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Repository Site Visit and Report


By Christine Jones

LI809XR
Emporia State University
School of Library & Information Management
September 29, 2013















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Introduction
I recently began volunteering at the Johnson County Museum in Shawnee, Kansas. The
museum has detailed procedures on how to properly maintain their archive. I decided to
approach this analysis from the point of view of a museum patron who would not have access to
the extensive procedures and conducted my assessment of the archive via procedures that were
readily available to the general public. The parameters of my analysis include materials found
online and a 20 page Collection Management Policy that is given to patrons who have questions
about the policy.
The archive maintained at the Johnson County Museum or JCM is extensive, thus
justifying the detailed procedural requirements staff and County Museum or JCM includes that
"the museum collects and preserves artifacts and information that document the county's
heritage, and produces interpretive exhibits (Johnson County Museum, 2012). The reference
collection housed at the JCM includes newspaper clippings, photographs, personal documents,
school records, published materials and some unpublished materials. The JCM maintains an
index of materials in its collection and patrons are able to access the indexes and reference
materials in the public research area of the museum.

Physical Description of the Archive
The archive is housed in the subbasement of the museum. Painstaking efforts are made to
control the climate in the subbasement in order to preserve the archive collection. Humidity and
temperature are constantly monitored. All shelving units are hoisted on wood to help prevent
damage in the event of a flood. The museum maintains a zero tolerance policy of food or
beverages in the archive to prevent pest infestation and spills on the collection.
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Archived materials are housed in binders, filing cabinets or boxes. All materials used to
store materials are chemically stable and acid free to prevent deterioration of the materials. All
museum artifacts and archived materials are handled with white gloves to avoid getting oil from
hands on the materials. Fireproof filing cabinets are used when feasible (Johnson County
Museum, 2012).
Materials included in the collection at the JCM have been scrutinized by the Collection
Committee and meet the following criteria (Johnson County Museum, 2012):
o Have a direct geographical connection to Johnson County
o Chronologically from the time period of Johnson Countys establishment to the present
o Provide information to fill in gaps of information on county history
There are currently no new acquisitions in the JCM archive collection that need organizing.
There is however an ongoing project to index photographic negatives donated by Sun
Publications after the newspaper closed in 2011. The newspapers and clippings that were
donated have already been scanned and indexed. Currently the collections department at the
museum is indexing 181 binders full of negatives newspaper staff took during the years the
newspaper was in operation. Sun Publications stored their negatives in protective sleeves and
the Johnson County Museum chose to continue storing the negatives the way they were donated.
The Collections Manager recognized the storage system was already efficient in organization and
provided a chemically stable environment for the negatives. Additionally, indexing projects rely
heavily on volunteers and there arent enough volunteers to justify reorganizing a collection of
negatives that are currently being stored in an acceptable manner.


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Arrangement
As is the case with most archive repositories, space and budgetary constraints dictate
much of the arrangement of the archived materials. Most of the museum collection is stored in a
warehouse offsite where staff members can gain access to it as needed. The offsite collection
materials are not frequently utilized therefore it is reasonable to store them in a remote location.
Storing collection materials in offsite locations has allowed the JCM to maintain an in house
reference area for researchers to utilize. Archived materials would not be easily accessible if they
were stored offsite.
Selection and Acquisitions
The JCM has a Collection Committee that decides what materials to accession or
deaccession. Once materials are accepted by the Collection Committee the Collection Manager
registers the materials into the museum catalog. Materials will be considered if they meet the
criteria previously described in accordance with the mission of the museum. The newspaper
clippings and photograph negatives described earlier support mission of serving the community
by connecting them to their past. All accession records are recorded and archived. Donors are
provided a set of the accessioning record and a third copy is houses in the County Archive.
Deacessioning
The museum has policies regarding deaccessioning of materials but that is very rare in
the archive of the museum. In the rare occurrence of having a duplicate item in the archive a
policy exists to determine whether to keep the duplicate item. When weighing space and
budgetary constraints it is very hard to justify housing duplicates of the same material and it is
usually not a benefit to the collection to have duplicated items available.

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Donations, Loans and Gifts
The museum also has specific policies pertaining to ownership of materials, donations,
loans, gifts and unclaimed items previously loaned to the museum. These policies are in place
not only to maintain the value of the collection but also to provide guidance and continuity to
museum staff. There are currently no materials on loan in the archive, in the rare occurrence that
there are the archive staff follows the same policies used for all other materials in the librarys
collection. The policies regarding donations, loans and gifts stipulate that donations and gifts
permanently transfers legal title as well as physical custody (Hunter, 90) to the museum
whereas loans are temporary.
Access, Reference and Outreach
Materials houses in the archive are in very good condition. However, the JCM has strict
policies patrons are required to follow when accessing materials in the archive. These policies
are implemented with the future condition of the materials in mind:
o The research room is available by appointment only
o Materials need to be requested ahead of time and researchers will have access to one item
at a time
o Researchers will be accompanied by a staff member at all times
o Reproductions of materials will not come from original sources and will be created by
staff members
o White gloves are required when handling materials
o Pencils are the only writing instruments allowed near materials
o Use of material from the JCM need to credit the museum as materials in the collection
do not fall into the category of fair use
o Staff members can refuse service to researchers
o A signed waiver is required from all researchers stating that they will comply with these
rules
Implementing these rules is necessary to protect the materials from loss or damage. Having
these rules in place helps to ensure that use of records involves neither physical damage to the
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items nor violations of copyright and right to privacy (Hunter, p. 6). These restrictions are in
place for preservation or security reasons (Hunter, p. 213). Again referring to the mission of
the museum access to the archive is not closed but restricted and this is to protect the content of
the archive and the physical condition of the materials. The JCM does have materials kept in a
vault leaving researchers with copies of the original to conduct research with.
In 2011 Johnson County Museum partnered with Johnson County Libraries to put archived
photos (JoCo History) on the internet. The result of this effort created a comprehensive digital
history of Johnson County, KS that was easily accessible to researchers without risking the
integrity of the primary sources of information. This digital collection includes over 40,000
photographs that record the history of Johnson County for over 100 years and to date over 4
million photographs have been uploaded by visitors to the website. In addition to photographs,
the digital collection also has an obituary index, a digital cemetery, research tools and research
links making genealogical research much easier for patrons. One of the links is to a Kansas
Historical Society project called Kansas Memory. Kansas Memory has archived materials it has
on Johnson County history expanding the research capabilities of Johnson County historians
even further.
Since the Johnson County Museum is a county department many resources are cross
referenced throughout other county departments. Johnson County Museum works closely with
Johnson County, The Johnson County Libraries, Johnson County Archive, The Olathe Public
Library and Johnson County History. All of these departments reference Johnson County
resources of their websites for patrons.

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Finding Aids
The JCM utilizes all three types of finding aids: internal control-tools, in-house
reference aids and external reference aids (Hunter, p132-133). As with other archives, finding
aids work as administrative tools in the JCM providing the staff with the ability to find materials,
identify the provenance of the collection, maintain a chain of custody and keep an inventory of
what is in the repository. The finding aids also help preserve intellectual control by helping to
identify detailed information about the contents.
I nternal control tools are used upon accessioning a material internal control tools are
used to maintain a record of the material. An accession worksheet is created to record a brief
description of the item as well the location of the item. This information is used by the
collections staff to ensure that they are able to keep track of the material until the material is
officially entered into the collection.
I n-house reference aids are not published for public or patron use and are used by staff
to aid researchers in finding materials. The in-house reference aids used at the JCM are digital
indexes that are accessible from all facility computers. All computer data is remotely backed up
that way in the event of an emergency all copies of the reference aids wont be lost.
External reference aids are available to museum patrons but rarely used. As mentioned
earlier the museum has worked with the county library system to put over 40,000 digital images
online for patrons to view. The museum also has many guides published on items in their
collection for patrons to use. Calendars are used as external reference aids in such a way that
events directly relate to materials in the collection.

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Public Research Area
The JCM offers researchers a work area where they can conduct their research within the
archive. Tables and chairs are available to patrons who make appointments to access archival
materials. There is no fee associated with using the archive but patrons are requested to pay for
copies made and donations are accepted.
Genealogical Research
Although it does house some genealogical materials like school records, Johnson County
Museum is not a good resource for genealogical research. If a patron approaches the museum for
assistance with genealogical research the historians will aid patrons in searching the archive at
the museum and then refer the patrons to the Johnson County Genealogical Society where more
genealogical documents are housed
Conclusion
The JCM maintains an extensive policy on procedures for their archive in order to
preserve the collection for future generations. Though the collection is currently in very good
condition and there is little concern about the fragility of the materials, museum staff strives to
maintain the integrity of the materials in the collection. The archive is housed in such a way that
it allows easy access to patrons who wish to conduct research. Finally, the museum understands
that though their goal is preservation of their collection, continually updating their procedures is
necessary. The Collection Management Policy is reviewed every year by the JCM Collection
Committee. Revisions are made and reviewed by the Curator of Collections and Exhibits and
formally adopted after approval by the museum director.

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References:
Eastwood, T. & MacNeil, H., eds. (2010). Currents of archival thinking. Santa Barbara, CA:
Libraries Unlimited.
Greene, M. A., & Meissner, D. (2005). More product, less process: revamping traditional
archival processing. The American Archivist, 68, 208-263.

Hunter, G.S. (2003). Developing and maintaining practical archive: a how-to-do-it manual. 2
nd

ed. New York: Neal-Schuman.
JoCoHistory. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2013, from http://www.jocohistory.net/
Johnson County Museum (2012). Collection management policy.
Johnson County Museum research policies for photograph and paper collections. (2003).
Retrieved from
http://www.jocomuseum.org/docs/research%20policies%20for%20photograph%20and%20
manuscript%20collection.pdf
Johnson County's Photographic History on the Web. (2011, December 15).
Retrieved September 18, 2013, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOBqbUmd300