Tuesday, January 31, 2017

First books in the vault

January 2017 has been an eventful month at the Northwest Railway Museum. Not only has staff moved into the new Railway Education Center, but the first books were cataloged and placed in the new archival vault.

Meet Tom and Teena Kracht, long-time members and volunteers at the Northwest Railway Museum.  This month, just shy of the Museum's 60th anniversary, Tom and Teena symbolically placed three volumes of Kirkman's Science of Railways on the new library shelving. 

Readers of this Blog will probably be surprised to learn that it was Teena Kracht who first shaped the image of the new library and archives.  "A few short years ago" as a library science student at a local community college, Teena brought fellow students to the Museum to help catalog books.  As the needs of the collection were discussed, the idea of a vault took shape.  Later, a formal needs assessment funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and written by Randy Silverman articulated the details of exactly what would be required to "do it right."  And then Tom and Teena were the first donors to support the new vault.  Thank you Teena, and thank you to Tom, too, for the many publications you have helped catalog, and for your support in creating today's archival vault!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Compact rolling shelving

The new Railway Education Center.
The new Railway Education Center was dedicated in October, but over the last few months finishing touches have been applied to prepare it for use. Some of these "extras" are rather unique and unusual features long planned for this facility, and for some their inclusion may feel almost anticlimactic, but planning, designing, funding, and constructing has been a 25 year effort. 

Beginning in December 2016 special high density rolling shelving was installed in the archival vault. The project was completed last week, a major milestone for a project that was first conceived in 1992. 

The archival vault is a special windowless room with precise temperature and humidity control coupled with a clean-agent fire suppression system.  These features were among the key recommendations contained in the needs assessment funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and performed by noted preservation librarian Randy Silverman.  For some, these features may seem rather esoteric, but for archivists and curators it is vital for the preservation of documents and artifacts. Yet archival space is valuable so achieving maximum efficiency is in everyone's interest.  

An installer from WorkPointe levels the
rails that will soon support the compact
rolling shelving carriages.
Compact rolling shelving allows a single aisle to service a roomful of shelves, which nearly doubles a room's capacity.  Each section of shelving is mounted on rolling carriages that can be positioned to provide an access aisle.  Rails were set into the vault floor and each section carriage was independently installed.  A hand wheel on the end of each carriage and shelf assembly is used to transmit propulsion to the carriage wheels.

Installation of new upper
The shelving itself is rather conventional, but features a powder-coated finish that is scratch-resistant and low-VOC (volatile organic compounds).  The system was designed and built by SpaceSaver, and installation was funded in part by 4Culture who approved two Heritage Equipment grants in support of the project. The system was installed by WorkPointe who also arranged for a local medical center to donate the lower sections of these almost new shelves. The upper sections - to bring the total useful height to 10 feet - were purchased new.

Installing linoleum flooring.
The room itself was carefully designed to exclude any water pipes from adjacent walls or ceilings. Under the gypsum board walls a monolithic vapor barrier was applied and sealed around the frames of all room penetrations. Interior surfaces were coated with low-VOC paint, and linoleum flooring was selected for its chemical stability.  

Completion of the archival vault and the installation of the first seven shelving carriages represents a remarkable milestone in development of the Northwest Railway Museum.  Almost 3,000 linear feet of shelving now stand ready to accept small objects, photographs, maps, drawings, books and more.  This milestone also represents the beginning of the real work: completing the sorting, cataloging, and finding aids for a collection 60 years in the making.