Monthly Archives: July 2016

Cover All the Bases: Collections Insurance

It is quite common to organize insurance coverage for facilities, facility contents, staff healthy and safety, and vehicles, but unfortunately, it is less often purchased for collections of archival records. Archival collections may include items of high historical and monetary value and it is important to organize insurance coverage for these items in the event of an emergency or disaster.

Collections insurance is often not purchased for the following reasons:

  1. Too difficult to find an insurance company that will insure an archival collection
  2. Too difficult to determine the monetary value of original items
  3. Unable to secure funds to have a National Archival Appraisal Board (NAAB) certified professional appraise the collection
  4. Unsure how collections insurance can be used

Why is it important?

  1. 9150440989_b84a3d57d7_o.jpg

    Photo Credit: shakespearesmonkey

    It is recommended to insure items going on loan to other institutions in the event of the items being damaged or lost during transport, set-up or exhibition.

  2. It is also useful to have insurance for items that are frequently requested by researchers, handled by volunteers, or worked with by contractors.
  3. While insurance cannot replace original records, insurance can cover the costs of conservation treatment, rehousing, and digitization so that the records are once again accessible to staff and researchers.*

It is recommended to find an insurance broker that has worked with art, culture, and heritage institutions in the past as they may offer coverage for collections. If changing insurance brokers is not a feasible option, one may also inquire to their current insurance broker about ‘Valuable Papers Insurance’ to see if it is a good fit for their vital records or collection. This type of insurance coverage will reimburse the policyholder for the monetary value of papers if they are lost. These papers commonly include wills, trusts, or corporate charters. In order to be eligible to file a claim under this coverage, it must be proven that the papers were securely, and correctly housed (Valuable Papers Insurance, Investopedia).

*It is important to seek professional assistance to complete conservation treatment and digitization because mishandling the records may cause harm. Also, if the collection is insured the insurance company may require confirmation that the contractor hired to complete the work is a trained professional.

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South Peace Regional Archives Update

In March 2015, our archivist Leslie Gordon gave me a new project – adding new fonds descriptions to Alberta on Record. It had been several years since South Peace Regional Archives had been able to add new descriptions, so the representation of our holdings was far from being up to date.

As I began adding the new descriptions, I saw that much of the information that had already been entered was outdated. There were hundreds of digital files that had been uploaded in the wrong format and needed to be replaced. And because AOR had undergone significant changes in the past few years, the way the previous descriptions had been entered was not consistent with the way I was being instructed to enter the new information. After a few weeks, I asked our director, Mary Nutting, if it would be worthwhile to go through each of our descriptions, which numbered well into the thousands, and update them all to meet the current standards.

The project has taken nearly one and a half years, and there were times when it seemed as though I would never come to the end of the revisions. But apart from adding a few new PDF files, the work is now essentially complete! Since I had only been working at SPRA for a couple of months when I began working on our Alberta on Record descriptions, it was an excellent (and very thorough!) way to familiarize myself with our holdings, as well archival methods and terminology. Now that I’ve finished, it gives me a great sense of accomplishment to have worked with ASA in making this information available to the public.

Teresa Dyck
Administrative Assistant
South Peace Regional Archives

Common Ground: Disaster Psychology and Vicarious Resilience


Photo credit: Adrian Pantea

Facility restoration and collections conservation are two of the most commonly sought after disaster relief services for archives. Disaster relief services regarding staff’s health is equally as important as the state of the facility and collection. The emotional toll of disaster recovery and remediation can be a physical, as well as a mental burden on staff members. Psychologists are often called on scene during emergencies and disasters to provide emotional support to victims, survivors, volunteers and disaster relief operations workers. Psychological trauma, also known as vicarious trauma, secondary traumatic stress, and compassion fatigue is not an uncommon experience for persons after a major event.

It is recommended to hold staff training meetings to practice disaster response scenarios. While it is important to practice staff and collection evacuation techniques, it is also important to foster staff coping strategies, called ‘vicarious resilience’. Staff can be familiarized with coping strategies by referring to disaster psychology books, such as, Vicarious Trauma and Disaster Mental Health: Understanding Risks and Promoting Resilience by authors Gertie Quitangon and Mark Evces. Practicing the coping strategies will help staff mentally prepare for traumatic events as well as cope with the emotional trauma caused by these events after they have occurred.

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Disaster Preparedness Workshop


The ASA’s Education Committee, in partnership with the Flood Advisory Programme is pleased to announce the Fall Workshop:

Disaster Preparedness: Business Continuity and Disaster Psychology

This two-day workshop taking place on September 21 & 22 2016 at Hyatt Regency in Downtown Calgary. It will include sessions on Disaster Psychology by Dr. Charmaine Thomas, a hands-on workshop on Handling Wet Records presented by Emily Turgeon-Brunet, and a full day session on Business Continuity by Barry Manuel from Kildoon Emergency Management Consulting and Training.

This workshop will be for all ASA members in good standing. To allow all institutional members an equal opportunity to attend, a two-week pre-register session will happen from June 27 through July 8 which will allow each institution the opportunity to pre-register ONE individual from their institution to attend. As of July 11, registration will be opened up to all members of the ASA, and at that point multiple members from each institution may be registered. For members travelling, ASA has a significant travel grant available and will also be providing access to a hotel room block at the Hyatt for the nights of the 20th and 21st. The ASA is requesting a $100 deposit to hold your spot for the workshop, refundable upon completion.[1]

Pay attention to for further information on workshop schedule and instructors.

[1] Cheque is preferred for the deposit. If credit card payment is required a $5 processing fee will be taken off of the deposit upon refund.

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