Determine Equipment Needs & Solicit Donations

As you’re working with your partner organizaiton in planning the event, you’ll need to get a good sense of the size of the collection in order to estimate your supply needs for the workshop. If an entire film collection is stored on reels, for instance, you’ll need to plan for archival cores and cans for each item. In some cases you can reuse supplies, depending on the needs of the collection. Videocassette cases in good shape can sometimes be reused with a bit of cleaning and relabeling.

Questions for Partner Organizations

  • What are the re-housing and storage goals are for the collection?
  • Generally, how is the collection stored?
  • Are there items that have no housing within the collection?
  • Are the films on cores or reels?
  • Do you have supplies for processing and re-housing and/or can you purchase them?
  • If limited archival supplies are available, which items are the most important and should be prioritized to be transferred into them?

Ordering Supplies

In some cases, the organization may have a budget available to order supplies. (See the attached list for supplies necessary for film and video collections.) In some cases, members of your group may have access to funding or there is a source for funding. In other cases, you and the organization will need to work together to solicit donations from archival suppliers and fellow archivists. Utilize suppliers you or your organization has existing relationships with, send personalized letters and if possible, follow up with phone calls. SEE: Resources for sample equipment and donation letters.

Be sure to indicate the size of cans and cores (if working with film); archival grade plastic is preferred. Keep in mind that ANY supplies are better than none, but if you’re soliciting donations from suppliers you should be able to acquire polypropylene plastic cores and cans.

Keep track of your needs and what donations have been promised on a spreadsheet that is accessible to your planning team. Arrange to have supplies shipped directly to a contact at the work-site well in advance of the workshop. The week before the workshop, check in with this contact to see what has or has not arrived. At this point, take note of whatever is missing and try to bring items from your own organizations if possible to fill in the holes.

After the workshop, be sure to follow up with donors to thank them and let them know how the project went.

For the AMIA Independent Media Group’s Austin workshop, we were lucky to have local connections to organizations willing to lend a wide range of equipment for the day. Even without strong local connections, it never hurts to ask. Good sources for film equipment and other supplies would be:

  • Production companies
  • Film schools
  • Institutions or museums with large film collections
  • Public television stations

Soliciting Donations

The key to asking for equipment is to ask nicely, outline the exact purpose for the equipment, and specify the timeframe that the equipment will be needed. (A sample letter of request is included as an appendix.) Also:

  • Ask early (ASAP)
  • Remind (1-2 times in between)
  • Confirm (a week before pickup)
  • For any loaned equipment, you will want to create a loan agreement for each lender. This will ensure that everyone’s responsibilities are made clear. The agreement (included in the appendix):
  • Assigns responsibilities to a planning team member
  • Specifies contact information of lender and planning team member
  • Explicitly states pickup and return dates and times
  • Inventories the borrowed equipment to ensure its safe return