What is the SWAT Team?

Student at work during the 2015 SWAT

Museum Studies Program director Katherine C. Grier developed the Collections SWAT Team community service project in response to a 2009 Connecting to Collections planning grant obtained by the Delaware State Library. Research done as part of this grant determined that 80 percent of the state’s collections were not inventoried, making appropriate disaster planning almost impossible. Almost all of the organizations surveyed had either an all-volunteer staff or a small paid staff of one or two individuals. They needed help in inventorying, cataloging, rehousing and other collection management activities.

The Museum Studies Program had already identified the importance of more hands-on experience for its students, with a particular emphasis on work with collections. The needs of both parties dovetailed, and in 2010, Dr. Grier led the first SWAT Team, a small group of six students who worked with a local history collection at the Corbit-Calloway Library in Kent County, DE. This first effort provided proof of the validity of the concept.

Students vet a number of institutions in the fall, taking pictures of and notes about each one’s collection and needs. They bring their findings to the group, and a single location is selected. The next few months involve narrowing down the tasks that the SWAT Team will work on. When the students arrive in January, they set to work for two weeks, moving efficiently and gaining experience with every task. When their work is finished, students follow up on these activities with a report outlining their work and providing recommendations for future collection management activities.

Need the SWAT Team?

In January 2018 we will be heading to Rockwood Park and Museum! If you are interested in taking part next year nominate your small museum or historical society as a potential site for the SWAT team! Applications for the 2019 SWAT Team will posted in October 2018, decisions will be made after that.