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Frequently Asked Questions

How we work, what we do, and our approach

  • What’s an archivist?
    Not sure? You’re not alone. Archivists are professionals who identify, preserve, organize and make accessible records of enduring value. Whether we work for individuals, institutions, governments or corporations, we create systems to ensure that cultural and historical records are available to those who need to use them.
  • What kind of training do professional archivists receive?
    Archivists may have graduate degrees in history (MA/PhD), library and information science (MLIS) or archival management. In addition, many graduate history and library science programs offer specialized archival coursework and certification as well. Regardless of academic path, archivists are highly organized and precise individuals committed to managing the long-term preservation and access to cultural and historical materials.
  • What’s your philosophy as an archivist?
    Following best practices in the archives and preservation field, our approach in providing archival, collection management and home inventory services is holistic, practical, responsible, simple and straightforward. We want clients to feel confident that our services will ensure the responsible stewardship of their collections and property. We listen carefully and make no judgements. We suggest customized solutions that match your needs, expectations and goals. We’re patient hand-holders, especially if clients feel overwhelmed.
  • When do I need professional archival services?
    When the organization of your studio or collection has you overwhelmed, frustrated or feels beyond your control, we can provide professional advice, guidance and support. We’ll review your space, collection housing, cataloging system, storage and environment to make recommendations and implement the best possible conditions for your studio or collection needs.
  • What do you offer that I couldn’t do myself?
    Experience and expertise. As a collection manager in a prestigious corporate archive, I’ve overseen and managed the care, arrangement, description, housing, labeling and cataloging of archival records, artifacts, photographs and works of art in a wide range of media. I’ve created inventories and finding aids to enable access to these varied collections. I can devise a solution that’s right for you. I have experience working with professional art movers and handlers to safely pack, crate, transport and install works, and with architects, designers, facility managers, and security specialists on the design and construction of archival facilities. I bring the knowledge and skills learned in an institutional setting to help clients with their artworks and personal collections.
  • Are you insured?
    Yes. Shelley Diamond Archival Solutions carries general and professional liability insurance.
  • Do you provide supplies?
    We order all archival and preservation supplies recommended for projects (e.g. folders, sleeves, boxes, etc.). Expenses for all supplies are billed to the client at cost.
  • Do you have a brochure I can download?
    A general homeower's inventory brochure (on inventories for insurance purposes) can be downloaded from my Family Estate page. If you would like one mailed, please complete my contact form and include your address with your request.
  • What’s your focus working with artists?
    Our emphasis is helping you feel more in control of your work and the “paperwork” normally generated in managing your business. We begin with creating a detailed inventory of your work. This might include devising an easy-to-use numbering system or refining your current system to help track the location of individual pieces. We recommend creating an uncomplicated recordkeeping system to efficiently organize invoices, contacts, consignments, sales, exhibition history, etc. It’s simple: better studio organization helps you manage your business and legacy.
  • What kinds of collections do you work with?
    We work with all types of collections: fine art, decorative art, photography, antiques, collectibles, memorabilia, manuscripts. Reach out to us to discuss what you collect and how we can help you.
  • What’s your focus working with collectors?
    We believe most collectors want to feel secure knowing they can easily locate pieces in their collection. This is particularly critical for collectors with multiple residences. There’s no need to experience anxiety searching for misplaced works. We’ll ensure that your inventory system inspires confidence and is easy to use. We can assess your housing and storage environment to recommend safe and practical solutions for the long-term care of your collection. We also consider how New York City’s notoriously overheated apartments and seasonal temperature and humidity swings may affect individual works. Additionally, we can help manage your documentation by devising a system to organize sales receipts, gallery/dealer contact information, appraisals, conservation reports, loan documents, insurance, provenance and other significant information related to your collection.
  • What’s your focus working with an artist’s estate?
    One of the major tasks of an estate is creating a complete record of the artist’s work and personal papers. This can feel overwhelming for heirs or executors, especially if the estate contains uncatalogued work and source material. We can help by creating an inventory and a finding aid of significant papers, both of which determine the monetary value of the estate and are essential if heirs or executors intend to place the estate with an institution. An artist’s estate inventory will include basic descriptive data about individual works, as well as documentation about installation, maintenance, ownership, exhibition history, copyrights, trademarks and other intellectual property. We believe cataloging an artist’s papers – letters, catalogs, photographs, speeches, news clippings, writings – is critical to understanding and protecting the artist’s oeuvre and legacy, and to enable future scholars and critics to understand the artist’s historical and social context.
  • What’s involved in engaging Shelley Diamond Archival Solutions?
    We begin with a free phone consultation to get an overview of your needs and to identify your goals, expectations and concerns. We follow-up with a site visit to evaluate your studio or collection and related issues. We prepare a written proposal that details the scope of the job and cost. The proposal will prioritize tasks and can be adjusted or modified to fit your goals. The steps will be practical and attainable. We’re can also implement steps in stages to match your budget. We ask clients to sign a services agreement with Shelley Diamond Archival Solutions that ensures we’re all on the same page. You’ll know what’s involved and what services will be provided.
  • Where is work conducted?
    All work is conducted on-site at your studio, storage space or home. We bring any tools and small equipment required to conduct work, unless the project dictates more elaborate equipment or arrangements. We prefer a dedicated work area and use of a client’s Wi-Fi, as well as the flexibility to leave some materials on-site through the duration of the project.
  • Why create an estate inventory?
    A clearly written estate inventory is a fantastic tool when planning your estate. It is a descriptive list as well as a visual record of your personal property assets. It can be used to determine the quantity and value of property and helps centralize critical documentation such as sales receipts and appraisals. In addition, when it includes your wishes regarding the disposition of individual items, it reduces the potential for confusion or conflict amongst your beneficiaries when your estate is being settled. But not everyone proactively plans for the distribution of their personal property. Prepared after the death of a loved one, an estate inventory helps executors and beneficiaries manage the overwhelming process of going through a loved one’s home and deciding what to keep, what to donate, and who will get what. It can also be used for insurance purposes.
  • When should I make an estate inventory?
    Arguably, the best time is when you’re planning your estate in tandem with decisions about your financial assets. But beneficiaries and executors can also benefit from creating an inventory after the passing of a loved one during the difficult process of evaluating the contents of their house or apartment and disbursing their belongings.
  • What’s included in an estate inventory?
    It’s up to you. Everyone’s needs are unique. You can use your inventory to list your most important or valuable personal belongings – e.g. fine jewelry, furniture, artworks, decorative art pieces, collections, books, sporting equipment – and designate which beneficiary will receive them. Executors and beneficiaries can also use an estate inventory to identify a loved one’s most important or valuable belongings and those with sentimental value. In addition, if you’re facing an entire house or apartment filled with personal belongings, you can use the inventory as a tool to designate what will be retained, donated, or discarded.
  • Why hire Shelley Diamond Archival Solutions?
    Compiling an estate inventory is time-consuming, and you may not have the time or inclination to undertake the task. As inventory specialists, we can create one easily and effectively. You may feel that compiling the inventory is simply too daunting, too emotional. But even if you decide not to hire us, we want to encourage you to create your own.
  • How do we prepare your estate inventory?
    We bring minimal tools into a home to conduct an estate inventory: an iPhone (for photography), a notebook computer, and a portable scanner (if applicable for the job). We may bring archival supplies as needed (e.g. labels, tags, archival storage boxes). Access to a client’s Wi-Fi is required to utilize our cloud-based inventory software. We work room-by-room photographing and describing individual items, inputting information into the online inventory. After photography and description is complete, we can attach relevant documentation about individual items such as sales invoices, appraisals, insurance data, or provenance information to the inventory, or scan items if they’re not in digital form. We work independently but may require assistance or direction from clients during the inventory process. A more orderly home facilitates the most efficient use of our time, although we know this isn’t always possible. When the documentation phase is complete, we review the inventory with clients to make edits or changes. Upon client sign-off we “deliver” the inventory. This includes transferring access to the inventory to you, helping set up your cloud account, and training you on use and navigation.
  • What kind of software is used?
    We use a cloud-based collaborative website platform. It’s essentially an online database and spreadsheet. Customized for each individual client, our inventory templates capture vital information about your property. It’s visually clean, very flexible, and intuitive for clients to navigate. The cloud-based service offers both free and premium usage plans based on the number of records created and the number of users accessing the account. Most clients are likely to have fewer than 1000 individual items listed on their estate inventory and will qualify for the free plan. However, should your home inventory exceed the 1000 record limit, you will need to upgrade to the website’s paid, premium plan, which the website bills monthly on a per-user basis.
  • How is the inventory formatted? What will I receive?
    There are several options. Your estate inventory will reside in the cloud and can be accessed from your home computer. Using the firm’s mobile app, your inventory can also be accessed from your phone as well. With a cloud-based service, your inventory is always accessible and backed up on a secure server. In addition, every record for every item can be printed, and the entire inventory can be downloaded from the cloud service’s website and saved on a computer or backed up on portable media. The program enables you to share the inventory with others as needed. You determine the level of access you want to provide (full editing vs. viewing only).
  • Do I need to maintain my inventory if it’s part of an estate plan?
    We recommend your estate inventory be kept up to date as part of an estate plan. It’s prudent to revisit your inventory periodically, especially as you acquire additional important property or revise your decisions regarding beneficiaries. We can remain your inventory specialist and provide annual updating services as needed. Once created, it’s easy for us to add, remove, update, and make edits to your estate inventory.
  • How do I schedule an estate inventory?
    First, fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We’ll identify your goals and gather basic information about your personal property assets. We’ll follow up with a site visit to evaluate your property, answer your questions and estimate the time involved in providing our inventory services. Should you engage us, we’ll prepare a service agreement that includes a work proposal (plan) and an estimate for the job so that you know exactly what services will be provided. When scheduling work, we’re happy to accommodate your personal schedule and family needs.
  • Do you offer training sessions or consultation services?
    Prefer to conduct your own inventory? Shelley Diamond Archival Solutions also provides estate inventory advisory services. For a fixed fee, we can help you devise an inventory plan; create your inventory account; customize an inventory template; train you on use of the software (in person or via ZOOM); provide tips on conducting an efficient, time saving inventory (e.g. photographing items, capturing descriptive data); and provide advice on property documentation that may be required for tax, insurance or appraisal purposes.
  • More questions?
    Feel free to reach out to us with any additional questions you may have about our services. or 718.536.6428
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