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Special Interest Group Archive: Archives SIG 2/20/2019

These are the notes from meetings dating back to 2015.

Archives SIG 2/20/2019

February 20th, 2019 was the first meeting of the Archives SIG. It was convened by Anastasia Matijkiw and Amelia Parks of  Documentary Heritage & Preservation Services for New York (DHPSNY).

Empire ADC

After introductions, Jen Palmentiero, the Digital Services Librarian at Southeastern, presented on Empire ADC.

  • Empire ADC is a finding aid portal managed by the 9 library resources councils in NY.
  • It is based on EAD standards.
  • When creating a finding aid, there are 12 required fields, and the site builds the finding aid for you.
  • There are facets and a search bar to facilitate navigating the collections.
  • Working on a cost model for participating institutions.
  • Good as a starting point for organizations who are thinking of digitizing their collections -> it provides a way to ensure broader access to your materials.

DHPSNY Services

After Jen’s presentation, Anastasia and Amelia talked about DHPSNY services.

  • DHPSNY is a product of the NYS library & archives. It is part of the Conservation Center for Historic Artifacts located in Philadelphia.
  • Their services are divided into three main areas: planning and assessment, communication and outreach, education services.
  • assessment  -> There are several types of assessments they provide. You apply to be a part of it.

Archival Needs assessment:

  • An archival needs assessment  helps libraries by looking at the org’s facility, pinpointing problems, setting priorities, and creating some guidelines.
  • Sections in the report include: goals (short, medium, long), administration section (policies, staffing, funding, access, outreach), collections management (processing, describing, documenting collections), collection care and storage, building and environment, security and emergency preparedness, additional resources.
  • Process: lengthy questionnaire (covers most of the topics covered), site visit w/ experienced archivist, interview & ask questions. From the information they write a detailed report on the findings.

Preservation Survey:

  • You can also get a preservation survey which focuses more on preservation needs. The assessment covers goals, preservation planning, building, environmental condition, security, collections care, and additional resources. They suggest  best practices but since a lot of organizations don’t have extensive resources, they also consider affordable and creative ways people can reach their goals.

Condition Survey:

  • Condition survey -> useful for people who have previously undergone a preservation survey. Helps you survey conditions at a more granular level. Suitability of current storage, state of current items, and the need. Estimate of items in vulnerable condition & provide guidance on preservation methods.

Strategic Planning assistance:    

  • DHPSNY also provides strategic planning assistance.
  • The Strategic planning process includes a webinar, survey of staff, and a meeting on site w/ relevant staff to have a discussion around your institution.
  • 3 year plan.
  • Documentation planning – ongoing process

Education Services:

  • They provide workshops, webinars, mentorship, and one on one technical assistance.  
  • Mentorship circles have people in different parts of their careers meet and discuss monthly.
  • One on one technical assistance: can answer emails, phone calls, and video chat. Can even come on site and provide in-depth help.
  • Bi-monthly newsletter
  • They also have a directory which includes libraries, archives, museums, and historic societies throughout New York State. (Nearly 4,500 orgs!)
  • Resource page maintained – links out to resources on different topics
  • (contact information on the libguide)


After the presentation Amelia & Anastasia facilitated a discussion. 

What challenges are people facing in their archives?

  • Asked about HRVH: there are some fees related to it. A lot of people go to local supporters to help fund the costs associated with it.
  • How to manage an museum in absentia of a director
    • Start with policies – start documenting what you’re doing.
    • If someone starts, at least they have something to point towards.
    • Keep a work journal / documentation of what you’ve done.
    • DHYPSNY site, American archivist sites -> have some good information. Strengthening archives, New York state archives. Ask some questions and gets you thinking about what you need.
  • Managing collections can be challenging sometimes because archives are historically considered to be paper materials. Many people have a variety of objects mixed in their collections. DHPYSNY will address these items in their reports.
  • Museum alliance located in Washington provides some information on objects.
  • People accept gifts on behalf of an organization without determining if it’s needed. If you don’t want it, what do you do with it? DHPSNY does have a webinar on ethics and what you do with donated items.  It is also useful to have strict accessioning / deaccessioning policies.
  • A lot of groups think they need a digital archivist. Needs to be defined in a better way -> digital archivists are not digitizing, they’re the ones managing and preserving digital media.
  • People aren’t always clear of the difference between preservation and digitization.  Digital items are not always a sustainable solution. They can be expensive to maintain and provide continual access to. It is something that should be undertaken with a lot of consideration beforehand.
  • Digital doorway – talk about how they are working with certain objects and linking it to current events relating to the item.  Digital items do allow you to unite items in unique ways. These connections would otherwise not be apparent.  
  • A service would be useful to have archivists that could actually support institutions and do work for them. “Day of service” idea -> people come in with small collections and have an archivist assess them.

Contact information

DHPSNY contact:

Phone: (215) 545-0613
General email:

Anastastia Matijkiw, Project Manager

Amelia  Parks, Archives Specialist


Useful Links

Next meeting

Ideas for the next meeting: it might be useful to talk about outreach.  How to connect with people and and tell stories from your archives. There is a marketing toolbox day at Southeastern May 2nd, which will have speakers touching on this topic.  

The next meeting is scheduled for June 19th! 9-30 : 12:30. (Convener TBD). If you want to be a convener let Carolyn know.

Southeastern NY Library Resources Council
21 South Elting Corners Road | Highland, NY 12528
Phone: (845) 883-9065