Friday, March 14, 2008

Library School 0, Brad's Girlfriend 1

Early this week, I decided that my current approach to scheduling offices' records-- i.e. "we need to bring you into compliance with State records law"-- wasn't working for me as well as I had hoped, and so chose to tackle the problem wearing my archivist hat instead. Instead of using the stick of compliance to get offices to go along with records scheduling, I would use the carrot of Immortality! (That sounds like a deranged Dungeons and Dragons item. Anyway.) To this end, I sent out emails to several academic departments, indicating that the UWM archives wanted to do an appraisal of those departments' records for addition to our collections and the historical record of UWM.

Amazingly, I actually received replies from a number of the emailed folks. Even more amazingly, the one surveyee thus far has been more than happy to give me subject files, syllabi files, departmental review stuff, and other types of records that I have been trying to get into the archives since I arrived at UWM. Even MORE more amazingly, when I talked about the prospect of writing records schedules for some of the non-archival files, they warmed to the topic! "We haven't known what to do with these," they said. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, it seems. Who knew?

Flash forward 20 minutes from that meeting. I tell my girlfriend, who is a Rhetoric Ph.D. student at UWM, about this epiphany of mine. The following exchange occurs:

Me: Isn't that cool?
Her: Um, Brad?
Me: ...What?
Her: That's called 'rhetoric'. Talking to people to get the desired result.
Me: ...Really?
Her: Yep. So I already knew what you just told me. But I knew you would get there eventually!
Me: ...Epic fail on my part, right?
Her: Pretty much, yeah.

So, yeah. I feel pretty dumb now. On the plus side, I am slowly but surely developing tactics to better cultivate donors. (At first, I thought the acquisition of University Records was going to be easier than manuscript curating because they HAD to give them to me. How naive I was in October.) On the minus side, this really IS the kind of thing they should be teaching us in Library School, rather than Dialog or semantic frames or similar nonsense. I want my money back. (Well, not really, I did learn stuff in my actual archives courses. On the other hand, it WAS a lot of money...)

Speaking of information architecture, I've just read David Weinberger's Everything is Miscellaneous and have some thoughts, but those are for a different post.