cover the full extent of our posts on the timing study.  I went through our archives and added a “timing study” tag to all the posts that report on the timing study component of the project so by clicking on the “timing study” tag, all posts are handily grouped together for your viewing convenience.

Look a little bit closer…


There we go!

Some of our more astute followers may have noticed a lack of timing study updates in 2012.  That’s due to a couple of factors.  First of all, in this new year, our work force has significantly dropped.  We’re only employing two folks after record high numbers last summer.  Despite their amazing efforts, it doesn’t make for very interesting updates.  The numbers just inch upwards.  And secondly, now that we are in the final stretch of this project, much of what we are doing is focused on tasks that aren’t timing tasks.  I know, I know.  I bet you thought we timed everything.  And we do, but only when it comes to processing.  As a reminder, here’s what we’re timing:

• Collection Review and Processing Planning

• Rearranging

• Preservation Tasks (Misc.) – such as sleeving, removing paperclips when necessary, etc.

• Description

• Refoldering
(drawings and papers)

• Reboxing

• Barcoding and Labeling

• Project Tracking

Today I do have an update for you on our latest collection, the Gordon Schenck Photograph collection.  Because of this collection, I recently added Rehousing Photographic Materials to our list of tracking tasks. We currently have one student working on this project and she is working her way through boxes of transparencies and negatives.  Based on some preliminary counting, we’re estimating that each box contains over 7,500 images.  Suffice it to say, each box is taking awhile.

Our timing data has been useful, though I’m not sure that I could use it to conclusively predict how long a unknown, future collection would take to process.  It is helpful to have a baseline for how long it’s taken to process the collections we’ve worked on during the course of this project.  I have and will continue to rely on this data for the cost analysis.

My guess is that the next CLIR grant project will also track time in some way and they might even use the same database that we’ve used.  I think combining projects and testing the database with different kinds of collections will only make the data more robust in the future.

So that’s a little bit about what we’ve been timing and where will go from here.  We have the data, we’re using it for the cost analysis, and we hope that other processors in the Special Collections Research Center will continue to use the database in the hope that in the future we’ll have fantastic data on the time it takes to process all sorts of collections.

Thanks for reading, folks.  Happy weekending!

By: Emily Walters

I promise this will be our last SNCA post.  It’s been all SNCA, all the time around here.  Tune in next Friday when we get back to our regularly scheduled programming.

I had a lovely time at SNCA.  It was my first time visiting University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  What a gorgeous campus!  I really enjoyed my time walking around campus and eating at local eateries such as the Boba House and the Iron Hen.

The sessions I attended were very good.  I heard a great opening talk by Kate Theimer on the future of archives.  Thursday afternoon saw fantastic presentations on crowdsourcing and copyright.  I particularly enjoyed hearing about the amazing lengths that staff at Duke’s Hartman Center went to establish the copyright owner.

Thursday night I attended the dessert reception and the awards ceremony at the Greensboro Historical Museum.  I’m thrilled to report that my supervisor, Linda Sellars, won the prestigious Thorton W. Mitchell Service Award.  Truly, no one is more deserving.

Friday morning I was able to catch Ralph Ganis’ talk on Jesse James before setting up for my presentation.  I survived.  My colleagues did a fantastic job presenting their work.  A special shout out to Genya and Kristen for putting together such an excellent session and allowing me to join in the fun.  We had a good time and celebrated with lunch afterward.

Presenting on our work is always a mix of nervousness and excitement.  I like sharing about our project and the work that we are doing, but doing so with PowerPoint slides, in front of lots of strangers makes me a bit weak-kneed.  So it was with a mix of sadness and gratitude that I presented my last professional talk on our Changing the Landscape project.

I’m attaching my slides for you to peruse, if you’re interested.  If you’re in the North Carolina-area, I would strongly recommend that you attend a SNCA meeting.  You won’t be disappointed.

To follow the conversation around SNCA, you can check out #SNCA12 on Twitter.

Mar 30 2012

See you next week!

By: Emily Walters

Hey folks,

We’re at the Society of North Carolina Archivists’ annual meeting this week.  We’ll be back next week with a full report!  See you then!

By: Emily Walters

The Society of North Carolina Archivist will hold their annual meeting next week in Greensboro, North Carolina.  Our project will be well represented so you should attend!  If you are interested in attending, today is the final day to register online.  Onsite registration will be available.

I will be presenting on the outreach we’ve done as a part of this project.  I’ll be presenting with two fantastic colleagues and we’ll each talk about the ways that we are trying to reach our users.  Here’s our official blurb:

Targeted engagement is more essential than ever to archives, particularly in times of reduced resources. As part of the Special Collections Research Center’s efforts to engage new and diverse audiences, this presentation highlights three innovative approaches to programming and outreach that foster greater public awareness of materials and provide roadmaps for building new partnerships. All three projects creatively utilize technology to enhance collections and strengthen collaborations with diverse user communities.

We’ll be in the Claxton Room of the Elliot University Center (at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro) at 11:00.  I’d love to see you there!  Come with all of your outreach questions!

Our grad student Carie will be presenting a poster entitled “Metadata Reuse: Possibilities for End Users.”  Her poster is going to be fantastic.  Check out her blurb:

Based on Jenn Riley and Kelcy Shepherd’s 2009 article, “A Brave New World: Archivists and Shareable Descriptive Metadata,” I began experimenting with reusing archival metadata to create alternative visualizations of manuscript collection information. Riley and Shepherd claim that open access to descriptive metadata benefits end users. For example, “[r]ecords with a geographic component, such as architectural records, could be plotted on historic or contemporary maps and integrated into services such as Google Earth” (94). As an illustration of this argument, my poster will display my reuse into a Google Map the architectural collection metadata originally gathered at North Carolina State University’s Special Collections Research Center for EAD finding aids. My poster will also explain my process and the tools used (Google Refine and Google Fusion Tables). My map displays information on multiple architects’ projects, therefore illustrating relationships among NCSU’s collections that are not apparent through their finding aids alone.

Posters will be available for viewing between 10:15 and 11:00 on Friday.

We’ll be back with a full report post-SNCA.  We hope to see you there!!