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The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)

Do It Right the First Time
By Dick Crum, 1992

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Dick Crum 2005

Implications of setting up a specialized library/museum


1.  PLAN TO PLAN

The world of small, specialized libraries and museum collections is full of horror stories:

  • materials irretrievably lost, misplaced, ruined, destroyed, or stolen because of improper storage and security measures
  • materials difficult to classify or retrieve because of a prematurely designed, unprofessional cataloguing system
  • piles of useless materials donated by well-meaning but unenlightened donors; cannot be discarded because of obligation (PR) and legal stipulations concerning custody of gifts
  • piles of useless materials purchased randomly or impulsively without a carefully worked-out acquisition and budget plan targeted to the particular institution's goals
  • etc., etc.

Before you get burned with any or all of the above, be absolutely clear on (i.e., plan for):

  • The purpose(s) of your library/museum facility
    • which materials will you seek, accept, reject (define "folk" for yourselves)
      • folk/ethnic dance (instructions, theory books)
      • folk/ethnic music (written, recorded)
      • folk/ethnic costume (books, costume pieces)
      • folklore (oral literature)
      • national histories, geographies, descriptions

    • what types of materials
      • books
      • videotapes
      • records, tapes
      • periodicals, magazines
      • costumes for museum
      • costumes for loan or rent
      • musical instruments for museum
      • musical instruments for loan or rent

    • level of interest you wish to serve
      • research scholars
      • high-school students writing papers
      • group leaders looking for material
      • popular, general-public information source

    • lending, or in-house use only
      • if lending, insurance for loss, delinquency, and replacement costs
      • if in-house, provisions for photocopying, etc.

  • Sources of funding
    • grants
    • donation campaigns
    • membership dues
    • "Library Support Group"

2.  CONSULT EXPERTS

  • Library Science and museology are well-established disciplines, and every aspect has been thoroughly investigated at one time or another.
  • A professional knows infinitely more than you do; his/her tips will surprise you and save you time, money, and grief.

  • THE GREATEST MISTAKE OF ALL IS TO ASSUME THAT "ANYONE WITH COMMON SENSE CAN PLAN AND MANAGE A LIBRARY/MUSEUM FACILITY."
  • DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME – SAVE ON RE-DO TIME AND COSTS.

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