Numbering the letters, plus my first separation sheet!


Continuing to number letters and envelopes in pencil. It is slow and steady work, kind of meditative. Tom is going through the rare book collection in preparation for a possible move (if funding comes through for renovation/addition), he needs to get rid of a lot of stuff. Sometimes he stops and shows me an interesting book. He’s a rare book collector himself and finds it difficult to weed the collection. He has been working on it slowly for years, but now the pressure is really on. Several years ago (he’s been here for 10) he realized he wasn’t making enough progress weeding, so he decided on certain criteria a book must meet in order to be kept. I thought that was an interesting and useful form of self-management. He’s so on his own up here.

Spent an hour numbering letters and envelopes and finished that task. It was satisfying to finally label the collection folders!


I filled out my very first separation sheet – pretty simple.



Talked a lot about the situation in Woburn regarding the library’s needed renovation and addition, about whether the services and resources (of the library and the archive, the rare books collection, the museum artifacts) are recognized as valuable – who are they valuable to and why? Discussed the political component, where the mayor’s priorities lie, the history of the town and how it has changed and continues to change. The use of the archives is limited by the lack of access (narrow spiral staircase, small room) and the resulting lack of awareness works against developing public support for the needed structural improvements that would provide better access. A library is so very situated within its town, and it’s like a dynamic system; the workings of the town affect the health and vitality of the library.

I used microfilm for the first time in my life – strange how outdated technologies can be intimidating – but it was simple to operate. The card catalog only listed one newspaper entry for Joseph A. Foley but when I looked it up, it was only an article and did not give his birth date (which I need for the finding aid). I looked through several days of the newspaper and found four more articles about his death, but no obituary.


Outstanding tasks:

  1. With pencil, number the letters on both envelopes and letters, erase Helen’s markings, add numbers to letter inventory
  2. Add to processing notes: item 43 had incoming letter (to Joe), moved it to series II
  3. Fill out and print separation sheet (acid-free paper!) and put with item 43
  4. Find date of death, find obit for bio sketch, write bio sketch.
  5. Add to processing notes: newspapers article on his death was filed in the vertical files
  6. Re-arrange series 3 as noted in front sheet in folder.
  7. Photocopy clippings (and other ephemera?) on acid-free paper (after photocopier has been serviced)
  8. Write labels on folders
  9. Finding aid in Past Perfect

Questions for Tom:

  • should scope and content mention that a few letters are to Mr. Foley?
  • Finding aid elements – no control access points?

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