Over the last few weeks I have been working on preservation, review, deed of gift, and FOIA (freedom of information act) which have been both electronic and paper based. Preservation is a process that I have done frequently in my volunteer and internships with the Historical Society of Berks County. Although there are some differences the work is relatively similar and just as enjoyable. I worked in preservation for about three weeks where I was taught the process of preserving the fairly new documents from the First Lady's office records.
What is preservation? Preservation is the process that many archivists spend a good portion of their time doing on a regular basis. It is the process of re-housing documents into new acid free folders that will not damage the documents in the future. Anything that puts the documents in danger of destruction such as plastic, rusted staples, and other metals are removed from the documents and thrown out or destroyed. Preservation also requires the documents to be placed into Hollinger boxes which will also keep the documents from any harm. During this process all acidic paper is copied for preservation and the original is shredded because the document will begin to fade and become unreadable, losing the document forever. The most well know self-destructive paper is newspaper which will break down into dust over time. This type of paper can also damage the other documents if it is kept in a collection.
After working on preservation I began to learn the process of re-housing deed of gifts which was very similar to when I was working on the preservation of my other project because the first step to every project is to preserve the documents. Later this week or possibly next week another intern and myself will be working on the reorganizing the entire deed of gift collection that we worked on together for a week and I continued to finish over the past two weeks each morning.
As I continue my learning experience I began to learn the process of reviewing the documents for FOIA (Freedom of Information Act of 1967) and PRA (Presidential Records Act of 1978) guidelines. This is something that is completely new to me but it is fairly easy to learn if you have a cheat sheet with the FOIA information summarized. (Which I did thanks to my awesome fellow archivist!) This process helps keep the personal information that needs to be secured safe.
Over this past two weeks I have been working on electronic FOIA as well as paper FOIA request. The first step to completing a FOIA is to search our systems for the information that the researcher/requester is searching for. This process is like a review of the preservation process that I have learned, as well as the reviewing process, because when a person files a FOIA request and it is from an unprocessed collection the documents must first be persevered. Once the documents requested are preserved, the next step is to review the documents under the FOIA and PRA guidelines. Once all of the protected information is redacted the FOIA content information is sent to be opened for the requester.
I know it has been a while since I have added to my blog but my internship does take a lot of work. I finished most of my work that I am required to do outside of my working hours recently and have had the opportunity to go to several of the many great museums that Little Rock, Arkansas has to offer which I will be writing about soon!