One of the things that archivists have to do is figure out the extent – the total measurement – of the archival materials that are in a series. We do this so our researchers will know that they’ll be getting a small amount of materials or a large amount of materials. If you think a bunch of archivists are running around with rulers, think again! We’ve got cheat sheets and short-cuts which are especially helpful to those of us who are mathematically challenged.
When we’re measuring though, there’s a basic rule of thumb – you measure the way the records lie. So, if records are filed front to back in the box, we know that’s usually 1 linear foot. If the records are filed from side to side – in a standard archival box – we know that’s 5 linear inches. If the records are flat in the box, you measure from top to bottom - basically the height of the materials. Yep, I went to school for this stuff.
When I teach training classes, I’m notorious for my bad puns and pop culture references – for some reason, I’m the only one laughing – anyway, when I get to the section on extents, I like to do a rip-off of the Rihanna/Eminem song “I Love the Way You Lie” to get my point across. It's a seriously good time. Unfortunately, the discussion usually veers off into a heated discussion of whether the records lie or lay. Lie or lay. Lay or lie. Who knows?!
But sometimes the records just flat out lie.
Or, at least, fib a little.
Today is NOT Max’s birthday but try telling that to his passport!