Thursday, April 29, 2010

A New Era of Responsibility

...A book which has come across my desk has this title. Which reminded me that I haven't posted on this blog since I was 7.5 months pregnant. Well, now our daughter is almost 15 months, I'm working a little bit again, and for the love of God, surely I can get myself back into the world of blogging about organizing information. Right?
So, in that vein, I want to write some about a project I was recently involved with. Since I am not working full time any longer, I took on a side project, archiving the personal papers of a successful businessman here in town. His dad was very famous as a businessman, as well, and some of his papers were also included in this job. The total amount was probably 20 linear feet or so.

The interesting thing about this project was how basically different it FELT than the professional archivist jobs I've had. I went to their (very large and well-appointed) home once a week, and worked out of their dining room. His wife would periodically come in, not to check on me, but to relate some historical factoid, or to show me something that she found, or to ask if she framed something correctly. Your own personal archivist! And, I found I did not have the same kind of mental freedom that I had while working in an institution. If I found something in a collection that I knew was superfluous and common, like, say, an envelope with no letter and no address, I could put it in a stack of things to get rid of. Not so with these papers, because the owner was working in his office down the hall, and he was a pack rat, and when I showed it to him, he'd say "we should keep it, I suppose."

It's interesting to be able to go to the creator and say "what is this? what were you doing at this time?" instead of just having to guess and research.

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"Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness." —Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril.