Major Records Center project under way
About a year from now, if all goes according to plan, researchers, students, and other geology enthusiasts will be able to access thousands of IGWS records that haven’t been previously available for in-person inspection unless you worked at the Survey and knew where to look.
A team of IGWS geologists and archivists, supported by two recent federal grants, have been pulling open more than 400 file drawers and dozens of cardboard boxes and cataloging the many types of documents found within. Published maps, early map drafts, sketches, field notebooks, borehole records, gamma logs, driller’s logs, publication drafts, orphaned data, lunch receipts—they never know what they’ll find in any given drawer. Some are merely labeled, “Projects.”
“It is not unlike dealing with an estate,” said Jenna Lanman, IGWS archivist and collections manager and director of the grant-funded projects.
Archivist and Collections Manager Jenna Lanman goes through file drawers in the old Marching Hundred building. | Sara Clifford, IGWS
Over the years, when researchers left the Survey, or when their families went through their belongings after they passed, things that looked important to keep made their way into various storage places across six floors of the IGWS/Geology Building and parts of three other buildings. When two of those buildings became permanently unavailable to the IGWS, and the main building underwent major renovations from 2019-2021, all those boxes, plus dozens of full filing cabinets and map cases, were moved into the IGWS basement and into the Old Marching Hundred Hall across campus.
Late last year, a collapsible shelving system and lockable cabinets were installed in Room 1005 of the IGWS/Geology Building. (See photo at right.) This will become the Records Center, where petroleum well (PDMS) records, environmental and industrial minerals reports, aerial photographs, institutional history documents, a publications archive, and more will be stored and can be viewed by appointment. Locked cabinets in that climate-controlled room will house the Indiana Limestone Company’s photograph collection. The IGWS basement, or Records Center Annex, will house maps and other oversized materials in archival-quality cases.
For now, the IGWS basement is the staging area, where Collections Assistant Madeline Griem is taking records out of drawers to be inventoried, scanned, and inspected for damage, then rehousing them in more publicly accessible places. As the basement empties out and the new map cases are moved in, more materials will be brought over from Marching Hundred for sorting.
Currently, a team of IGWS geologists is working out of Marching Hundred to help Lanman and Griem find and describe records related to the areas they’ll be mapping next year. In addition to discovering useful research they might not have known existed, the geologist team is supplying descriptions and keywords that will make these records findable and reusable by others in the future.
In the meantime, Lanman has been building and populating an online catalog to keep track of every paper document, specimen, or sample in the IGWS’s collections, which include hundreds of thousands of items. That system, CollectiveAccess, will allow users to search all the collections online for specific items before making a trip into the building. CollectiveAccess will connect to ResourceSpace, the current hub of IGWS Digital Collections, to link physical objects to their digital surrogates and other related photos and research reports.
Lanman believes that the opening of the Records Center will be the first time this much of the Survey’s physical data will be available for public viewing. “Our goal is broad access, browsable anything. Apart from PDMS records that were open to the public, I think that the bulk of this … was buried in wherever there was room to stash it,” she said.