August 27, 2018 – “Damage Control”

Hello, everyone!

The expectations of how today’s events were simply to continue processing the Multimedia Files of the George L. Stuart, Jr. Collection after performing my cleaning responsibilities. However, those expectations were shattered to pieces as the entire archive staff mobilized to act as damage control and secure the Special Collections. How did this happen? The Monday routine began as usual, but abruptly was derailed into a state of emergency.

Like past Monday mornings, the first act of my shift was to clean the fifth floor study hall. After equipping the necessary cleaning supplies, I patrolled the aisles and inspected which desks needed to be cleaned. Surprisingly, the time taken to inspect all of the desks was longer than usual. I managed to finish as Mr. Ogreten came and told me Mr. Benjamin wanted to speak with me.

When I reentered the office, awareness of the chaos occurring became apparent as I spoke with Mr. Benjamin. Apparently, a leak (perhaps from the sprinkler system or from the pipes in the ceiling) had been dripping on one of the shelves of Special Collection. Unfortunately, the shelf in question was the same one that houses the George L. Stuart, Jr. Collection. Thankfully, no water damage was incurred on the collection and tarps were placed on all nearby shelves. However, the collection supplies (like spare cardboard boxes) were in the affected portions.

Thus, everything in the affected shelves had to be sorted by the amount of water damage sustained. If no water damage at all was shown on a spare box, then it was set aside. Obviously, those that had signs of water damage (or were still damp) had to be thrown out. After sorting through the supply materials, the remaining supplies were rehoused temporarily in the back area of the Special Collections (though, the shelves seemed overwhelmed amidst the flattened boxes). Thankfully, Courtney was there to aid this process along. Once the boxes were placed in their temporary residence, we were tasked to clean the floors with the Swiffer Sweepers.

Once we were done cleaning, normal activities resumed. I was updating my timesheet when Courtney wanted to know the progress of the George L. Stuart, Jr. Collection. I explained how the subseries had been reorganized alphabetically and as such, the Audio Subseries had top priority at the moment. Though I was preparing to move on to the Digital Media Subseries, our conversation had brought labels as a topic (we had made new labels for a couple of boxes for materials that had boxes affected by water damage). After a result of the conversation, Courtney was to make labels for the cassette cases in the collection.

To help her have an idea of what the labels would look like, I had her examine the Howard W. Eves Audio Cassette Collection’s cassettes. Additionally, I told her about the Excel spreadsheet file I used to make those labels and helped her find the file. Meanwhile, I gathered folders related to the Digital Files Subseries and old Box 51 (the “Computer Disks” Box).

The folders I gathered contained floppy disks and as such, I sought Mr. Ogreten’s advice about how to prepare them. Instead, Mr. Ogreten examined them and deemed one folder not suitable for the collection (the other barely passed as a letter contextualized the contents in the folder).  Mr. Ogreten’s examinations certainly made the work to be done much easier, but the old Box 51 had surprises in store for me.

In the box was another cassette and a micro cassette. While the concept of the micro cassette was understandable (the tiny cassette was more portable than its larger counterparts), the archives currently do not have the means play it to learn of its contents. The other cassette, however, was accessible. I was able to listen to the cassette and learned it was a  recording of an orchestra (perhaps former Senator Stuart enjoyed orchestra?). But with no context surrounding the recording, the cassette was not relevant to the collection as a whole and was given to Mr. Ogreten to dispose of.

While setting the cassette recorder to listen to the cassette, an embarrassing episode occurred. Somehow, the power to one of my computer’s monitors was shut off. I could not figure out the cause, but I had little choice but to unplug the monitor from the power strip and transfer it to another. The monitor turned on instantly and everything resumed as normal.

By the time Courtney left, she had prepared the labels for the cassettes. But, there was little time to apply them to their appropriate cases. The task of doing so will have to one of the first ones I complete to morrow before continuing my examination of the “Computer Disks” Box. Unfortunately, no further work could be done for the day and I left after bidding farewell to everyone.

In review, I was cleaning the fifth floor silent study hall when I was hastily placed into damage control to secure the Special Collections due to a leak. Once the collections were secured, work on the Multimedia Files resumed and I began sorting through the Digital Media Files while Courtney made labels for the audio cassettes. Tomorrow, the labels will be applied and the work with the Digital Media Files will resume (unless another incident occurs). Until then, enjoy the rest of the evening and stay safe! Bye!

Author: 57r3l574d

I am currently a Graduate Student at the University of Central Florida and simultaneously employed by the university library's Special Collections and University Archives as a Other Personnel Service (OPS) Student. Expected to graduate in 2019 with a History MA - Public History Track.

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