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Optimize Your Company Archives With History Factory’s New Purpose-Built Facility

August 31, 2022 • History Factory

There’s no better feeling than coming home. And thanks to the Archives and Digitization Lab, ​our new purpose-built facility, we’re feeling better than ever.

Like most who are looking to relocate, we needed a change of space. And we had specific requirements in mind: more room to spread out and do our work, a facility that would fit our customized needs like a glove, and a place that would allow our clients to not only view and explore their archives but to have a noteworthy experience while doing so. 

So to make sure our new space met all those needs, we built it ourselves. 

We could wax poetic about the natural light, generous square footage, dedicated work and meeting spaces, and architecturally inspired interior design work. But you may wonder: What’s in it for you?

Let us count the ways. 

The Influences Behind Our Purpose-Built Archives Facility

Every work of art has its muse, and our clients were ours. Really. We couldn’t have designed this new space without thinking about you:

  • what you need from us,
  • what would inspire you to dive deeper into your archives,
  • and what you want out of an archives facility.

We were in our old facility for what felt like a lifetime—27 of the 43 years that History Factory has existed—and while it was a safe place for your collection, it was getting a little cramped. This made it much more challenging for our archivists to do their jobs effectively, especially if you were planning on adding to your archives. We needed more space to store your collection and for archivists to serve you more efficiently.

There’s a lot that needs to happen to keep your archives organized, easy to access, and safe from damage, misuse or theft. In our new facility, just like our old one, we wanted to be sure our clients’ archives were in the best of hands and in the most secure of buildings. 

We started with our overarching framework that guides everything that we do: “Start with the Future and Work Back.” We wanted to better understand how we could serve the wants and needs of our clients and how we could arm our archivists with the latest and greatest tools to do their best work. 

In looking for a new facility to call home, we engaged JLL, the global leader and expert in tenant representation. In Northern Virginia, where our old facility was located, we faced a difficult search as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and a “great migration” from downtown Washington, D.C., to the suburbs that resulted in an explosion of data centers in the area. After an exhaustive process, we finally found our building that was perfect for us and our clients’ needs. 

We had a blank canvas: a floor, four walls and a roof. We designed and constructed everything beyond that with these wants and needs in mind. According to Andrew Cooper, senior project manager at JLL: “We brought architectural, general contracting and furniture professionals to the table to execute on History Factory’s detailed vision for its fitout in a comprehensive process that rapidly went from lease to plans to finished product, all while the countdown to expiration was on at its former location. The clean lines, open views and ample accommodations speak for themselves.”

Leverage Your Archives’ Power Sooner Thanks to an Optimized Workspace

There’s a lot that goes into processing an archives. 

First, there’s receiving materials—boxes, storage totes, cabinets and original artifacts that don’t fit into any of those categories. The next step is processing. Our archivists use their expertise to research assets, input metadata and ensure everything is filed and stored according to a standardized taxonomy. After that comes the digitization process (which involves way more than scanning and 3D imaging documents and artifacts into a digital system). 

Of course, this is a watered-down version of the process, but it’s undoubtedly clear: Establishing and processing an archival collection takes a lot of work. And archivists need the proper space in order to do so. Having individual spaces dedicated to each part of the archives processing operation is essential if you want to increase efficiency. While we had many of these dedicated spaces in our old facility, our new layout is much more streamlined. At every step—receiving, processing, digitization, metadata tagging, storage and research—our space is designed like a factory floor to optimize the flow of operations.

Now, with the Archives and Digitization Lab’s functional purpose-built spaces, we have the right experts in the right places. And they’re equipped with the best resources to do their jobs more effectively. This space expansion also allows for better collaboration and sharing of ideas and information between archivists, digital production technicians, technologists, creative team members and marketers to optimize your archives and your experience. 

As a result, we’ve drastically increased the number of archives we can process at one time, and clients can leverage their archives more quickly. This not only saves time but means you won’t have to wait as long to realize ROI on your archives.

When your archives has the power to move your business forward, the sooner you can take advantage of it, the better.

Our Space Is Your Space: Touring, Researching In and Using Our Archives Facility

We love putting on our host hats and having people over to our archives facility to see our space and view their collections. 

Most of our visits are educational in nature. Some are to orient new people to our program, resources and capabilities. Others are for the sake of research: Our guests might be designers seeking inspiration for a new product, lawyers reviewing information to support litigation, or a new CEO and management team learning about the history of their organization. Whatever the reason, sometimes you need to see a collection in person to physically examine or consult assets held within it. 

This brand-new building—along with our new History Factory AMS platform—facilitates all those things while enhancing your overall experience.

 Your archives is much more valuable to you when you have the time and space to take a deep dive into it. In our new building, you’ll find workspaces to meet all of your needs: flexible spaces for smaller groups, bigger spaces to accommodate larger groups and more assets, office areas, workstations and more. Unencumbered by physical space constraints or background noise, you can explore and learn so much more. We designed the Archives and Digitization Lab to inspire you to make the most of your archives

Your Archives Lives Its Best Life With Our State-of-the-Art Everything

What’s a new building without a state-of-the-art something? For us, it wasn’t enough to pick just one attribute to enhance. So we went with… everything. 

The latest technologies make up the backbone of the building. All of the Archives and Digitization Lab’s systems—including climate control, security, IT, processing stations and fire suppression—are the best of the best. 

While these are not entirely unique to our building, the fact that we have a state-of-the-art digitization facility under our roof is. The space is designed to better manage the intake of materials and workflows associated with digitization.This means that if you’re looking to digitize a portion of your collection, you can save time by having it done all in-house by our digitization partners, Pixel Acuity (a division of Digital Transitions), alongside processing. 

There’s something to be said for peace of mind, too: Having your entire archives all in one place means one less thing you have to worry about. 

Find a New Home for Your Archives With History Factory

Your company’s archives is a sacred place. It’s where you store your treasures and memories, keep your stories, preserve your milestones, and look for inspiration for future plans. Putting it in the best of hands means guaranteeing that your company’s history and heritage will be useful and valuable for years to come. That’s why we designed this facility to future-proof the investment that you will make in the storage, capture, preservation and use of your heritage.

And if you’re nervous about the complexity of moving a priceless collection, don’t worry. We just moved tens of thousands of boxes, artifacts and assets successfully, and have been doing it for years. We know all the ins and outs of moving such valuable assets the right way, whereas general professional movers may not.

The documents, assets and artifacts that make up your company’s history and heritage are unique and irreplaceable. You can’t afford not to keep them preserved and in a safe, secure and easily accessible location. 

If you’re looking for a new home for your collection, we know a place. Just give us a call.

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