PEOPLE AND PLACES
On December 8, 2003, representatives of four western archival associations met for a day-long conference in Edmonton. Hosted by the Archives Society of Alberta at the Provincial Archives of Alberta, the "Western Archives Summit" included board members from the ASA, the Archives Association of British Columbia, the Saskatchewan Council for Archives and Archivists, and the Association for Manitoba Archives. The Provincial Archivists for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba also attended the meeting.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the review of the funding programs from the Canadian Council of Archives as well as the status of national and provincial archival initiatives. There were also discussions of relationships between archival associations and their provincial governments. The ASA was fortunate to have Mark Rasmussen, the Assistant Deputy Minister within Alberta Community Development who is responsible for the PAA, attend an afternoon portion of the meeting to share his perspective regarding the ASA's working relationship with the provincial government.
Although the meeting provided a valuable opportunity for members of the four associations to network and compare notes about their circumstances, the main result of the meeting was the preparation of a submission to the CCA regarding "what the west wants" in terms of the CCA structure and its granting programs. By presenting a unified voice, the four organizations hope that their perspective will have a positive influence on the outcome of the CCA's review.
Those archivists who read the Edmonton Journal may have noticed a recent story about Ottawa to Edmonton airfare prices that included an interview with a "professional archivist." Some sleuthing has revealed that archivist to be Michael Gourlie, who was returning from Ottawa after a meeting of the CCA's Preservation Committee.
After many years of service, Ken Kaiser has left the Government Records section of the Provincial Archives of Alberta. He was recently the chair of the ASA's Membership Committee.
In April 2003 Liana Haynes left the Provincial Archives and accepted the position of Access and Privacy Advisor at Alberta Health and Wellness. Liana's responsibilities include: dealing with requests for information under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Health Information Act; providing staff training on FOIP; and providing advice to staff about issues such as compliance with FOIP provisions for the collection and use of information. The work is challenging and interesting, and the position allows Liana to combine her records experience with her interest in the field of health.
Submitted by Liana Hayes
The City of Edmonton Archives is excited to announce the implementation of two conservation strategies - a new HEPA vacuum and the raising of its shelves - to protect documents from vermin, dust, and floods.
Recently, the City of Edmonton Archives purchased a new HEPA vacuum and it really sucks! As a Christmas present, Archivist and leader of 'Project Vacuum,' Susan Stanton along with City Archivist, Leslie Latta-Guthrie, purchased a new a Miele Filtration Guard model vacuum from a local Edmonton vacuum cleaner retailer on December 19, 2003.
On occasion, collections are donated to the City of Edmonton Archives in poor condition. Records may have been kept in storage sheds, garages, attics or basements and as a result of their housing, they are dusty, dirty, and possibly contaminated with insects or mould. Before being able to join other documents in archival storage, the materials must be thoroughly cleaned. Prior to the purchase of the new vacuum cleaner, this was done with a regular, household vacuum cleaner. A regular vacuum, however, only captures particles from 30 to 50 microns. Most common airborne particles are about 2.4 microns. Thus vacuums without a HEPA filter, like the one formerly used at the Archives can exhaust fine particulate back into the air and into our lungs. With funding in place, the City of Edmonton Archives decided that it was time to retire its old vacuum cleaner and upgrade to one with HEPA filtration. The HEPA filter is a High-Efficiency Particulate Air filter and traps 99.97% of airborne particles 0.3 microns and larger. The HEPA vacuum will be used to clean up donated materials as well as any general or conservation cleaning that is required for the City of Edmonton Archives' holdings. The price tag was approximately $700.00 - money well spent!
Another preservation improvement was made in late 2002 when the City of Edmonton Archives raised its basement shelves. Archivists enlisted the help of labourers from the City of Edmonton Asset Management and Public Works (AM&PW) Department and the City of Edmonton Cemeteries to lift fifty shelving units six inches off the basement floor. Bottom storage shelves, which were basically at floor level, left archival records susceptible to water damage should flooding occur in the Archives' basement storage area. In her report, The City of Edmonton Archives Preservation Assessment and Preservation Management Plan (March 2000), Conservator Cynthia Ball recommended that the lowest shelves be raised four inches off the ground. Moreover, the City's insurance company suggested that the shelves be raised six inches.
Initially, archivists planned to raise only the lowest shelf, but after some discussion, Archivist Kim Christie-Milley and her AM&PW collaborators decided that the entire shelf unit could be moved onto wooden blocks without dismantling the shelf. A Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) conservator suggested that painting the wooden blocks would minimise the chemical "off-gassing" that can be harmful to staff and archival materials. AM&PW staff cut and painted 374 pressure-treated wooden blocks which were then anchored to every leg of the shelving units. Each day, for twenty-five days, the AM&PW team raised two shelf units. In order to keep a step ahead of the AM&PW crew, archivists and labourers from the City Cemeteries unloaded and then reloaded archival material from the shelves on a daily basis. Following the shelf raise, Archivist Susan Stanton attached heavyweight polyethylene plastic sheets to the shelves located underneath the Archives' humidifying units so that if the units ever failed and started spewing water, the records would be kept dry. In fact, during the heavy rains of August 2003, the Archives' basement floors flooded but the archival materials, 6 inches up, remained dry.
As a result of these enhancements - the new vacuum and the shelf lift - the City of Edmonton Archives is ready to face the New Year relatively free of the worries of floods, dust, and dirt, and mould.
Submitted by Susan Stanton, Kim Christie-Milley, and Glynys Hohmann
The Provincial Archives of Alberta's Audio-Visual Archivist, Marlena Wyman, is the recipient of the Dan and Kathy Leab award, presented to her in Vancouver in November 2003 at the Association of Moving Image Archivists Conference. The Leab Award is presented annually to an individual who has made a significant contribution to his or her institution or to the field as a whole. Other award recipients at the conference were Ray Edmondson, former Deputy Director and current Curator Emeritus of the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia who received the Silver Light Award for outstanding career achievement in moving image archiving. A special one-time award was presented to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for their generous and continuing support of AMIA, the archival community and the field of moving image preservation.
Submitted by Irene Jendzjowsky