Week Two: “…but those swatches will live on forever”

This week was filled with boxes stuffed with proposals, applications for construction funds, and the many working parts that comes with the construction or remodel/update of a library. Going through these boxes, over a dozen this week alone, really brought home the idea that libraries don’t just spring up because someone thinks it would be beneficial to have one built. There are a lot of moving parts to consider: the focused community’s need for a library, funds for construction (and how to obtain them), various forms of insurance, zoning and fire codes to follow, flood precautions (this is a huge consideration on its own, especially in Mississippi), interviews and payroll for construction workers, funds for furniture, and many, many more things that I haven’t even considered. Each detail must be decided – right down to the upholstery.

It seems they were not fans of the blue/red scheme

Businesses are tasked with keeping records for a certain amount of time. It turns out that anything that is in regards to, or related to, the construction of Mississippi libraries has to be kept and stored by the Mississippi Library Commission indefinitely. It was explained to me as: we will all pass on one day, but those swatches will live on forever.

I found a handful of architectural/construction stereotypes, or stereoplates, for proposed libraries and remodels within the folders and boxes. Stereotypes are printed plates created in relief and used for printing. Given the other meaning of the word ‘stereotype,’ it was awkward at first to find information about these. I found this blog that provides a brief history of stereotypes: The Printed & The Built.

Stereotype for Fulton Library
Stereotype for Yazoo City Library

Due to age, many folders are missing their labels, so I get to determine what a folder contains and label the folder appropriately. It seemed intimidating at first, as I am still learning and training. Some folders are easier to label than other. For example, it will not be hard to title a folder if it is filled with payroll forms for the construction of a certain library. But, others are a bit more nebulous, so determining what library the folder is for or what the main focus of the folder is requires some digging. Additionally, there are folders filled with a great amount of ephemera, but at times are no details or determining factors to point out which library the items are from or what their date of creation is, thus making it difficult to determine when or where a particular event or photograph took place. At times, the photographs provide the missing evidence I need.

On Friday, I found a box containing a folder regarding libraries in Appalachian areas in Mississippi. I had no idea such an area existed. Sadly, according to the correspondence I found, this area is one of the most disadvantaged areas in the nation. The documents discuss funds specifically set aside for new and current libraries in these areas and how they are to be used to help improve service and assistance to the Appalachian area residents.

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Week One: Treasure Trove

Hello! My name is Rose and I am currently working on my masters in Library and Information Science and a graduate certificate in archives and special collections at the University of Southern Mississippi. Let me welcome you to my informal weekly blog about my experiences during my archival practicum. The practicum acts as a micro hands-on experience in the field before graduating. The facility hosting my practicum is the Mississippi Library Commission located in Jackson, Mississippi. I’ll be working closely with Miranda Vaughn, reference and archives librarian. Miranda is very enthusiastic about me assisting her. In fact, I’m her first intern/assistant. What an honor!

I had never seen an old telegram before, this was really neat.

In addition to assisting and learning from Miranda, my main duty will be to organize and create a finding aid for the County Library Archives files, over a hundred boxes of various files, correspondence, blueprints, and photographs detailing the construction, remodels, events, and publicity of various libraries in Mississippi. The Mississippi Library Commission, or MLC, is in charge of archiving and storing these items, but, during the many moves of MLC, files are not quite in the same order as they were before or were perhaps dumped into whatever moving boxes were available. What’s written on the outside of the box is not necessarily what’s inside the box. Nearly every box is a surprising treasure trove to dig through. Once the finding aid is complete and the boxes have been documented, various items, especially the photographs, will be digitized.

One of the main goals of organizing the County Library Archives files, or CLA files, is moving the articles out of standard cardboard moving boxes to Gaylord archival quality boxes. However, I have been expressly told not to remove paperclips or staples. On one hand, I can understand not removing the paperclips or staples as the removal may damage the paper underneath. But on the other hand, you can see where some paperclips and staples have begun eating away at the paper. Some documents were stored in Acco binders, which have already begun to fade and turn, bleeding into the documents and photos contained within.

I was told that I was welcome to make recommendations as I worked through the boxes. My recommendations so far are: to purchase sleeves for the tons of negatives found, move items to archival quality folders as the folders they are currently stored in are bleeding or fading, and remove newspaper articles and scan them for digitization.

At one point this week, I found some empty badge holders. They are clear plastic with metal pins on the back. Miranda and I determined that they didn’t carry any significance and there were no discerning features about them and I did not find the paper badges within the folder, or even the box, they were found in. We removed them from the box not only because there seemed to be no archival significance to them, but also for safety sake. Not only would the metal have begun to turn at some point, but also one of the badges’ pins wasn’t closed all of the way and could have injured anyone reaching into the box unknowingly. I’m surprised that I didn’t injure myself when I found them.

Can’t wait to see what I find next week!


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