FAQ’s: How to Submit Files to the NFB Archives at the Jacobus tenBroek Library

Why is it important to send my files for inclusion in the NFB Archives?
Who should send organizational files to the NFB Archives?
I am a chapter or state-level division president. Should I send my files to the NFB Archives?
How often should I evaluate my files for submission to the NFB Archives?
Does it matter how much or how little I send?
How can I get my files to Baltimore?
What type of files does the NFB Archives want?
What type of files does the NFB Archives not want?
What about Braille materials?
Are there any guidelines on labeling paper documents, printed photos, or audiovisual recordings on physical media?
For electronic documents, what file formats are preferred?
Are there any guidelines on labeling electronic documents?
What do I do with my email?
For digital audio or video files, what file formats are preferred?
Are DVDs and CDs okay? What about VHS or cassette tapes?
What should I do if I have a backlog of historical documents and materials?
What if I still need my files?
Can I get my files back later if I change my mind?
Who can I call with questions?

Q: Why is it important to send my files for inclusion in the NFB Archives?

A: For the last seventy-five years, the work of the National Federation of the Blind has been driven by the activities of its state affiliates and national divisions, committees, and groups. Without the hard work and passion of Federation leaders at all levels, the NFB would not be the effective national organization that it is today. To ensure the preservation of a complete and accurate historical record which documents the NFB at all levels, the Jacobus tenBroek Library needs your help in gathering the records created outside of the national office.

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Q: Who should send organizational files to the NFB Archives?

A:

  • Presidents of state affiliates and national divisions
  • Chairpersons of national committees and groups appointed or endorsed by the President of the NFB
  • Chosen representatives of any of the groups listed above

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Q: I am a chapter or state-level division president. Should I send my files to the NFB Archives?

A: While we are definitely interested in preserving the work of chapters and state-level divisions and committees, we recommend that you speak with your state affiliate president first. If they are not already collecting information on the activities of your organization, they may wish to start. This will also help cut down on the duplication of files submitted to the archives.

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Q: How often should I evaluate my files for submission to the NFB Archives?

A: The timing and frequency of evaluating your files for submission to the archives may vary depending on the format(s) of the materials, the amount of materials in question, and the actual activities transpiring in your local organization. Some officers choose to submit small amounts of materials on a daily or weekly basis, while others prefer to send larger amounts on a less frequent basis. In general, we recommend examining your files at least every one to two years or whenever your office changes hands.

Paper records (in inkprint or Braille) and audiovisual recordings on physical media (CD, DVD, etc.) are sent through the mail and make more sense from an economic standpoint when sent in groups. However, electronic documents, emails, and digital recordings can be shared much more easily than physical objects and may actually benefit from more frequent examination and submission. For these types of materials, we recommend that you find a submission plan that works for you, whether it is on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. For more specific guidance, please contact the tenBroek Library.

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Q: Does it matter how much or how little I send?

A: No, you can send as much or as little material as you feel are appropriate. Some state and local organizations generate and collect more documents than others. Also, the amount of materials sent is dependent upon how often you choose to send files. For mailed shipments larger than one or two boxes, please contact the tenBroek Library before sending your packages out.

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Q: How can I get my files to Baltimore?

A: Paper files in inkprint or Braille, audiovisual recordings on DVD or CD, and printed photographs should be packed carefully in mailing envelopes or boxes and sent by mail to the tenBroek Library. When packing Braille, make sure that the box is not packed so tightly that it damages the dots.

The mailing address for sending materials is:

Jacobus tenBroek Library
National Federation of the Blind
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, MD 21230

Be sure to put “Jacobus tenBroek Library” or “Archives” on the address label(s) to ensure that the packages are directed to the correct place. It is also helpful to number the packages (ex. 1 of 4) when you are sending more than one at one time.

Electronic files can be sent to the NFB Archives by themselves or in small groups as email attachments to jtblibrary@nfb.org or akresmer@nfb.org. Be sure to put the words “For Archiving” in the email subject line. Multiple emails, each containing a small group of documents, can also be sent in this fashion. For groups of electronic documents too large to easily be sent by email, or for digital audio or video files, please contact the tenBroek Library to discuss transferring your materials through Dropbox or another similar service.

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Q: What types of files does the NFB Archives want?

A: The NFB Archives is interested in collecting anything that documents the activities and membership of your organization, including (but not limited to):

  • Constitutions, by-laws, and other “core” documents
  • Newsletters, bulletins, press releases
  • Promotional materials (e.g., brochures, pamphlets, and flyers) used in fundraising, special projects, and publicity
  • Meeting minutes and agendas
  • Files related to recurring or unique events (state convention, annual meetings, Meet the Blind Month events, etc.)
  • Edited state convention or annual meeting audio recordings
  • Resolutions
  • Newspaper articles documenting the work of your organization or featuring your members
  • Significant correspondence
  • Chapter or board of directors records
  • State division or committee records
  • Membership and officer lists
  • Oral history interviews (audio or transcripts)

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Q: What types of files does the NFB Archives not want?

A:

  • Raw or uncompressed/unedited video footage
  • Administrative emails (example: a conversation determining when to schedule a meeting, an acknowledgement of files received, etc.)
  • Receipts, banking records, and other financial documents*

*Some financial records may be collected by the NFB’s Affiliate Finance department for tax purposes. Please contact Bridgid Burke at bburke@nfb.org for questions concerning tax documents.

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Q: What about Braille materials?

A: The NFB Archives is happy to accept unique Braille materials in both paper and electronic formats, such as Braille correspondence or other documents originally produced exclusively in Braille. However, given that most records, especially those produced for a wider audience than Braille readers, are produced in multiple formats, we recommend submitting files in print when possible.

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Q: Are there any guidelines on labeling paper documents, printed photos, or audiovisual recordings on physical media?

A: Folders should be clearly marked with labels that convey the contents without requiring examination of the papers inside. All individual documents should be dated, and folder headings should include the year(s). Please review all files and make sure that they are correctly identified.

Printed photographs should be clearly labeled on the back side or placed in labeled folders or envelopes. Where possible, please include the date the photo was taken, the context it represents, and the names of the people in it.

Audiovisual recordings on physical media (CDs, DVDs, etc.) should be clearly labeled with the date they were recorded and the name of the event or piece depicted. Where applicable, please include the name of the person or organization that created the recording.

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Q: For electronic documents, what file formats are preferred?

A:

  • Word processing documents (.doc, .docx)
  • Text files (.txt)
  • PDFs
  • Digital photo files (.jpg)
  • Electronic Braille files (.brf, .dxp)*

*Only if the Braille files do not exist in other electronic file formats.

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Q: Are there any guidelines on labeling electronic documents?

A: Yes, to ensure that important information about the contents of your electronic documents is not lost, we recommend that you use the following guidelines:

  • File names for all documents should be clear and concise so that the contents can be determined without opening the file.
  • File names for all documents should include a brief description of the contents, a hyphen, and the date of creation or receipt (including the four digit year, month, and day).

Example:

nopbc revised constitution-20150916

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Q: What do I do with my email?

A: Emails are subject to the same procedures as other electronic files, including the labeling guidelines discussed above, but have additional requirements to ensure that they are properly cared for. The NFB Archives treats email as two distinct categories:

  • Routine administrative email: These emails are considered temporary files and do not need to be submitted to the archives (example: a conversation determining when to schedule a meeting, an acknowledgement of files received, etc.) It should be noted that most emails are routine in nature. 
  • Significant emails should ideally be saved as word processing, text, or PDF documents in a folder separate from your email program or account. Attachments received with emails should also be saved separately from your email program along with the saved version of the email if it is retained.

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Q: For digital audio or video files, what file formats are preferred?

A: Audio files should be in MP3 or WAV file formats, while video files should be in MP4 or MPEG-2 (standard DVD) file formats. Audio recordings marked up in DAISY format are also accepted.

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Q: Are DVDs and CDs okay? What about VHS or cassette tapes?

A: Yes, we do accept DVDs, CDs, VHS tapes, and audio cassette tapes. Depending on the significance of the recording, we may occasionally accept other old audio or video formats, such as open reel or home movies. For older formats like these, we recommend that you contact the tenBroek Library for consultation.

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Q: What should I do if I have a backlog of historical documents and materials?

A: For larger projects that cover a substantial period of time, or that predate the year 2000, please contact the tenBroek Library for consultation. Some historical materials may require special handling or there may already be copies of them in the NFB Archives.

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Q: What if I still need my files?

A: We recommend that you keep a copy of any files that you still actively consult on a regular basis. You can choose to send a copy to the archives and keep the original until you no longer need it. Or you can wait until the file is ready to be retired before submitting it to the archives.

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Q: Can I get my files back later if I change my mind?

A: Yes, you can get copies of any materials related to your organization at any time by contacting the tenBroek Library. Our staff will work with you to identify the files you need, discuss the expected time requirements to complete the work, and arrange for copies to be sent to you. Please note that the time needed for fulfilment of records requests may vary. We thank you in advance for your patience and flexibility.

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Q: Who can I call with questions?

A: All questions concerning transferring materials to the NFB Archives should be directed to Anna Kresmer at (410) 659-9314, extension 2310, or by email at akresmer@nfb.org.

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Thank you for helping to preserve the records of our organization by ensuring that they will remain a part of the NFB’s broader legacy!