Great news! 

We're very pleased to show you that those items - previously inaccessible and unknown for the most part - are now part of our collection, properly housed and stored, with vast improvements simultaneously being applied to the entire Vault storage area. We're now prepared for fire, flood, and earthquakes! We've also reduced the collection's exposure to UV radiation, introduced a new electronic system of recording temperature and humidity fluctuations, removed all of the acidic materials previously housing documents, and conducted a thorough disinfection of the space.

The Archives backlog, begun in September 2016, is now completed one year later. Just to recap, we received a substantial grant from Library and Archives Canada, who supported us through their Documentary Heritage Communities Program to the tune of $79,000. This support allowed us the chance to hire two staff to tackle the backlog of items in the Archives representing a few decade's worth of archival donations and past projects that had never been fully integrated into the collection. 

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Processing donations is surprisingly time consuming – the Archives Association of BC estimates that every photograph or document requires between 2 and 6 hours of time to properly place into a collection. This includes getting all of the legal documentation in place, researching the item’s provenance and significance, cleaning and applying preservation methods, rehousing the item in proper storage, and adding it to the archive’s catalogue. 

We would like to thank Library and Archives Canada for their generosity. We would also like to thank our volunteers and staff, the community of Oliver, the Town of Oliver, and the RDOS for their continued support. 

The Archives' collection is now where it needs to be, and we wouldn't be here without their contributions. 


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By the numbers

- 4,640 hours of staff time

- 136 hours volunteer time

- 217 maps + plans cleaned and flattened

- 489 photographs digitized and added to collection

- 18 meters of backlogged materials rehoused and added to collection

- 87 new accessions

- 15 items transferred to other Museums 

- 29 meters of new shelving added to Vault storage

- 88 signed gift forms

- 367 GB digital backup of collection


BEFORE (Sept 2016)

Before: Lots of items were being stored in the space - odds and ends, old electronics, boxes, collections supplies. 

Before: Lots of items were being stored in the space - odds and ends, old electronics, boxes, collections supplies. 

An old wood desk, and boxes of unfiled, unaccessioned items (backlog). Note the boxes directly on the floor - a minor leak 2 years ago caused them to become damp after they soaked up moisture. We had to do extensive remediation on the mouldy items.

An old wood desk, and boxes of unfiled, unaccessioned items (backlog). Note the boxes directly on the floor - a minor leak 2 years ago caused them to become damp after they soaked up moisture. We had to do extensive remediation on the mouldy items.

This is the backlog. These items have been waiting to be added to the collection for a long time - sometimes several decades. Lots of them are actually artifacts and were brought to the Museum instead. Note the sticky note labels, acidic boxes housing items, and items overhanging the shelves.

This is the backlog. These items have been waiting to be added to the collection for a long time - sometimes several decades. Lots of them are actually artifacts and were brought to the Museum instead. Note the sticky note labels, acidic boxes housing items, and items overhanging the shelves.

This table was taking up lots of space, and everything just got piled up onto it. Old computer equipment, books, and anything that had no home - we cleared it all out during our renovation in January. Note the items on the floor. 

This table was taking up lots of space, and everything just got piled up onto it. Old computer equipment, books, and anything that had no home - we cleared it all out during our renovation in January. Note the items on the floor. 

This is the backlog - decades of items put into boxes to be dealt with "later". We had to track down their donors (when possible) and get their gift forms signed and updated - because this process had been delayed for so long, many of the original donors were deceased, moved away, or impossible to track down. Luckily we were able to do some sleuthing and most of the items were properly documented and legal ownership established. 

This is the backlog - decades of items put into boxes to be dealt with "later". We had to track down their donors (when possible) and get their gift forms signed and updated - because this process had been delayed for so long, many of the original donors were deceased, moved away, or impossible to track down. Luckily we were able to do some sleuthing and most of the items were properly documented and legal ownership established. 

A lack of resources means that archives often have to make do with what they can afford - banker's boxes, standard envelopes, etc. Archival supplies are expensive!

A lack of resources means that archives often have to make do with what they can afford - banker's boxes, standard envelopes, etc. Archival supplies are expensive!

You can spot lots of framed items and artifacts poking in and around the archival materials. We got to the backlog just in time for some of these items - those sticky notes were falling off and were often the only source of information we had about where they came from and what they were. 

You can spot lots of framed items and artifacts poking in and around the archival materials. We got to the backlog just in time for some of these items - those sticky notes were falling off and were often the only source of information we had about where they came from and what they were. 

We got to the backlog just in time for some of these items - those sticky notes were falling off and were often the only source of information we had about where they came from and what they were.

We got to the backlog just in time for some of these items - those sticky notes were falling off and were often the only source of information we had about where they came from and what they were.

More examples of items overhanging the shelves, collection items and boxes on the floor where they are at risk from floods and pests. 

More examples of items overhanging the shelves, collection items and boxes on the floor where they are at risk from floods and pests. 

Maps, rolled and stored vertically in acidic boxes on the floor. Not ideal, but we'll fix that. 

Maps, rolled and stored vertically in acidic boxes on the floor. Not ideal, but we'll fix that. 

Many of our storage boxes had impermanent methods of identifying their contents. They were difficult to read and were at risk of falling off the boxes. 

Many of our storage boxes had impermanent methods of identifying their contents. They were difficult to read and were at risk of falling off the boxes. 

The organization of the archives was confusing, and unnecessarily complex. With the opportunity given to us with this project, we actually redid the entire organization system. 

The organization of the archives was confusing, and unnecessarily complex. With the opportunity given to us with this project, we actually redid the entire organization system. 

Our audio cassettes, containing interviews and various media recordings, were stored in a wood cassette box. 

Our audio cassettes, containing interviews and various media recordings, were stored in a wood cassette box. 

Our audio-visual shelf was also a wood composite, with items stacked several items deep on the shelves, making access difficult. Most items were also exposed to dust and UV radiation. 

Our audio-visual shelf was also a wood composite, with items stacked several items deep on the shelves, making access difficult. Most items were also exposed to dust and UV radiation. 

We always monitored the temperature and humidity levels manually - twice a day, every day. However that not only took lots of staff time, it also meant that on weekends and over the holidays, we might be unawareif conditions changed and became unsafe for the collection. 

We always monitored the temperature and humidity levels manually - twice a day, every day. However that not only took lots of staff time, it also meant that on weekends and over the holidays, we might be unawareif conditions changed and became unsafe for the collection. 

AFTER (Sept 2017)

After we'd cleared out all of the non-collection items, we were able to add extra wide shelving to store larger items. 

After we'd cleared out all of the non-collection items, we were able to add extra wide shelving to store larger items. 

Everything is now moved off of the floor, in case of future leaks. 

Everything is now moved off of the floor, in case of future leaks. 

Everything was rehoused into proper storage boxes. Oversized items were moved to the new, wider shelving units. We saved a lot of space by compiling the items into upright acid-free file boxes.  

Everything was rehoused into proper storage boxes. Oversized items were moved to the new, wider shelving units. We saved a lot of space by compiling the items into upright acid-free file boxes.  

These extra-wide shelves now hold all of the wide collection items - newspapers, scrapbooks, rolled maps, and oversized documents. Nothing overhanging anymore!

These extra-wide shelves now hold all of the wide collection items - newspapers, scrapbooks, rolled maps, and oversized documents. Nothing overhanging anymore!

Now that the backlog has been added to the collection and organized properly, we're now in a great position with plenty of room for future growth. 

Now that the backlog has been added to the collection and organized properly, we're now in a great position with plenty of room for future growth. 

There's now no more acidic or chemically-damaging materials in the archives. We replaced wood shelves with metal ones, cardboard with acid-free archival storage, and even tested all of the tissue used to protect our photograph collection. 

There's now no more acidic or chemically-damaging materials in the archives. We replaced wood shelves with metal ones, cardboard with acid-free archival storage, and even tested all of the tissue used to protect our photograph collection. 

Artifacts were taken to the Museum, and framed items, scrapbooks, and newspapers were rehoused on the wide shelving. Look at all that space!

Artifacts were taken to the Museum, and framed items, scrapbooks, and newspapers were rehoused on the wide shelving. Look at all that space!

No more sticky notes!

No more sticky notes!

Everything in acid-free boxes, at least 4" off of the floor, sitting on shelving secured to the wall in case of earthquakes, with a gap maintained on exterior walls of a full 6 inches of buffer room in case of severe flooding. We're prepared for disaster! At least, our collection is...

Everything in acid-free boxes, at least 4" off of the floor, sitting on shelving secured to the wall in case of earthquakes, with a gap maintained on exterior walls of a full 6 inches of buffer room in case of severe flooding. We're prepared for disaster! At least, our collection is...

Maps that could fit in the map cabinet were flattened and placed in envelopes. Most of these maps and plans are huge (some up to 25 feet long! and can't fit in a map cabinet without being folded, so they'll stay rolled. They're now protected from dust in mylar sleeves, horizontally stored and up off the floor. They're secured to the shelves with archival ribbon so they won't shift. 

Maps that could fit in the map cabinet were flattened and placed in envelopes. Most of these maps and plans are huge (some up to 25 feet long! and can't fit in a map cabinet without being folded, so they'll stay rolled. They're now protected from dust in mylar sleeves, horizontally stored and up off the floor. They're secured to the shelves with archival ribbon so they won't shift. 

Labels are now permanently affixed to the boxes, consistently labelled with contents, and box number. 

Labels are now permanently affixed to the boxes, consistently labelled with contents, and box number. 

Cabinets and shelves are all assigned a Unit number and given a description. Every shelf or drawer in that unit starts at 1 at the top and continues down to the floor - that location is then entered into each item's database entry so we can find it for researchers. 

Cabinets and shelves are all assigned a Unit number and given a description. Every shelf or drawer in that unit starts at 1 at the top and continues down to the floor - that location is then entered into each item's database entry so we can find it for researchers. 

This is where all the audio-visual items are housed now. in boxes, out of the light and dusty atmosphere. Film reels, CDs/DVDs, and cassettes are in boxes that keep them safe from being crushed or scratched. Transcriptions of each item are housed on the top shelf for easy access. 

This is where all the audio-visual items are housed now. in boxes, out of the light and dusty atmosphere. Film reels, CDs/DVDs, and cassettes are in boxes that keep them safe from being crushed or scratched. Transcriptions of each item are housed on the top shelf for easy access. 

These HOBO data loggers collect information about the temperature and humidity levels every hour. If levels move outside of the range we've deemed safe, we receive a warning immediately. 

These HOBO data loggers collect information about the temperature and humidity levels every hour. If levels move outside of the range we've deemed safe, we receive a warning immediately. 


Here's a gallery of the completed project: 


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