66 · Survey Results: Survey Questions and Responses
the nature of how individuals and groups are connected to the story of Pan Am Flight 103. Moving further away from
December 21, 1988, creates a new challenge of maintaining the immediacy of the Archives, particularly for a generation
of students who were yet-to-be born at the time of the bombing.
49. Please enter any additional information that may assist others in understanding your library’s
experience managing community-based collections, or what you would tell other libraries
preparing to acquire a community-based collection. N=13
As noted at the outset, Penn has worked with several community-based organizations in the past to provide homes to
organizations’ archival record. It is a balancing act. There is a community need for homes for potential collections and
records that may be orphaned as organizations, like individuals, try to manage their institutional histories. Providing
solutions to community-base organizations are both a potential boon for researchers and members, but a challenge for
institutions, like Penn.
Assess your library’s ability (staff time, space, etc.) to preserve and make available the collection. Have a clear idea of
how the collection will fit your collecting policy.
Be ready for challenges around staffing, space, funding, grants, and the ability to please the needs of the collection,
its community, and the library in which you are currently employed. Juggling it all is very difficult. I see and feel all
these issues very acutely because I am a one-person operation and this is only part of my job. I came into the position
not knowing that I was the archivist for records for churches in each city in the five states that comprise the New
England Annual Conference. The challenge is to do my job as archivist for the New England Annual Conference, my
job as archivist for the Boston University School of Theology, and as a special collections librarian to the students and
researchers in need of research help from me. Setting up a personnel structure that works has been helpful. I don’t
process collections, but teach students how to properly handle and organize collections. Determining what you can let
go of, and have someone else do, is what needs to happen first. Then comes additional planning around other tasks.
And finally, or perhaps, this should be done prior to all other planning, securing funds and resources for the collections.
I thankfully have in place something that works thanks to those who donate to the New England United Methodist
Historical Society. If not for them, I would not have an operations budget for staffing, travel, and supplies.
Before accepting the responsibility of archiving the history and contributions of an active, living community, be prepared
to a) make concurrent investments in staff expertise b) think careful about costs and sustainability of these efforts
long term, and whether the resources of your institution will meet the community’s expectations c) include and
consult community members a various levels, remaining open and flexible to expanding or countering traditional library
procedures and practices.
In our project, the rewards have far outweighed the issues.
It is very satisfying working with community-based collections. They benefit users and researchers, as well as the larger
community. They document a very important element of our shared past and history.
It’s rewarding, but time-consuming. Community groups can have a different expectation for what should be collected.
Funding issues need to be sorted out (which organization gets funding, how much, for what purposes, etc.)
Just do it! It’s an extremely rewarding experience and gets the library/university into the community.
Just that it is a sacred responsibility that consumes many.
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