Checkout System, Stage 5: Reshelve the Hardware

In the last post, the Pages assembled the system, a suitable location was selected, and the researchers began their emulation research: playing Frogger on a Mattel Intellivision II.

In this post, we approach the final stage of the checkout system/workflow: reshelving the items.

At the end of a normal business day at the Briscoe, researchers have two options. If they are not finished and plan to come back, they can place a ‘hold’ on the materials. Otherwise, the materials are ready to return to their ‘home.’

Considering that maps are usually reshelved soon after a researcher is finished, most objects used in the Reading Room are reshelved the morning of the next business day before the Briscoe re-opens. Until then, the collection materials are stored in the stacks area for safekeeping and security purposes. If a researcher does put a hold on the gaming system, the system will be stored in the same secure place after the RF Switch Box is disconnected from the TV. The system is returned to the Reading Room for the researcher the next morning.

If there is no hold, the items are returned to their respective ‘homes’ the next morning. It is this moment that tracking locations becomes crucial. It is likely that a different set of pages will reshelve than the set that originally retrieved. This can be an issue because, as is, there is no readily apparent relationship between an item’s SKU# and its location. For other archival material, Pages can deduce the ‘home’ location by looking at the label of the box. For UTVA hardware, the Hardware Request slip can aid in reshelving provided the items are returned to the correct polypropylene bags before being reshelved. If the items are not returned to the correct bag, the link between the archival ID tag and an item is broken. I included written instructions for reshelving in the UTVA ‘informational packet’ hosted on the UTVA Wiki.

UTVA_ReshelvingHardwareDigital images of hardware are available on the desktop computers in case someone is unfamiliar with a piece and wishes to double check.

UTVA_Hardware_ResourcesAnd the UTVA Master Hardware Inventory list should still reflect the appropriate ‘home’ location as locations are not changed for research requests. Things would get absurd otherwise.

Proof-of-Concept_CheckOutSystemIn an earlier post, I mentioned a tentative citation format for a researcher wishing to cite game play. For this scenario, the citation should reflect both the game and the console (artifact + activity).  I felt that the following might be a good start:


  • Frogger. Sega Enterprises Inc., 1983. Intellivision cartridge. Mattel Intellivision II (SKU#: 2010_231_00063_002). Billy Cain Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
  • Video game. Publisher/distributor/manufacturer, Release date. Format. Platform (Inventory Number). Collection name, Repository.

Once the materials have been returned, we have come full circle and return to Stage 1: Stabilize and Maintain the Hardware. As suggested earlier, hardware should be inspected yearly and these inspections represent a unique opportunity to begin (and then leverage) relationships with other departments in the UT community for help with the process.

And we await the next researcher!

In the next post, I will discuss the preparation for, and the results from, testing the checkout system/workflow. Stay tuned!



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