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ARCHIVES Home

ARCHIVES Home

ARCHIVES  April 1995, Week 4

ARCHIVES April 1995, Week 4

Subject:

architectural drawings, again!

From:

Roy Webb <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Archives & Archivists <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 27 Apr 1995 09:51:29 MDT

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (96 lines)

Dang!, I had no idea this would stir up such a response but it
sure is fun.  Don't worry, Todd, I didn't mean to sound
flameish and I am actually greatly enjoying the exchange.  Did
it really sound like a "scorching rebuttal?"  I didn't mean to,
honest, I just wanted to clarify that point, that we don't deny
access.  Despite the impression I might have foolishly given, we
really do pride ourselves on open access to one and all; I
might say we bend over backwards to do so.  Certain private
institutions here Behind the Zion Curtain have different and
more restrictive policies, which is their right of course, but
we like to think we contrast sharply with those policies.
 
So anyway, no, I wouldn't have any qualms about people taking
notes from drawings.  I wouldn't let anyone trace something
because of the potential for physical damage to the drawing
itself, although I have to admit this has never come up.  I
guess livin' in Eu-taw we're just more concerned about privacy;
it must date back to those polygamy arrests in the past (not
me!) or that we don't want anyone to know how much food and ammo
we have stored for the last daze.  But there's just something
about giving out the complete plans to someone's residence or
place of business that makes me cringe and sets my CYA alarm
to ringin'.  I sure wouldn't want someone giving out the plans
to my house.
 
Hey, I said this was a CYA all along, I'm not ashamed to admit
it.  We also stamp all photocopies of anything that goes out of
the collection with a big "WARNING: THIS MATERIAL MAY BE
PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT..."  It's the same thing.
 
I do feel I'm providing the highest level of access, I don't
have any problems with that at all.  Our Deeds of Gift are vague
(I didn't write 'em, I just fill 'em out) and barring any
specific restrictions, which we try like the dickens to avoid,
simply give title and rights to the collection to the
University.  Utah does have a GRMA act, but it doesn't say
anything about this issue nor has it been tested in court. So
then it's up to me.  Part of an archivist's job is making
judgements on what kind of restrictions should be placed on
materials, for whatever reason--rarity, fragility, copyright,
donor's wishes.  Would you let a patron run your original copy
of the Constitution through a document feeder on a photocopier?
No?  Then you're placing a restriction on access to that
collection.  Would you let a patron copy all of the letters in
your collection to and from a famous author and his wife for
publication in an unauthorized biography?  Or would you
require a letter of permission from the family?  That's a
restriction on access.  Archives are restrictive by their very
definition.  If not then why isn't the stuff in the circulating
stacks and why aren't we librarians?
 
And if someone gets the plans elsewhere, more power to them; I'm
not a policeman and certainly wouldn't call someone up and say
"Mr. Shady Dealings was trying to get copies of plans to your
building!"  Not my job and it wouldn't be ethical besides.
(See, I do have ethics!  So far I've resisted the temptation to
say "ethics, smethics!", it's just common sense.)
 
I wouldn't think of giving out donor information, just like we
don't give out phone numbers of the staff.  But I figure if
someone comes in and wants plans of a building at 222 South
State Street then they're gonna know how to contact the resident
of that building to get permission for copies.
 
This has been a good debate for me, it's made me go over this
policy in my mind and talk it over with my colleagues.  I have
to say I'm un-reconstructed, despite all the good arguments to
the contrary.  (It's sorta like debating with my wife, I
probably wouldn't admit it even if I was wrong)  I'm afraid of
boring everyone else on the list with this back and forth
between me and a few other folks--stop me before I post
again!--but I do appreciate all the comments on it.  I've been
forwarding messages (whoops, don't want to bring that up again!)
to my fellow supervisors and our director of Special Collections
for discussion in staff meetings.  Interestingly, the Conference
of Intermountain Archivists meeting in Reno next month is
largely about architectural collections, so this has been an
excellent preparation for me.  This is what I love about this
list!
 
And to Marcus in Portland, nyah nyah, did not!  (the dangers of
having two young daughters at home!)
 
Can you tell it's a slow day on the reference desk?
 
Thanks, seriously,
 
 
 
 
 
 
Roy Webb, Audio-Visual Archivist
Marriott Library Special Collections
University of Utah   (801) 581-8864
[log in to unmask]

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