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Blog

Musings of a librarian, former archivist, musician, bibliophile, and tech-obsessed.

Entries in Ownership (1)

Thursday
Jan282010

Who Owns What?

Archivists in academia:

This is a little story that spans two audio visual archivists, other archivists, two music librarians, some technical people from the university computing center, and one retired music professor. With that many interested parties, it had to be complicated. But if you think about it, there were just a whole lot of people who wanted to preserve the records in various capacities, for various reasons, which is a really good thing.

Anyway, the professor took the reel to reels recorded of his ensemble home when he retired because he felt they were his. (He should have owned copies, but unfortunately, at that time, only one copy was made.) The music librarians heard about this, and tried to get them back for the university, but that didn't work. Then, the professor approached the university computing center for help digitizing the reels, so he could have CDs of them instead because they took up a rather large amount of space. They computing center said "sure!" but they would have to do it in their spare time, which at a small university means they sat there for a while and were almost completely forgotten about. The music librarians told the first audio visual archivist about these reels (when the position was finally created), and the first a/v archivist tried as hard as he could and went nowhere because at that time the archives was not equipped to digitize audio, and the computing center wanted to do it. Then a slight staff change was made, in the computing center and the archives, and the second a/v archivist (me), after two years of work, and working with the music librarians and the computing center had the boxes of reels transferred to the archives, as part of a plan to digitize them!

Yay!

This raises a larger issue many university archivists face that with certain faculty and staff--they do not technically own the records, the university and department does. I totally understand where they're coming from, because this is their work, or they helped create it, but it would do a lot more good if the records were preserved in a centralized location for the future members of the department and other researchers to use them (the university archives). I know this problem spans across universities, and it is our job as university archivists to make sure the legacy of the university lasts forever and is not lost. I was wondering how other university archivists have talked to these faculty and accessioned the records? Do you have a hard time getting the original records from them? Do you ever get the records from them?