Measuring by linear feet is the most common method of calculation in archival spaces. It’s an absolute necessity in libraries, museums and archives to know how much space could potentially be needed for a collection and new acquisitions.
9.5 boxes remain in this collection to be processed (yay! the half is because I am currently working on one…), but my space is running out (boo!). So, today I measure…Math Alert! By definition, linear feet is width divided by twelve times the number of boxes (W/12 x Items). According to my current calculations, the Allan Blank Collection stands at 280.8 linear feet, with 138 shelf space to grow…Eek! I haven’t asked for a new building in a while, is this a good time?
In the beginning the Allan Blank Collection had forty unprocessed containers. Nothing was organized and honestly archival staff was unsure what was even in the boxes (once, a coworker of mine found a pair of dentures in their collection…big ol’ nope from me. Thank you very much Mr. Blank for not doing that). Lucky finds along that way have been a manuscript page of Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in B minor, correspondence for Variations on a Turkish Lady, and recently I found an eight scene opera called The Magic BonBons. Now, with a bit of patience and planning, the collection stands at 117 boxes organized into ten categories. While this seems dramatic, and frankly it is, the housing is much safer for the works.
Libraries have limited areas for growth and knowing your space can really help with future planning. Linear measurements are a good place to start. Those nine and a half boxes will lead to more needed space, but hold secrets that can only enrich Special Collections.