Friday, November 13, 2009

CSI: Archives

As promised, the second post in as many days! (Man... I hope you guys don't think I'm making a habit of this.)


So, Tuesday morning, I am having a meeting with the Library Staff Association here to plan our annual holiday party. At the conclusion of this meeting, my student informs me that while I was in said meeting, someone from the bookstore called looking for information about the school's logo, specifically when the various iterations thereof are adopted. He also mentioned something about police officers, to which I said to myself, "He must have heard wrong. Police Officers don't go to the university archives." I have him look it up in a couple of locations while I'm at lunch, planning to call the bookstore director when I get back.

Returning from lunch, it turns out that my student got the boxes, but apparently did not get the memo that I wanted him to, you know, actually look in them. Sigh. I do the research myself, double check our course catalogs for the appropriate branding, make some photocopies, and call the bookstore director. "Great!" says he. "The officers and I will be right over."

Me: "Wait, what?"

As it turns out, the police officers are real! They are in from Los Angeles investigating a cold case from around 1985. I don't know many of the details, nor am I probably allowed to mention them even if I did, but apparently they recently discovered a portion of a missing person's anatomy in a ditch, wrapped in... wait for it... a University Bookstore bag. They brought pictures to show to me and the director of the bookstore. Ahem: EEEEEW.

The reason they need to talk to me is because the logo appears on one side of the bag, and identifying when said logo was in use is apparently critical to determining the possible range of dates the, um, separation could have happened. What a great opportunity to explain about archives! Sort of! I walk them through the various documents, talk about their provenance and their authenticity, and help them with the interpretation thereof. They seem very interested in what I have to say about the logo while I am trying to not throw up in my mouth a bit, take down my statement and my contact info, make an oblique reference to the possibility that I will have to fly down to LA as an expert witness, and thank me for my time and assistance. I am left more than a little nonplussed.

I have to say, I've seen a lot of weird stuff in my archival career thus far-- for example, the University of Maryland College Park Archives has a portrait of Spiro Agnew made out of feathers-- but I think providing evidence that a bookstore bag is from the appropriate time period based on when the logo was or was not in use is the strangest thing I've yet had to do. They don't really prepare you for this sort of thing in Library School (and as such I hope I'm not doing anything wrong by posting this here! It was just such a surreal experience that I had to share it. Hopefully I'm being vague enough that I'm not contaminating anything).

One does wonder what whoever did this was thinking when they wrapped up said body part in a bag with location-specific branding on it. Clearly the person was not exercising... *puts on sunglasses* Respect des Fonds.

YEEEEAAAAAHHHHH


(If you don't get that, go here. You're welcome.)

16 comments:

現在的... said...

great ...........................................................

TalithaDillingham0 said...

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每個人生命中都可能遇到貴人,這些貴人不一定真的尊貴,他可能是陌生人,也可能是你的敵人。..................................................

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困難的不在於新概念,而在於逃避舊有的概念。......................................................

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又陽 said...

以簡單的行為愉悅他人的心靈,勝過千人低頭禱告。........................................

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