Monday, May 03, 2010

Step 3: Pack it Up

The most physically intensive preparations for the move involve the re-housing of collections to ensure that we are moving stable, standard sized boxes into the new space. We have a variety of less than ideal storage currently, including fruit, egg and liquor boxes, shopping and grocery bags, and boxes that weigh far too much for any single person to lift. Beyond unconventional containers, we also have lots of non-traditional and oversize items that make packing a bit more challenging. Although there are not as many of these types of materials in the collections, the ones that do exist require greater amounts of planning (and some creative thinking) as compared to their document counterparts living in standard, archival boxes on the shelves:

Over 200 scrapbooks and ledgers, many of which are too large, heavy, or pointy to be boxed easily

Dozens of model airplanes, rockets, and boats. Many are lightweight, but delicate and require custom cradles and boxes to ensure they survive the move in one piece.

Statues, awards, and plaques – some of glass, metal, wood or a combination of all three.

Thousands of smaller artifacts including jewelry, pocket knives, pins and buttons, and even balloons.

A cast iron stove and wash pot.

A Rural Electrification pole.

There are easy solutions for many of our non-traditional items.
We will use tubes and Tyvek for rolled textile storage and have ordered small, compartmentalized trays for the thousands of small
and medium sized artifacts. As for the scrapbooks and ledgers, we are considering shrink wrapping them to ensure that they are protected and that no pages or artifacts within them come loose or get lost.

We are also considering how to move many fragile and breakable items. One plan is to simply decrease the number of breakable things by de-framing many of our framed objects. This could enable us to store items in more appropriate housing and to decrease the pieces of potentially breakable glass that we have to move.

For some of our most fragile items, we are currently brainstorming ways to accommodate them on the journey. One great example is the Larry Walker whiteboard, featured as our first “Outside the Box” object in 2009. This is an item which was never intended to last forever – it is literally a white board which contains text and numbers written in dry erase marker. Every time it is touched or moved, more of the marker is erased. Although we have scanned the board, thus documenting its content, we would like to keep the item as intact as possible and so have decided to fashion a custom cradle and cover for this object. Other items, which are unique for a variety of reasons, will require this kind of specialty housing for the move.

And, of course, we are also moving a variety of unstable materials including liquids (snow globes, turpentine), matches, and lighters. But that is likely fodder for a whole other post. For now, let’s just leave it at this: packing is another challenge. As in all of our moving steps, we are taking time to assess and strategize before making decisions on how to proceed.

Post by Jan Levinson & Kat Stein, Russell Library

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