Checkout System, Stage 1: Stabilize and Maintain the Hardware

In the last post, I introduced both the checkout system/workflow that I created to accommodate in-Reading Room research requests and the imagined research scenario that I used to picture the process.

In this post, I would like to discuss the first stage of the system/workflow: stabilizing and maintaining the hardware.

This stage occurs before any potential UTVA user interacts with the Briscoe. In order to increase accessibility and impose greater intellectual control over the collections, the artifacts need to be processed and cataloged.

UTVA hardware is cataloged and processed at the item level. Each piece receives an inventory number (SKU#) for tracking purposes. I am continuing to use the numbering system introduced by the previous UTVA-intern Matt when he began cataloging and processing the artifacts.

UTVA items are also photographed so the item can be easily identified and tracked. Photos help to diffuse collection knowledge throughout the institution especially for staff members unfamiliar with legacy gaming systems. The digital images are named by using the item’s inventory number plus a sequential numbering suffix.

The particular Mattel Intellivision II used for the trial run lacks its original packaging. The console and all relevant peripherals have been individually placed in separate polypropylene bags with associated archival identification tags. In an earlier post, I mentioned that the objects and tags were placed in sealed polypropylene bags to connect the object to its SKU# and to keep the object’s environment moisture free-ish.

The archival tags for the components display values for three metadata fields:

  1. Collection name
  2. SKU#
  3. Artifact name












The images of the items are stored on the computers in the Reading Room that are reserved for both the reference staff and the Briscoe Pages. At a future date, the images will be migrated to the Briscoe’s server for preservation purposes.

Matt also created a UTVA Hardware Master Inventory List that displays various metadata fields. This list is hosted on the UTVA’s page on the Briscoe Center’s Digital Archives Wiki. The Briscoe Center’s Digital Archive Wiki is an internal, web-based access tool that “provides a place for staff of the Center to develop and share ideas, processes, and documentation, for the capture, storage, retrieval, and sharing of the Center’s intellectual assets.”

Including the three fields, listed above, that are documented on the archival identification tags, the list includes each item’s location within the Briscoe and the relationships between a console and its related peripherals. Recall that one of the unique challenges associated with the UTVA hardware is the need for peripherals to render game play. Requesting only a console will not allow for emulating the activity.

The image below shows an abbreviated hardware list that I created specifically for the trial run.


The field “Associated Peripherals” is designed to display the relationships between consoles and components. The SKU#s of related elements are listed in this field for easy reference:

peripheral 1 | peripheral 2 | etc.

The field “Notes” indicates that a TV is necessary.

Briscoe staff with editing privileges (e.g., curatorial and reference archivists) can update the UTVA Hardware Master Inventory List anytime an item’s location changes. Locations are not updated if the hardware is requested by a visiting researcher as the items will be reshelved once the researcher is finished. Locations will be changed when an object’s ‘home’ within the archives changes or when an object is pulled for an exhibit.

The Briscoe Pages were given viewing privileges to the Wiki so they could access the list and its information during the trial run.

In the next post, the imagined research team will arrive at the Briscoe and make their request!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>