METRO & AVPS Announce NYC/Westchester County Collection Assessment Grants

February 14, 2012

The Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) recently announced the availability of three collection assessment grants to be awarded to institutions in METRO’s New York City and Westchester County service area.

The funding for these grants stems from a collaboration with the Document Heritage Program of the New York State Archives (DHP), a mandated initiative committed to preserving New York’s documentary heritage. Through state-supported funding and education, DHP helps non-profit organizations maintain their archival records. Areas of particular interest include materials documenting education policy, environmental affairs, mental health, the tragedy of September 11, 2001, and population groups and economic change in the 20th and 21st centuries.

To be eligible for the grant, archives must be located within New York City or in Westchester county. This particular grant targets collections or sub-collections containing less than 3,000 items. The items in these collections must be limited to a single media type. These media types include magnetic media (audio and/or videotape), motion picture film, or still photographs.

At the beginning of the project, AVPS will visit the archive to examine the collections and the facilities that house them. During this phase, AVPS consultants will conduct in-person interviews with staff members to understand how the archive operates and where the collections fit within its framework. Current databases, cataloging schemas, and storage practices will be assessed at this time.

Once AVPS completes a full evaluation of the collections, the findings will be compiled into a report. This documentation includes a ranked breakdown of the collection’s contents according to reformatting urgency. In addition to this list, the report recommends storage requirements for physical materials and ideal formats for preservation, mezzanine, and access copies of digitized content. Finally, the report suggests local vendors or required in-house digitization equipment and provides a general reformatting workflow.

By the project’s completion, the archive will have in-hand the full report along with vendor or equipment cost quotes, rehousing and labor cost estimates, and a complete lists of the collection’s formats, durations, and projected sizes after digitization.

If selected, the archive’s staff must accept the conditions and responsibilities associated with the project. They must designate a central point of contact for coordinating and communicating with AVPS. Key staff members must participate in 60 to 90 minute interviews with AVPS consultants or complete questionnaires. After coordinating the site visits, the archive’s staff must provide AVPS consultants access to the collections and share existing collection documentation that is pertinent to the project. Once they receive the final reports, staff should review them and offer constructive feedback.

In addition to these obligations, the archivist and an administrator must agree to talk about the project at a METRO event. The archivist must agree to speak at a conference, on a panel, or at a professional event about the project and its impact on their collections. In addition writing the letter of commitment, an administrator must also consent to be a part of an Administrators Roundtable event. Participants will include other library administrators and archive collection managers from the area. The purpose of the event will be to consider the challenges and solutions associated with preserving media. Ultimately, an account of the discussion will be documented and distributed through a white paper by METRO. In the future, METRO may consult this white paper when developing programming for the library and archive community. AVPS and METRO will schedule and coordinate these local events.

To be considered, fill out the online application form.  An administrator must supplement the application with a letter explicitly outlining how the assessment will help them move forward with their current projects. The archivist must also write a letter committing to speak at a METRO event about the project. Templates for the Administrator’s Letter of Commitment and the Archivist’s Panel Presentation Commitment Letter are located within the online form. Signed copies are these letters are a required portion of the application. The deadline for applications is Tuesday, February 29th, 2012, at 4:00 pm. The selected archives will be contacted by mid to late March, and AVPS will conduct the assessments in April and early May.

Any questions? Send us an e-mail and we’ll be happy to answer them.