Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Construction Update and Lessons Learned

Written by Joy Scherry

We at the William C. Jason Library are coming to the end of a long journey.  As you may remember from a post last May, the library has been under construction in order to renovate the second floor and build a new archives suite on the first floor.  For the last several months we have endured the sounds of construction, clouds of dust, and the hustle of contractors pounding up and down the stairs. I am pleased to say, however, that the spaces are beginning to shape up, and the archives is awaiting only the final touches.

On a personal level, this project has led to a significant learning curve.  If I should ever have the opportunity to influence the construction of an archival facility again in my career, I now know how I would approach the process differently.

Lesson One: Schedule meetings with project overseers before and during construction to communicate archival requirements and stay on top of decisions. I sometimes found myself backed into a corner by contractors and planning managers and having to make choices on the spot. When all was said and done, poor planning led to unsatisfactory outcomes.

Lesson Two: Formal reports do not get read, and don't assume that emails are any different. It's as simple as that.

Lesson Three: Don't count on being asked for your opinion.  If there is a matter of critical importance, raise the issue with stakeholders yourself.  For example, there is far too much light in the storage room. This is due to the fact that the entire back wall of the room is made of windows in combination with halogen ceiling lights. I had communicated my concern for the brightness from the beginning, I but never made a tangible suggestion for improvement. At least not until it was too late.

Don't get the wrong idea. Errors were made, but catastrophes were avoided.  I hope that my archivist colleagues can learn from my experience.

At the end of the day, the archives has a new and definitely improved home that I am confident will allow it to enhance the services offered and play a more public role. I am looking forward to this new chapter!

Stay tuned to learn more about the new exhibit space coming soon too!

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