Even small towns have a good amount of government business to record, and just like their larger municipal counterparts, finding space to store all of those records is a never ending challenge. In the Virgin Town Hall, a historic school house, managing limited storage space is especially important. Just over a year ago the upstairs storage room in the Virgin Town Hall was overflowing with government records: boxes of maps, licenses and accounts payable records of every type. According to Monica Bowcutt, the records officer and town clerk, “We knew things needed to be gone through and dealt with because we were just getting farther and farther behind.” The lack of organization was making it difficult to find the records they needed.
Monica noted that “the most difficult part was knowing where to begin. The rooms were filled with boxes, some of which dated back to the 1960’s. Some of the boxes were organized and labeled, others were not. There were also piles, not in boxes, and maps covering the floor and shelves. After deciding where to begin, the next most difficult part was going through each box or pile, paper by paper, making sure to file, shred, or store correctly.” It can be hard to stay motivated when facing such a daunting task. But Monica notes that staying motivated is all about finding a supportive team, and just picking a corner of the storage room and going for it!
Monica Bowcutt relied on the help of Mistie Baird and Darcey Spendlove to help take on the project. Leaning on a team for support helped keep everyone encouraged. Darcy took the lead on the project and began organizing the chaos: she established a categorization method, researched the retention schedules for the records she identified, and began filing away records that needed to be kept and shredding those that did not. Monica’s advice to other records officers is to set aside 15 minutes a day to properly file away records, and when possible assign the task of organizing to a single person to oversee, that way they can direct the project and help keep people accountable. Seeing progress helped keep the team determined to finish, and with time, attention and a good amount of teamwork, the Virgin Town staff can proudly say they accomplished a clean up project that seemed impossible at the start.