12 Days of Archivesmas
Gather round friends, and let us tell you a story about three little elves who discovered a brand new world over 12 Archivesmas days. They'll learn all about archives and meet plenty of friends on this great big adventure. Be sure to check back daily to see where the elves have gone, and what they've learned, on their latest adventures!
On the first day of Archivesmas, the elves browsed the digital collections at breckhistoryarchives.org. The wonderous world of historic Breckenridge filled up their screens! So many photos to download right there and for free. Public domain is amazing for elves on a budget. But what about photos that aren’t public domain? “We’ll make an appointment,” said one to another.” With excitement, they emailed email@example.com. The smart little elves told the archivist exactly which records they wanted so the documents would be ready and waiting for them when they got there!
On the second day of Archivesmas, the elves decided to “go green” to get to their appointment with hopes to ride Opie, the office dog. Opie laughed at their plan, dogs can’t go to an archive! After all, even good dogs are problematic for fragile historic materials. Luckily, the archive has plenty of parking. As the elves journeyed on, they wondered, what is an archivist anyway and what do they do?
On the third day of Archivesmas, thoughts of historic photos and documents danced in their heads, as the elves made the trek up those rather tall stairs. “Next time, let’s use the elevator,” they said to one another. On the second floor, the documents were laid on the table with care and the archivist set out white gloves and pencils in hopes the elves soon would be there.
On the fourth day of Archivesmas, the elves refueled with a snack and some water before entering the magical world of the archive. As they opened the door, the tin ceiling shimmered and the stacks rolled open to show the marvelous world of historic documents! The archivist greeted the elves with a smile and a chill ran down her spine as the elves approached the brochures with a pen in hand. “No!” exclaimed the archivist as she explained, “These documents are fragile, we treat them with care. Put down the pen and I’ll show you the way!”
On the fifth day of Archivesmas, the elves joined the new unofficial elves intern program. “First things first,” said the archivist. “We must teach you to scan! Photos and diaries, posters and brochures. The only way to find them online is to scan them right here!” The elves listened intently, then started to wain as the archivist said something about 600 dpi and TIFFs or JPEGs. But as they looked at the screen, their hearts filled with pride seeing their hard work right there waiting for the world to find!
On the sixth day of Archivesmas, the archivist woke the elves from their new sleeping shelves. “Wake up, wake up! We’re getting a donation!” The archivist was giddy, the elves were alarmed. “Is it a surprise, like when Santa brings presents,” the elves inquired. A small twitch started to tremble on the archivist’s eye. “No!” she corrected. “We can’t take just any old thing. Our story is the story of Breckenridge and our items help tell it. A random donation might have no place here, so we have a process to make everything clear. A person tells us what items they have, and we must decide if it helps support what we do. Some things are so cool, but we can’t keep them because they don’t belong here. Other items might not sound so exciting, but their place is here, so we make space for those items and it brings us great cheer. Donors sign forms saying what they’ve brought and how we can use it. We send them our sincerest thanks and their items become our items. After that, those things live here and help people learn about Breckenridge’s history for generations to come.”
On the seventh day of Archivesmas, the archivist asked what seemed like an innocent question: “Have you heard of processing?” Processing. It was such a simple word, but the elves had no idea just how much work that little word held. “We must process the items to create a new collection,” the archivist noted. Each item must have a record so the people can find it. A number. A box. A collection to hold it. Finding aides, key terms, people, places, and things. Was the archivist just trying to confuse them with nouns? No, dear friends, this is all part of the job!
On the eighth day of Archivesmas, the elves got their first research requests! A reporter needs photos, like yesterday, and William is writing a book – he needs sources, photos, and access to interviews. For those who’ve filled out the Digital Object Request and Usage Form, their wishes are filled quickly and their images sent before the elves even know what a Digital Object Request and Usage Form is. For the naughty researchers, who didn’t follow the process, it all takes a bit more time. But the archivist is patient, the elves have never seen her so kind. And with time and some digging even those requests are filled. “We should give them coal instead,” whispers an elf. “They just don’t know how much there is on this shelf!” Then the elves stopped to ponder, “Can’t people just borrow things like from a library shelf?” The archivist explained, “All the items in here are historic and can’t be lent out, but Shayne, the librarian, can explain what they’re all about.”
Faithful reader, a bonus for you on this eighth day! Just what was that request in the sweet elvish photo? Take a look below to see the researcher and just what it was that they wanted!
On the ninth day of Archivesmas, the archivist told the elves a wonderful surprise. “The archive isn’t the only place where we work! Come on little elves, let’s take a journey to see all the museums we help curate!” As the adventurers walked along the streets of Breckenridge, the archivist told them about Barney Ford and Edwin Carter. There’s also the Welcome Center and Milne Park. “And if we leave town, there’s so much more history to be found! But some of it is closed for the season, so you’ll have to come back in the summer to pan for your fortune.”
On the tenth day of Archivesmas, the elves wondered aloud, “Are the things in museums the only objects you have?” The archivist smiled and shook her head. “We have much more that’s not on display, to Milne Park we must go, I’ll lead the way.” At Milne house they learned of the collections elevator, and helped put objects into the basement. “It’s like a bear cave!” the elves said with some fears. “It’s OK,” the archivist reassured them. “The conditions down here will help preserve our items for years!”
On the eleventh day of Archivesmas, the elves heard that simple word again: processing. You see some objects come in, but they need extra help. So we have a room to give them new life. The work can be timely if you do it just right!
On the twelfth day of Archivesmas, the elvish interns finally got a day off! Their work had been done and on this Christmas day, the whole world would have presents they’d scanned, rehoused and preserved. One hundred years from today, historians will cheer at the things they accomplished in 12 Archivesmas days. So saddle up Opie the office dog, dash away into the night, and may your holiday season be full of wonder and delight!