Walk the vaults!

Lastly, one major step this year was the opportunity to re-establish the summer fellowship program between the RAC and the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation in Rochester, NY. This educational program—along with NYU’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation (MIAP) program – can help repositories by providing excellent “future” archivists eager to assist in a “real world” setting.

One primary accomplishment of our 2017 Selznick fellow came with the assistance provided me in terms of an item-level film vault  check wherein we:

  • Verified material and shelf locations
  • Checked elements for level of inspection
  • Identified an element’s future needs
  • Inspected unprocessed and damaged material
  • Evaluated needs for long-term storage
  • Identified future projects

I cannot stress the importance of physically spending time with your collections – and opening those boxes or film cans – both to get a true sense of the material that is in your care and to verify that any previously collected data is accurate.

Film Survey
Selznick School fellow Katie Pratt surveying film prints.

To close, I’ll return to my opening premise of “reflection.” (I can’t help but hear the Tin Man asking near the end of The Wizard of Oz, “What have you learned, Dorothy?”) But after writing this rather long, multi-part blog post, I can see that the solutions and/or procedures put into place this year could not have happened if the RAC didn’t foster a collaborative, inter-department work environment. Every project described above came about because of a true team-effort, wherein staff members from different departments (each with his or her professional strengths) came together to find creative, user-centered solutions.

I’ll go back to John Dewey, who once remarked: “Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.” So, next year,…here we go!

This is a post in a series: Reflection: A Year in the Life of an Audiovisual Archivist