How to get inappropriate fellow volunteer banned from our historical archives?
February 27, 2011 5:52 PM   Subscribe

How to get inappropriate fellow volunteer banned from our historical archives?

A fellow volunteer and I have each worked for a year and a half at our local historical archive. He is a 33-y.o. failed athlete who allegedly suffered permanent brain damage from steroid abuse. He is subject to seizures (has had three in the archives) is on meds and is on SS disability. He has just started a new business of making home-made body lotions sold in recycled Pepsi bottles and earrings. He also claims to have recently discovered and is making a miraculous energy cream. He recently purchased a $400 vintage chandelier to disassemble in order to take out the crystals for his earrings (just out of curiosity I checked online and found wholesale similar beads for roughly 1/10th of the cost).

At any rate, the other folks who volunteer there (around 20) are the usual passel of local historical folks. I'm a history columnist, there's another writer there, antiques collectors, and so on. I get along fine with them.

Guy X is there because our director allows it. One other vol. says that director likes him there as he does all the director's work. I think he just feels sorry for him. Guy X does not have any experience in an archives and has 1. duct-taped an 1888 book, 2. scotch-taped unnecessary labels on almost all of our 19th-century diaries 3. filed fragile 1831 local tax rolls in a vertical file (instead of flat storage in acid-free box) and 4. written unnecessary numbers in our period photo albums, diminishing their beauty.

I have brought these concerns to our director. I was told that Guy X didn't do those things (I have seen it first-hand, as have several others)--in so many words, that I was just making this up. My concerns were brushed off.

This has been driving me a bit nuts. Two fellow vol's are also concerned but are powerless due to director.

This past week Guy X allegedly assaulted his girlfriend and her mother (allegedly punching the mom 5 times), according to girlfriend. He went to jail and has been there since.

We have a meeting coming up about this. I do NOT want this person back on our grounds (where he was also groundskeeper) and certainly not in the museum. It's not even that I am a domestic violence survivor myself. I am concerned first and foremost about our artifacts and Guy X has no place there IMO. This last event is just what is motivating me to take a stand at the meeting. How can I best work to get this person banned from our archives as I am just a volunteer? Thank you for any advice.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Jail ought to clinch it. If director doesn't agree that he's banned, go the the board of trustees.
posted by beagle at 5:56 PM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Intervention with the director, with multiple volunteers attesting to the damaging behavior re archival materials in one meeting, followed up with a letter to the board of trustees signed by those volunteers?
posted by zippy at 5:59 PM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Note: the other stuff, "failed athlete", "makes body lotions," is immaterial and you should drop it.
posted by zippy at 6:00 PM on February 27, 2011 [48 favorites]

Sounds like the director is the real problem. Go over his head.
posted by equalpants at 6:10 PM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think that it's not really your job to evaluate the competence of fellow volunteers or protect the archival materials. I think you want to be a little careful about not coming off like a very familiar character to professionals in museums and archives: the volunteer who thinks he or she can do your job better than you can. If you come off like you're challenging the director's authority, you make this into a much higher-stakes fight than you want it to be.

I would say that you don't feel comfortable working with someone who is currently under investigation for a violent crime. That's fair enough. I probably wouldn't want to volunteer alongside someone who solved problems by punching people five times.
posted by craichead at 6:14 PM on February 27, 2011 [9 favorites]

Why did you start this question off with a lot of completely unrelated stories about his medical history and work plans? That makes it sound like you're just making up all these other things because you do not like the guy. (Note: I am not saying you are actually doing this, just that the impression you give is personal dislike, not concern about the materials.)

Whatever you do choose to do, leave the part where you judge his past, disbelieve his diagnosis, and do not approve of his work plans, and only bring up the fact that he is damaging materials.
posted by jeather at 6:31 PM on February 27, 2011 [16 favorites]

Ugh. Go over his head if you have to, but first get together a bunch of other volunteers who have seen this guy's mishandling of your materials and go to the director with them. That way it's just not you making the accusations.

Don't bring up and part of his personal life at all, except for maybe the assault part (assuming the director hasn't heard about it).
posted by elder18 at 6:43 PM on February 27, 2011

Yeah, I have epilepsy, and I have had (rare) seizures at work, and leading with his medical history rather than 'this dude is damaging things, and has domestic assault charges pending' makes you seem petty and--frankly--prejudiced and ignorant with regard to seizure disorders and brain injuries. This will do basically the opposite of furthering your goals.

Your concerns about damage to materials and his current assault charges are the relevant concerns here. If you do anything else with this, leave the rest of your tale-mongering*--including his hobby business projects out of it. No one is making you buy his earrings or price out the crystal beads on a chandelier.

*because you come across as a tale-mongerer right now--not as someone with valid and reasonable concerns about safety and preserving historic collections, and I think you intend to be the latter.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 6:44 PM on February 27, 2011 [31 favorites]

The director has made it clear that he is not going to do anything. If you go over hs head it might be you that gets the boot. Still, I would do it. Try to document your accusations with statements from other witnesses.
posted by LarryC at 8:54 PM on February 27, 2011

You are not responsible for the behavior of other people. It would be great if you were the director and could kick the guy out, but you're not.

The director is the person who is responsible for the work that gets done, not you. Do your own work as well as possible, and brush the other stuff off.

I think a polite letter to the board is your only option here
posted by auto-correct at 9:29 PM on February 27, 2011

It doesn't sound like you want him banned (even that, "banned" ??) because you don't think he treats materials properly or because you are afraid of him. It sounds like you don't like him very much, have tried in the past to get rid of him and haven't succeeded, and now you see a new opening to get rid of him.

If you want him gone because you don't like him, then own up to that and start volunteering some time when he isn't there.

If you really want him gone for concern for the materials and/or your safety, then the other stuff shouldn't factor into it. However, if you have been talking about those other things to the director and to other volunteers, then your credibility is already thin at best - they know what you think of him.
posted by mrs. taters at 6:43 AM on February 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

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