First, let’s chat. We want to get to know you, learn about the kinds of records you possess, answer any of your questions. Let’s begin by having you fill out the record donation form here.
If you’re comfortable with donating your records, we’ll ask you of your records. It’s simple and straightforward – we just need the story of your records documented onto the form to make our lives easier. Don’t worry, we will gladly walk you through it if you want.
Once you send us the completed form, we’ll take a look and connect with you if we need to assess your records in person to get a better understanding of their scope. Of course, we’ll prioritize coming to you to do a site visit.
If we conduct a site visit to wherever the records are stored, we’ll be taking a look at your records in person. We’ll conduct our own assessment and we kindly ask for your assistance when necessary.
After our archivists finish their assessment, MiCA will decide to move forward with your donation if your records fit within the scope of our mandate. If they do, we will contact you to negotiate a Deed of Gift, a legal contract where you officially transfer ownership of the records to MiCA so that we may preserve them into the future. If they do not, we can discuss with you where they may be more appropriate and guide you with next steps.
Once the Deed of Gift has been signed, your records will be transported to MiCA’s facilities. We will then begin the process of organizing and describing them for users. The description of your records (called a finding aid) available on our online description database for all users to browse.
We will also decide at this point if anything will be digitized to be uploaded onto our digital platforms.
The physical records will be stored onsite (University of Toronto) and can then be accessed by any future user according to the access controls set in the Deed of Gift. Access is by appointment and monitored by a member of MiCA’s staff.
And, of course, you can visit us and access your records anytime!
Preparing and preserving your records
People often have a tendency to organize their records before donation because they think it will help the archivist understand the full picture or find certain records more easily and/or they may feel embarrassed about their supposed “messy” records.
This is far from the truth. In fact, archivists will generally tell you not to reshuffle or reorganize your records right before donation because the way they currently exist provides a wealth of knowledge and context about the records themselves, how they were used, and the creator’s thought process. So, don’t worry about trying to make your records organized or neat for us – we actually prefer them just the way they are!
Although we prefer that you do not over-organize your records, we do ask that you label the containers that house your records – boxes, binders, albums, electronic file folders, bags, etc. This means that you will have to go through them briefly to understand what is in them but try not to be tempted to re-organize. Try to also note the oldest and most recent date of the records when rifling through. Once you have an idea of what is in the container as well as a rough date range that the records may represent, stick a label on the container and write a brief description/title of the contents of the container and their date range. Though labels are preferred, you can also write on the box, bag or rename the electronic file folder itself (please do not write on binders, albums or on the records themselves). For example: a box of postcards and letters dating from 1964-1988 should be labelled “Postcards and Letters 1964-1988.”
Duplicates and copies
It is not uncommon to have copies of original materials in your possession. Perhaps, you have photocopies of photographs and/or valuable documents, 3 copies of the same CD or even 5 copies of the same digital photograph in your hard drive. Copies, or duplicates, are typically not of archival value and MiCA will not take them, especially when we are acquiring the original.
Try to make sure that all the digital files that you want to keep don’t also exist in paper form. Most archives only accept one copy, either digital or paper.
PREPARING DIGITAL FILES
If you want to preserve your digital files and get them ready for transfer to an archives, you first need to figure out what you have.
• Take an inventory
• Determine what’s important
• Organize into folders
• Upload to a harddrive
• Make three copies
Take an inventory of where you’re storing all your stuff. Is there anything on CDs or DVDs? USB flash drives? External hard drives? Cloud technology (i.e. Google Drive, DropBox, etc)? It’s important to figure out where everything is before you start any organizing.
Next, you need to determine what’s important and gather all of those files into one place, preferably on a hard drive (either an external one or your desktop). Throwing everything into Google- Drive, onto CDs/DVDs or flash drives isn’t the safest thing for your files: cloud technology isn’t always reliable as people often forget their passwords while CDs/DVDs and flash drives wear out after multiple uses.
Organize them into folders according to subject, event, chronologically by date (YYYYMMDD) or however else makes sense to you. Try to make sure folders and files have concise yet descriptive names and remove symbols (i.e. _ or ! or ‘ etc.) as well as spaces in the titles. It’s often best if you add a date to the files and folders, even if just the year. For example, a folder can be titled “VolunteerWork2001” or specific files can be titled “Charity- BallPosterFinal20010510” or “AnimalShelterSchedule200103”.
Once this main hard drive is organized, you’ll need to make two more copies of it in order to back up all your files effectively, which is simply a best practice for digital preservation. The second and third copies/backups can be external hard drives or perhaps, the second one can be an external while the third is cloud technology. In any case, one of the two backups should be a physical electronic backup – a hard drive — and best practice is to keep it in a different location from the main hard drive. For example, you might want to leave it at work, give it to someone you trust or perhaps store it in a third-party storage facility. This is to ensure that if the main hard drive is destroyed in an accident, fire or other natural disaster, the hard drive backup will be saved.
What is a record?
A “record” almost anything that has some sort of information or data recorded on it and in almost any medium or format possible.
The record should have content, and its context of creation should ideally also be known. Some examples, in both digital and physical formats, include photographs, videos (ie. DVDs, VHS, etc), letters, draft manuscripts, CDs, hard drives, audiovisual materials (i.e. cassettes, film, etc), oral histories, meeting minutes, reports, shopping lists, and so on.
Summary: a record is almost anything as long as we have some idea of its context (i.e. who made it, when it was made, why it was made, and so on) and it can present some kind of information to the viewer – whether physically or digitally.
At MiCA, we’ll do our best to accommodate records in any medium, but we are limited by current technologies and resources.
Donating your records
We invite all those interested in donating their records to fill out the Expression of Interest for Donating Records to MiCA form.
By completing this form, our team can gain a better understanding of the specific nature of your potential donations and contact you accordingly.
Record donation process
CONTRIBUTE TO MiCA
MiCA counts on the generous contributions of its communities to document and preserve the rich histories of Muslims in Canada.
On this page you will find relevant information to your interest in contributing to MiCA.
Emails are certainly of archival value and most of us use email for both business and personal affairs.
Many important decisions are made through email. Various topics related to an individual’s work and personal life can be revealed in email threads covering a long period of time.
When it comes to organizing them, as discussed above, you’ll need to categorize emails into folders by either subject, project, organization, event or however makes sense to you. Give folders concise and descriptive titles. Adding dates to the folders would also help. When they’re organized into folders, it helps archives locate and understand the contexts leading up to an event you organized, what kinds of things you talk about with your sister, or how you carry out your work with your colleagues. Instead of an archivist scrolling through your single Inbox folder of 10,000 emails, an organized folder system will make it a lot easier for us. It’s important to note that these are best practices and guidelines, and that you should aim to do what is within your capacity. If you can’t locate 3 separate hard drives, that’s okay! Stick to two, if that’s easier. And, of course, if you have any further questions, need assistance with any of these guidelines or we haven’t provided comments for a type of record in your possession, please connect with us.
Preparing cassettes, VHS, and other media formats
If you have any tapes (whether videotapes, VHS, cassettes tapes, etc) it is best to store them in a cold, dry place and away from any heat such as sunlight, lamps, radiators, and other electronic devices. Also, it is wise if you do not play them as constant use will wear out the tape. If you’ve ever gotten any of your tapes digitized, please always let the archivists know; they may choose to acquire both the digitized version and the original.
Advising and/or mentoring MiCA
The MiCA team welcomes those who have experience and interest in advising or mentoring MiCA towards its goals of preserving the rich histories of Muslims in Canada.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org regarding advisor and mentorship opportunities.
The following references were vital in the creation of this page of information and resources:
“Donate Your Records.” The ArQuives, n.d. https://arquives.ca/clga-collections/donate-your-records/.
Dictionary of Archives Terminology, s.v. “archives,” July 2020, https://dictionary.archivists.org/entry/archives.html
Thompson, Samantha. “Why Don’t Archivists Digitize Everything?” Archives @ PAMA (blog). Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives (PAMA), May 31, 2017. https://peelarchivesblog.com/2017/05/31/why-dont-archivists-digitize-everything/.
Whittenburg, Zachary. “What Archivists Want You To Know About Preserving Your Records.” Dance Magazine. Dance Magazine, April 10, 2020. https://www.dancemagazine.com/dance-archives-2645671107.html?rebelltitem=5.