This post is contributed by Ashley Williams, Project Archivist, Animal Rights and Animal Welfare Collections.
Our processing area at Satellite has had a makeover! If you’re like most people at NCSU, you’re probably asking yourself –“what’s a Satellite?” and “what kind of processing?”
Satellite, or the NCSU Libraries’ Satellite Shelving Facility, is the building where some of the Special Collections Research Center’s materials are stored, and is also where many of these materials are arranged and described, or processed. Processing archival collections involves sorting and organizing them, moving papers into acid-free folders and boxes for long-term preservation, and creating written guides that will be published on the web to enable researchers to find and use the materials.
When our project to process collections relating to animal rights and animal welfare began in August 2012, a processing work space was created in the back of the building, where supplies and some large drawings were being stored. As is often the case with grant-funded projects, we were adapting a space that was not designed for us. Setting up an office partition to differentiate our processing area from the storage space and bookshelves to store the collection as we worked on it gave us space in which to work, but we were in a different part of the building from other staff and around the corner from our computers.
In 2013, we were able to move our processing space to the front of Satellite and move the map cases located there to the back. The move happened on December 18, and the first week in January, I got to see it for myself. As a processing archivist, I was thrilled.
So what does this new processing space mean? Processors working in the space appreciate its spaciousness and the natural lighting, but most importantly, the improved space means more processing can take place. Four people are now able to work comfortably at the tables, each with plenty of space to spread out their work. For example, there are three project archivists who are working on related collections. Because we are now physically close to one another it becomes easier to ask a question or take a quick look at a document or file folder without having to go to a separate area in the building or take a project archivist away from her work. The space now has an organic feel where people are not sectioned off in individual bubbles, but rather work in a collaborative environment. Everyone has space, but that space is not rigid. Some days, your materials may take up more space, and other days less.
The new space also means we are located only a rolling-chair-push away from the computer. Now we can work on finding aids more easily, or, as has been the case with animal rights, look up a definition to a word associated with the collection that is being processed. Archival supplies and collection materials are easily accessible, but more importantly, the new processing space allows us easy access to other staff members who we can bounce ideas off of or consult with on an issue as it arises. Natural lighting, more space, and a collaborative work environment make the new processing area at Satellite a welcoming space for staff and visitors alike.