Thanks in part to an unexpected eruption of spots covering my daughter, I was unable to update progress last week on my internship at Lewis & Clark College but alas I am back again and completing out of anti-itch lotion. What I discovered most obviously last week was the amazing assortment of paper clips that seem to exist. Paper clips are just one of many tools that archivist hardily detest because of their damaging qualities. It is therefore common practice to remove them as one goes along.
On a more serious note, coinciding with what is being discussed in my summer course, there are some complicated legal issues in the field of archives that I am still working to wrap my head around. For example, we came upon a box full of letters written to the literary estate’s author when they ran an advice column in a local newspaper. The discussion that thereafter ensued was as follows: who do these belong to? Do we really have the right to access them and call them part of the collection? Are they the newspaper’s? The senders? In the end we decided against keeping the letters, which was some semblance of a loss considering their absolute hilarity (one of which the writer claimed to work 39 hour shifts at a marshmallow tasting laboratory). When adding digitization to the situation the question of legal rights becomes even more complicated. While a donor agreement is well needed and important, it does not grant the institute legal rights (as seen in the Belfast project). We often come across more simple instances of this when another author’s book or something of the like is included in the materials and needs to be weeded for reasons of rights. Personally, I still feel the line is a foggy and blended one. Yet, this seems the case often with the archives profession and differs greatly from main libraries. In a library any book may be acquired and treated in the same manner and with the same practice as another but in an archive each new accession (or collection) must in some instance speak for itself. Therefore, the procedure is often different and quite often evolving and changing. While this concept is nerve racking, it makes me thankful for the experience I am getting since such things are not easily learned from a book.
This week I boxed a custom limited edition version of Author X’s most famous work that sells on Amazon for around $600.