Day 1: Orientation and Conservation Lab

Today, I spent three of my first four hours in orientation with my boss, Archives Collections manager Brandon Metcalf, and with Church History Department trainer James Findlay. Name badge: check. Parking: check. Forms: signed. Picture: taken. Videos: watched, etc. With the other hour I attended a collections staff meeting and I also witnessed a mind-boggling weekly process of collections intake and catalog assignments. The CHL receives donations and acquisitions EVERY DAY! So, to stay on top of things, a team assigns the intake folders/items a call number and designates them as library, archival, photo, AV, etc. and sends them for regular processing or for repairs. They do this first thing in the am and are finished in 20 minutes, or so!!

Here was the room where I had my employee training session.

Sharon Conference Room

All of the conference rooms inside of the CHL and Archives are named after Church historic sites. Sharon, VT is where Joseph Smith was born.


The room where I attended the staff meeting was called the Winters Quarters Conference Room.  Winters Quarters was the site near Omaha, NB that Mormon Pioneers settled in between their exodus from Illinois and their arrival in Utah. I saw all kinds of conference rooms during my orientation tour. I got a kick out of the titles.

Creek on N. Temple St.


After lunch, I started in the Conservation Lab, where I will be all week. First, I learned what everybody was working on. My contact, Katie, was removing glue from a manuscript, and the intern, Thomasina, was using an alcohol bath to remove dirt.

Water and alcohol baths


I learned that for different reasons, some papers won’t get wet, so if you start with an alcohol bath, the paper will absorb the moisture and the dirt will lift. The subsequent baths can be plain water. The rear document took 4 baths before the water even started to run clear. Ick!

After I learned something from each employee, I refreshed my memory on how to make four-flap boxes and the Photo Conservator showed me how to use the “creaser” and the gigantic paper/fabric cutter. It is the size of a twin bed!

Board/paper Creaser

Paper/fabric Cutter