Visit an Archives
For my visit an archives assignment I toured the Stanford University archives, which is composed of three main divisions: Special collections, rare books, and the university archives. My tour guide was Daniel Hartwig, who is one of the university’s archivists. During my tour I saw the area where rare books are shelved, the lab where media such as cassette tapes are digitized, and also the room where materials are stored until they are sent to the archive’s off-site storage facility. Hartwig estimates that roughly 95-99% of the archive’s collection, which when put together measures roughly 30,000 linear feet and is composed mostly of paper documents, is located at their off-site facility. The items that remain at the archives on the Stanford campus are heavy-use items and items that are very fragile, because they would be put at extra risk by transportation. Some of the really neat items to be found at the archives include the Eadweard Muybridge photos of a horse in motion that contributed greatly to motion picture technique as well as some of Charles Darwin’s original books (these are locked inside of display cabinets). In addition to the off-site storage facility, there is also a technical services, processing and cataloging facility located in Redwood City. I thought it might be a challenge for the archives to have so much of their collection off-site and also their processing staff and materials as well, but Hartwig said the process for transporting items has been streamlined to such an extent that it is not actually much of a bother. Among the three sites and multiple departments, the archives averages between 15-20 staff, who all work roughly the same hours, which is manageable for the operation and maintenance of the collections but Hartwig wishes there was more money for increased staff. A lot of the funding for staff positions comes via grants, which pay for positions for two to three years at a time.
The archive’s patrons are fairly evenly split between two groups: The students/faculty, who use the facility during the school year, and the More