UK Libraries in collaboration three other ARL partners, UNC, Virginia, and the Ohio State University, will become the official United States archive of traditional (non-email) junk mail. The National Junk Mail Archive Collaborative (NJMAC) is the first focused attempt in the nation to collect, provide access to and preserve the everyday, everyman, ordinary experience of receiving junk mail.
In the next several months, the 4 universities will meet to sort out collecting responsibilities and selection methodologies. Deirdre Scaggs, along with Becky Ryder, have developed the basic categories for ingest:
1. Advertisements and catalogs
2. Charity/Donation requests
3. Insurance/credit card/home mortgage invitations
4. Materials not in “letter” or “package” formats, such as paper bags to fill with groceries, soap samples, event CDs, unsolicited gifts such as totebags or fleece blankets, etc.
To be eligible for the NJMAC, all junk mail must be received in a physical mailbox of some kind. The National Junk Mail Archive Collaborative will not include posted flyers, phone books left on porches or hang tag ads left on doors. The preliminary thinking is that two residences will be randomly selected from each county, each year, in the Commonwealth to supply the unopened mail. Once received in the Junk Mail Archive, the junk mail object (JAO), will be digitized, unopened, to document the style of delivery and the style of the message on the envelope or package.
Deirdre said that the JAOs will be processed according to DACS (archival processing standards) using Archivists Toolkit . Once accessioned and documented, student assistants will remove the contents of the JAO and enter information into the MYSQL NJMAC database. All sub-objects, such as personalized address labels, note pads, book marks, faux plastic credit cards, decals and other objects will be kept to together at the folder level. Once foldered, the JAOs will be kept in archival quality boxes, organized by county and date. Access to the contents will be through the NJMAC database.
Becky notes that the preservation of the various sub-objects, such as the nickels, dream catchers, address labels, key chains, ornaments, as well as the myriad of ink and paper formats will require special strategies to keep the JAO integrated, complete and authentic. “I expect that Kazuko will be making some very new-fangled containers for all this regalia,” Becky said. “The folders could get pretty bulky.”
“This is a feather in UK’s cap,” said Deirdre. “There will be storage challenges, for sure, but to be at the forefront of this dazzling new initiative, gives us energy to succeed.”
Doug Boyd has in an interest in collecting oral histories from random recipients of junk mail. Doug said, “I’d really like to record the reactions people have to receiving junk mail. What do they do with it? How much is kept? This is valuable research data for future Ponzi schemers.”
The first deposit into the National Junk Mail Archive Collaborative will occur on April 1, 2011.
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