January 21, 2022

Survey Report: “Collecting Archival Materials During the COVID-19 Pandemic”

From the Excutive Summary of the Report (via LYRASIS):

In April 2020, a member institution reached out to LYRASIS for advice on how to safely collect archival materialsduring the early stages of the pandemic. The archives held half of a substantial collection from a donor who hadcontracted COVID-19 and was in assisted living. Upon hearing the news, the archives had one month to collect theremaining materials from the executor before they were lost.

The archivist suspected the donor had not been in contact with the materials for at least a month, but theinstitution’s executive director was concerned about staff safety since little was known at that time about how thevirus was transmitted or how long it remained active on surfaces and materials. LYRASIS consultants advised thatthe collection be sent to an off-site storage location until more research on the virus could be conducted. CDCguidelines were also provided. The archivist followed the recommendations and quarantined the collection off-site.

In discussing the case, LYRASIS consultants hypothesized that other institutions across the country wereexperiencing similar situations and decided to create a survey to uncover collecting trends and archival practiceduring the pandemic.

The primary goal of the survey was to provide guidelines on how to safely collect archival materials during thepandemic; however, the survey revealed other potential risks to collections as a result of limited physical accessto storage areas and a move to remote staffing.

Recommendations and information on these topics and more arepresented as high-level resource documents in this report. With these resources, institutions undertaking archival collecting will be better equipped to weather the impacts of the pandemic to date and the anticipated intermittentopening and closing of physical sites to come.

Direct to Full Text Report
35 pages; PDF.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.