Building Our Collections!

Posted on October 15, 2010 by

A blog post by Jobi Zink, senior collections manager.

Tuesday was our quarterly Collections Committee meeting. The Collections Committee is comprised of staff members, board member and lay leaders with expertise in conservation, local history, local Jewish history and library science.

As the collections manger, I compile the list of all of the donations that have come in since our last meeting. This is called the disposition list. Fortunately, I can generate a report from PastPerfect with just this information on it rather than hand typing the list myself. With the assistance of the donors who fill out biographical questionnaires and interns who do the data entry, I can also include basic background and biographical information with each donation. This provides context for many of the items and helps the Collections Committee make their decision.

The committee meets to discuss possible
donations to the Museum’s collections.

The disposition list includes the staff’s recommendation for each batch. Items that are offered can be accessioned into our permanent collection or they can be designated for one of our non-accessioned collections: study, vertical files, genealogy, library, oral history or A/V. Items can be returned to the donor if they do not meet our collecting criteria or duplicate materials already in the collection.

Debate around the table can often be very…lively to say the least!

The Committee reviews each item that has been offered to the museum. They ask important questions – Does it duplicate anything in the collection? Is it in stable condition or does it require conservation? Do we need to collect and document every immigration story? Do we have enough space in storage for the item? – and make their argument for the disposition of the items. Usually the Committee is in agreement, but occasionally they do need to vote on whether the items should be accessioned or not.

Committee Chair Duke Zimmerman takes
a closer look at a small set of coins.

In addition to the Disposition List, the Committee also discusses deaccessions (permanently removing items from the collection), potential purchases, conservation and other issues that affect our collections and storage facilities.

Jobi herself, working hard to document
the committee’s comments and decisions.
And in case you were wondering, the Committee did agree to accept the immigration documents from Lisa Sommer that I mentioned in my last blog post.

And in case you’re wondering who took all these lovely photos: former intern Sara! You may remember Sara as the poor intern who had to have her wisdom teeth removed this summer, forcing her to miss the previous collections committee meetings (which for her was a major bummer!) Happily, Sara has decided to continue her work at the JMM through volunteering and was thus able to attend this quarter’s meeting. And we’re certainly glad to have her very capable help!

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