You may already have an organization in mind. Or you may be considering a workshop in conjunction with an event such as the annual AMIA conference.
What makes a good potential site?
You are looking for a not-for-profit organization that has a small-to-medium collections of audiovisual media—say, from 200 to about 5,000 items, and that has a defined unprocessed or minimally processed collection that needs attention. Based on past experience a six-hour workshop involving 15 archivists and 15 volunteers can result in inspection and basic cataloging for about 100-300 unprocessed items. The workshop is intended to provide basic information about the collection to enable the group to: understand risks to the items and item condition; identify the items of greatest research value and quality; set priorities for preservation and access; and communicate to others––for example, funders––the content and status of the collection.
You also want an organization that already has an existing network of volunteers who can be counted on to show up for the workshop—and are likely to want to continue with the work afterward. The organization should also be able to provide the necessary space (detailed below) free of charge.
If you’re holding the workshop in your own community, start by asking your personal contacts for possible organizations, of course. Other possible sources are:
- AMIA’s Independent Media Interest Group
- The Directory of Organizations of the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture (NAMAC)
- Society of American Archivists’ Directory of Archival Organizations in the United States and Canada
- Regional or local networks for historical societies, archives, museums and libraries
- Local Indy media or community media groups
As you compile the list, create a spreadsheet to which everyone in your planning group can add possible organizations and information as they collect it. The spreadsheet should include:
- Name of organization
- Location (especially if its a master list compiled over past and for future workshops)
- Website URL
- Contact person and information
Sample partner collection survey form: CAW_TOT_CUR_Partner_Survey_v2022
Sample inquiry letter: CAW_TOT_CUR_Inquiry_Letter
Communications with potential sites:
- Email an inquiry letter to potential sites. Be sure to be clear about your timeline (deadlines to respond, general timeline for proposed workshop). Include helpful information, such as:
- Link to CAW website
- Link to Flickr site
- Preservation resources (attachment included as appendix)
- Make follow up phone calls to potential sites.
- Make note of organizations who are not good fits as sites, but who may want to participate in the workshop as partners.
- Make note of recommendations for other organizations to contact and send inquiry materials to them, as well.
Determining site and partners for workshop:
Once you have a sense of who your partner organization might be, the following steps will help you confirm important planning details. If there are multiple possible partners, complete the following steps with each to determine your site and other partner organizations*.
- Collection Survey
Request any documentation the organization has of their collection. This can include spreadsheets, database exports, simple inventories, and physical descriptions of the collection. Ask the organization to send you photographs of the collection as it is currently stored.
- Site Visit
Conduct a site visit to meet with the organization in person, perform a cursory inspection of the collection, and scope out the space where the workshop can take place. Take note of available power outlets, wifi, and furniture such as folding tables and chairs to accommodate workshop participants. You want to be sure the space can comfortably hold the number of participants you are planning to include. You should ensure that the proposed space:
- Is available free of charge
- Is available two hours before the workshop and two hours after
- Ideally, it will be accessible at least one day prior to the workshop for set-up of tables, bringing in supplies, etc.
- Ideally, is close to collection storage; if not, there is easy access for bringing in materials (i.e., a loading dock or ramp, a freight elevator where relevant)
- Is adequately heated or air-conditioned, and adequately lit
- Has sufficient power outlets for 10-15 laptops, and a few lightboxes, viewers, etc.
- Has bathrooms and space for volunteers to eat lunch
- Ideally, has free parking and/or where relevant, access to public transportation
*In many instances one organization can partner to provide a space for the workshop, while other organizations do not have space, but collections. Consider including multiple partners and collections in order to provide the best space to host, as well as a diverse range of formats for your workshop.
Confirming Workshop Partners:
Once you have identified your partner organizations, confirmed location and date of the workshop, have each partner sign a project agreement. This document should clearly state the objectives and expectations of the workshop.
The major sections of the agreement include:
- listed goals of the workshop, specific day-of workshop tasks
- specific tasks the planning committee need to complete and supplies they are responsible for
- and specific tasks the partner(s) must complete and supplies they are responsible for
The agreement should be settled between relevant parties before moving forward with more intensive event planning.Project agreement example template: CA_TOT_memo_partners.pdf