“Mother isn’t quite herself today…”

Andy Poore
Curator
Special Collections
Mooresville Public Library
apoore@ci.mooresville.nc.us

We all have a skeleton or two sitting around in a closet, a room, or the basement that we have had for years but now it is just collecting dust. What do you do with that skeleton that has been sitting in your basement for years when it is no longer needed? You donate it to your local archives? Do you dress it up and put it at your visitor desk? Do you dress it up as yourself and put it at your desk? This is the quandary that our local hospital found themselves in when they need to find a new home for their old teaching skeleton.

Several years ago, I received a phone call from the PR director of our local hospital with what she called, “an unusual question.” Her question was regarding an interesting piece of local history that she thought I would be interested in and something that might be of interest in adding to the Special Collections. She knew that I already had a diverse collection of items from the hospital that they had donated to the Special Collections over a two-year period prior to her call of which this item would be a part of that collection in her opinion. What she wanted to add to that collection was the teaching skeleton that was once used at the hospital’s school of nursing. The skeleton, female, was purchased in 1925 for the school to help teach new nurses anatomy and later as a teaching tool for school children regarding health and healthy bones. She was purchased in the days before there were plastic skeletons so the hospital’s concern was that they could not jut dispose of her in normal hospital fashion while at the same time they could not just place her in the dumpster as they did not want that image on the front page of the local paper. Therefore, they decided that it was time for her to find a new home and the Special Collections was first on the list.

Naturally, how could anyone say no when being offered a skeleton? After all she would fit into the Special Collections, albeit in a unique way from the normal photographs, documents, books, papers, and maps since she was part of the local history and part of the history of the hospital. I was not sure what exactly I would do with a skeleton as it is not something that is normally found in Special Collections although she would give a new meaning to genealogical research. The given was that I could not turn down the offer as the Special Collections; the quandary was what to do with her once she was here, and more to the point, how to get her here. I had to do some research on how to bring her to the library since it did mean transporting human remains. After a lot of questions, strange looks, a few “questions” from our local police chief it was determined that I could safely transport her without the use of a hearse; then it became fun.

On the day that she was to be donated to the Special Collections I met the hospital PR and general staff and the local paper at the hospital. Naturally, we had to have a photo or two for the local paper which normally would not be of much interest on a normal day; however, the Fates have a sense of humor as this group assembled bore a passing resemblance to the Addams Family 30 years later. The group consisted of one lady who was just over 5 feet tall with salt and pepper hair who resembled grandmama, another who looked a bit liked Wednesday, a gentleman who was all of 7 feet tall and who had more than a passing resemblance to Lurch, the official hospital lady dressed in all black with long black hair and myself dressed uncannily as Gomez. The fun began when we all carried the newly acquired skeleton out of the radiology building. As the procession passed through the lobby a few shocked looks were expressed by patients in the lobby with more to come when she was strapped into the passenger seat of my car for the trip to the library. She was a quite passenger as she just sat there and smiled at passersby. At the library, we employed a modified documents cart and Ethafoam supports and she made her way into the library. Yet the big question was amazingly not how to store her or where but instead what to do with her: Thank you Alfred Hitchcock!

The time she came to the library it was also the 50th anniversary of Psycho and the answer was clear – Mother! My idea was that since she was a teaching skeleton then she could still teach. She would introduce a whole new generation to this movie classic while at the same time telling of her history with the hospital and training several generations of nurses. Therefore, I found a periwinkle dress and order a “Mother” wig from a Halloween store including a sign that read Bates Motel for her lap and into the Special Collections she went. She was such a hit for the month of the anniversary that she now comes out every Halloween to take her place in the Special Collections all the to admiration of kids, the thrill of nursing students, and the surprise shock of parents. She has been the most interesting and most popular addition to the Special Collections so much so that our new retirement policy is that you do not retire, instead you gradually become item in the Special Collections.

Skeleton
The original teaching skeleton used in the nursing school of the local hospital, after being donated to Special Collections at the Mooresville Public Library. Photo courtesy Special Collections at the Mooresville Public Library.
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Becker Archives Digital Content Organization Plan

Stephen Logsdon
Archivist
Washington University School of Medicine
logsdons@wustl.edu

The Becker Archives Digital Content Organization Plan (BADCOP) outlines the file-naming convention used for all digital content maintained by the Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives at the Washington University School of Medicine. To explain how it works, I want to first draw your attention to the ornate document labeled Number 1 which is the US Army commission given to Dr. William Beaumont during the War of 1812. This document can be found in the William Beaumont Papers at the Becker Library. President James Madison signed this commission appointing Dr. Beaumont as a surgeon in the Sixth Regiment of Infantry in the US Army on December 2, 1812.

Imagine that a patron wanted a scanned copy of this document in PDF format. Once you scan it for them, you’ll need to provide a filename for the PDF on a screen that looks similar to the image labeled Number 2. What filename do you give it? Should the filename begin with “William Beaumont” or “Beaumont-William”? Should you only say it’s a commission, or should you be more specific and indicate it’s a surgeon’s commission in the US Army? Should James Madison’s name be in the filename anywhere? Should you include the date of the document in the filename? All of these questions are important to consider when choosing a filename.

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The Becker Archives Digital Content Organization Plan, with the unfortunate acronym BADCOP, takes the guessing game out of assigning filenames because this plan centers on a methodical file-naming system. The basic premise of BADCOP is that the organization of digital content should follow the principle of archival arrangement (the organization and sequence of items within a collection). All filenames assigned using this method will use a series of symbolic letters and numbers that represent the scanned file’s arrangement within a collection. The BADCOP-compliant filename that I would assign to this document is labeled image Number 3: PC012-S05-B20-F03.pdf.

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Briefly looking at this filename, you’ll see that it does not say it’s a surgeon’s commission, it does not include William Beaumont’s name or James Madison’s, and it does not even contain the date of the document.  However, if you look closer at the filename, all of that information is included.  The filename PC012-S05-B20-F03.pdf is a code, and you can see how that code breaks down into identifiable pieces in the much abbreviated view of the finding aid to the William Beaumont Papers represented in image Number 4.

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PC012 is the collection code for Personal Collection #12, the William Beaumont Papers. S05 stands for Series #5, which is the series in which the commissions are located. B20 is Box #20. F03 is folder #3, which contains the 1812 surgeon’s commission signed by President Madison.

There are numerous justifications for using BADCOP, but the most important reason to implement this file-naming convention is to answer this question: Once you have scanned this document, and you have assigned it the filename PC012-S05-B20-F03.pdf, how are you ever going find that PDF again? The answer to that question is the beauty of BADCOP. Let’s say several years from now, a different patron asks you for a PDF of that exact same surgeon’s commission. How would you find it amongst the 1000s of digitized images on your computer, server, or wherever you store your digital content?

You would find the PDF of the surgeon’s commission in exactly the same way as you would if you were looking for the original physical copy of it. You should use the finding aid for the William Beaumont Papers. Don’t start this search with your digital files. Instead, go to the finding aid first and search for the description of the item you are looking for, which in this case is the 1812 surgeon’s commission. Once you find it, then you have also identified the BADCOP filename because you know its organizational location in the collection. It’s the third file of Box 20 in Series 5 of the Beaumont Papers. You can then create that corresponding filename on the fly while you’re looking at the finding aid: PC012-S05-B20-F03.pdf.

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Now that you know the filename you need, you are sufficiently prepared to find it amongst all your digital content. The ease of finding the correct digitized file is illustrated by the filenames listed in image Number 5. In this case, you have scanned only six documents in that collection. Picking out the filename you need is rather easy in this case.

Imagine that instead of six scanned documents, you had scanned 600 documents from this collection. If you have assigned BADCOP-compliant filenames to each file, all 600 scans will line up in your file directory in exactly the same order as your finding aid lists them. So all of your scanned documents from Series 3, are going to follow all of those from Series 1 and Series 2. All of the scans from Box 13 are going to be found after all the scans from Box 1 through Box 12. This means there is no need to open up random files on your computer from this collection to check if it’s the specific document you want. Because you have the filename in hand, you know the exact file you are looking for. So whether there are six, 600, or 6000 PDFs from this collection, finding the exact file you need takes only seconds, and that’s what makes BADCOP such an effective tool to use.

For more information about the BADCOP file-naming convention, visit:

https://becker.wustl.edu/resources/arb/policies/becker-archives-digital-content-organization-plan

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Commission signed by President James Madison appointing Dr. William Beaumont as a surgeon in the Sixth Regiment of Infantry in the US Army on December 2, 1812. Personal Collection #12, William Beaumont Papers, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine.