This month on the 1091 Project we look at how we track materials that come to the lab. It’s important to know what is here both for project management as well as for staff who may be looking for an item.
We track items from both general collections and special collections. We use different methods depending on where the materials are coming from.
We use our integrated library system, ALEPH, to track materials from the general (circulating) collections. When books come to the lab we scan the bar code and change the “item process status” (IPS) to “PV.” A preservation status shows up in both the staff view as well as the online catalog. We have other IPS code for materials we send for commercial binding (BD), commercial boxing (PB), reformatting (PR) and disaster recovery (PX).
We have an ALEPH-IPS for special collections (PS) as well. Now that we have implemented AEON in the Rubenstein Library reading room, we have been using the AEON workflow function to indicate when items come to the lab.
We still use an Excel-based lab log to keep track of special collections items as they come and go from the lab. Our database has more information than what we is in AEON including who is working on the project and how many treatment hours the project took.
It’s a belt-and-suspenders workflow but there is no perfect software/system yet that tracks everything we need to track. There are some products for the museum world that come close, and a couple others that are more library-based in the works, but nothing has yet risen to the top in terms of cost/benefit. If you are interested in a discussion of these systems, see the write up on the Conservators Converse from this year’s session at the AIC annual meeting.
Vault Inventory Day
At least twice a year we hold a vault inventory day where we compare our lab log and AEON with what is in our vault. Today happens to be that day!
We are working through our spreadsheet making sure that what the lab log says is here is actually physically here. Inventories always bring up something, whether it is an item that was returned but not noted in the lab log, or a project that has stalled and needs to get back on the front burner. We take this time to resolve discrepancies so that we know the lab log is correct.
If you work in a lab, what system do you have in place to track materials? Parks Library has their own system, be sure to check out their 1091 post.