SPEC Kit 333: Art & Artifact Management  · 59
I love working in this collection. It is more frustrating than dissatisfying. Our patrons would find so much more of
relevance to their research if the collection were adequately inventoried, fully managed and digitized. For my part, I am
working on identifying and describing broad groups of materials--whether archival series of photographs, or categories
of art works and artifacts--and then working down to folder or item levels as much possible, using Excel spreadsheets
in the hope of being able to upload them into a comprehensive collection management system. I am an “organization
and content” person but need technical support. Our art and artifacts collection is of equal value to and complements
the books and archival collections but it is not given equal treatment with regard to software. I have a clear idea of
where we need to go, and how the collection could look on the web, but very little chance of getting there or initiating
discussion within the library on how to integrate the three types of system! I have been searching for other academic
libraries that use or have tried to use a museums collections management system parallel to bibliographic and archives
software and would like to join a discussion group is there is one available.
I think we are doing this in the most rudimentary way.
I’m afraid I don’t really have any further comments we are, basically, a standard music and performing arts library
with printed and audio/visual materials.
In most cases, art objects have come to us as part of an archival collection. They are not items we have sought to
collect. They are valuable in that context. Some pieces have value extrinsic to the collection of which they are part.
Artifact mostly come to us as part of an archival collection but in the case of photographs, the digitization and
description of them raise the profile and attract donations of related collections of photographs. That is the rare example
of acquiring a collection of artifacts that is not part of a mixed archival collection.
Lack of adequate space to process and store large items is a huge challenge.
Most artifacts are within large collections and remain unidentified and uncataloged in any form.
Most of our artifacts are related to the university’s history. We are not systematically building a collection of artifacts
(with the exception of architectural records and drawings). The library does own a few art objects, but these are
primarily decorative. We do not systematically collect art objects.
Our current strategy involves drawing on the willingness and knowledge of volunteers who were connected with the
museum before it closed. Successfully taking advantage of these qualities will involve a high degree of diplomacy,
planning and coordination. Bringing in someone who can coordinate volunteers, library staff, etc. will be crucial to
making this work.
Our expertise is music rather than art; so many prints and other artworks are not adequately described.
Ours has been a slap-dash approach and trying to keep our head above water. Managing art objects is/has been
secondary after traditional book/serial processing.
Privilege (and expectation) of multiple aspects for each staff member’s work means that everyone multi-tasks and no
one has collection management as his/her primary responsibility. We do not have dedicated catalogers or preservation
people.
The Center has an extensive travelling exhibitions and loans program. In the currently fiscal year we have already
shipped 297 photographs to eight museums in the US and Europe. The staff includes 2 FT curators, 3 FT professional
registrars plus an exhibits designer/senior preparator and two registration assistants. 5,000 SF exhibition gallery where
the curators present three exhibitions annually drawn from the Center’s collections.
The history collections at the health sciences library is basically a paper-based collection, so dealing with art and
artifacts prove to be a challenge. We do not have good storage for these items, although the area does have fairly
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