Documentary Heritage Program Site Visits
Free site visits are offered to historical records repositories in the Capital District through the Documentary Heritage Program. Site visits are also offered to non-profit organizations that are considering donating their records to a repository or forming their own archives.
What is a site visit?
During a site visit, the Regional Archivist visits the repository to gather information she needs to provide advice on topics such as organizing records, improving access to the records, appraising records, storage and handling, and serving researchers. Most site visits take two to four hours, depending on the size of the repository and the nature of the visit. An initial site visit usually entails a general needs assessment. The repository will provide the Regional Archivist with a general overview of the archival operation, including a tour of the public and storage areas. The Regional Archivist will later provide a written report with comments and recommendations for the general administration of the archives.
Institutions that have already had an initial site visit or that are well established may request a site visit focused on a particular issue. In these cases, a written report may not always be necessary.
The Regional Archivist is always available for follow-up after a site visit and for clarification of the report. Institutions may also request that the Regional Archivist attend a meeting of the Board of Trustees or other governing body after the report is written to present her findings and answer questions.
Why might my institution want a site visit?
If you are overwhelmed by your records collections, need some basic guidance, or are facing a problem you don’t have the expertise to deal with, a site visit may help. An institution does not need to be facing any specific problem to request a site visit. If your operation is running smoothly, but you would like recommendations for improvements or future planning, you may wish to request a site visit. Site visits are especially valuable for small to mid-sized repositories that may not have dedicated, professional archival staff. A site visit report can be helpful in setting institutional priorities or when applying for archival grants. An initial site visit by the Regional Archivist is now a prerequisite for applying for a DHP grant in the historical records strategic planning project category.
What does my institution need to provide?
This is a free service offered by the DHP, so no funding is required for a site visit. However, at least one staff person (paid or volunteer) will need to provide their time during the visit. The institution should also be open to the recommendations provided and dedicated to improving its historical records collections. The institution is in no way obligated to enact any of the recommendations, but you may be asked to provide follow-up information to the Regional Archivist on your accomplishments. Prior to the visit, you may be asked to provide the Regional Archivist with copies of brochures, policies and other documents. However, it is common for institutions requesting site visits to be without any formal policies, so do not let this deter you from requesting a site visit.
How do I request a site visit?
You may contact the Regional Archivist at any time to request a site visit. She will discuss your needs with you and determine whether a site visit is necessary or whether your questions can be addressed via telephone. The Regional Archivist, Susan D’Entremont, can be reached at (518) 438-2500 or by email.