Thank you for volunteering for this very important task. Coordinating an exchange is usually a lot of fun, very fulfilling, and might be more work than you imagine…
You will need to sharpen up your organization and communication skills in order to make this exchange a success for everyone.
Expect to spend about 5-9 hours opening, collating and re-packing prints, depending on how fast you work and whether you have help or not. You may also have to make several trips to the post office to pick up prints sent insured or certified and to mail the collated sets.
Following are the basics of coordinating the exchange. You will probably find your own ways of doing things-whatever works!
A Handy Checklist (steps explained below):
- [_] Welcome participants and request confirmation
- [_] Set up a system for organizing participant information
- [_] Send regular reminder emails with deadline, coordinator’s email and address, exchange details and information page
- [_] Receive prints and keep after late senders
- [_] Collate prints
- [_] Scan prints and format
- [_] Prepare colophon
- [_] Mail back prints to participants
- [_] Mail archive set to Archive with printed colophon
- [_] Email scanned folders and electronic colophon to Exchange Manager
Communication with YOU…
Now that you are an exchange coordinator, a special email address has been created which will direct mail to both you and the exchange manager. That email address should be used whenever anyone contacts you about the exchange. The address is coordinatorN@barenfrm.org where ‘N‘ is the number of the [Baren] exchange you are coordinating. If participants contact you using your barenforum email address, then both you and the exchange manager will always ‘be on the same page’.
Communication with the exchange manager.
Please keep in close contact with the exchange manager throughout the exchange. Let the manager know of changes in the participant list, non-communicative participants, late drop-outs, any time you feel there might be a problem, and especially if you feel that any participant should be removed from the exchange for any reason (late delivery, non-communication, whatever).
Communication with participants.
The exchange manager (who appointed you coordinator) will provide you with a list of names and email addresses for all participants and wait-listers in the exchange. In each email you send, please remind participants to communicate to you using your coordinatorN@barenfrm.org email address (that way a copy automatically goes to the exchange manager, too!) and be sure to cc: (the exchange manager) so that you both always know what’s going on.
Most messages from you to exchange participants should be sent to with a copy to each participant in the exchange (copy the email addresses of all participants, comma-separated, into the cc: field of your message. That way your message gets posted to the forum AND to each participant and you can feel more certain that your message will be received and read by all. If you feel any message would unduly embarrass a participant, you may omit the [BarenForum] and address it directly to the participant (with a copy to ). It’s good practice to file printed copies of all messages sent and received during the exchange so you’ll have a record handy in case of problems later on (for example, in case your computer fails).
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
As Soon As You Are Appointed Coordinator:
- Send an email introducing yourself to the participants, welcoming them to the exchange, reminding them of the deadlines, offering assistance to anyone who has questions, and asking that they reply immediately so that you can be confident that you have everyone’s correct email address and that they are all real people who have read and understand the exchange guidelines. Always include the Exchange Information web page in your emails for easy reference.
- Keep after any non-responders until they reply. After you have posted several requests for non-responders to contact you directly to their email address and to the [BarenForum] and enough time has passed without any response so that you suspect that there’s ‘nobody home’ or that an email address may be incorrect, please contact the exchange manager for assistance / discussion.
At Regular Intervals:
Deadline Reminders – Throughout the exchange work period you should email friendly reminders of the approaching deadline. Once per month is enough until the weeks before the deadline. This will gear up anyone who still intends to participate but has not yet started their prints. Your email updates might be something like this:
Dear Exchange #N participants:
The no-drop-out deadline is mm/dd/yyyy – if you feel you must drop out of the exchange please let me know as soon as possible – a penalty may be imposed if you drop out later than that!
I have now received prints from:
I have NOT received prints from:
Mailing Reminders – Participants should be regularly reminded to include sufficient return postage and self-addressed label with their prints. I generally suggest that participants attach correct postage to their ready-to-mail return packaging or enclose $10 cash for US domestic, $20 cash for outside the US postage.
US Postal Service rates for domestic and international shipments can be found at USPS.COM Other carriers include UPS, FED-EX, DHL.
Print Information Form Reminders – Participants should be reminded to fill in the Print Information Form for the exchange so that a colophon can be compiled. The proper Information Form can be reached from each Exchange Information Page.
Six Weeks Before the Exchange Deadline
Email everyone who hasn’t yet delivered prints (most of them!) and let them know that
Dear <name>, <name>, <name>, <…>:
In fairness to all participants, especially those on the Waiting List, you MUST respond to this email prior to the no-drop-out deadline of mm/dd/yyyy and confirm to me that you intend to complete this exchange on time.
If I do not hear from you prior to mm/dd/yyyy then your name may be removed from the exchange and the next wait-lister may be promoted.
At the Deadline
If all prints aren’t delivered by the deadline, you may extend the deadline up to two weeks. If you decide that the extra time is warranted, send an email to the [BarenForum] with cc to participants’ email addresses and say something like:
Dear <tardy names>,
The deadline to deliver prints to me has been extended to mm/dd/yyyy. This new deadline is FINAL. Prints received after that date will be returned (if sufficient return postage was enclosed) and a penalty may be imposed.
Please reply to immediately to confirm that you have received this message and will deliver your prints prior to the deadline.
Drop outs and other problems:
Although as coordinator you have substantial influence, you should never take it upon yourself to remove a participant from an exchange nor impose any penalty. Those are the unhappy duties of the exchange manager. If you feel that a participant ought to be removed from the list of exchange participants (has not responded to your numerous email requests, has become abusive, intends to deliver late, etc.) or be penalized, please discuss this with the exchange manager as soon as possible. The exchange manager will do the ‘dirty work’ of removing and/or penalizing a participant.
If / when a participant notifies you that they are dropping out of the exchange you should notify the exchange manager of the drop-out, notify ALL the waitlisters and ask them to reply to you immediately that they are prepared to fill the empty slot. Give the waitlisters a few days to respond, then promote the waitlister who was listed first and responded into the exchange and notify the exchange manager of the change. If no waitlisters are available to fill the slot, then an invitation should be posted to [BarenForum] — usually someone will take the empty spot – and when they do, inform the exchange manager, of course!
Preparing the Colophon
I think the easiest way to prepare your colophon (print information) is in a spreadsheet. The top row of your colophon spreadsheet should contain the field-names of the print information that arrives by email either from the colophon form on the exchange sign-up page:
|Mike||Lyon||Kansas City, MO||untitled (self-portrait)||11 x 9 in||4 laser-cut Baltic birch plywood||suspensions: red, yellow, blue, black||kozo washi by Iwano Ichibei||31||mlyon.com||mokuhanga from four lasercut blocks hand printed using hon-baren onto 40 sheets of Iwano-san’s kozo washi. And blah, blah, blah|
|Donna||Smith||London, GB||Swan Lake||10 x 20 cm||linocut||Speedball black||white paper||I hope you like it as much as I do!|
|Pat||Brown||Miami, FL||Daisy||4 x 4 in||pine block||Akua||Canson Cream 80#||22||pat.edu|
You should be receiving a colophon print information email from each participant (if not, ask the exchange manager to send you the information). As the colophon (print information) emails arrive, prepare your colophon spreadsheet and, when all the print information is complete, sort it alphabetically by lastname and save it. If you’ve used MS Excel, you can then use MS Word’s Mailings tab to easily build your colophon document and format it for printing.
If possible, match the size of your printed colophon to the dimensions of the exchange. Your colophon spreadsheet (if used) and colophon document file should be emailed to so they can build the on-line exchange gallery.
Most coordinators assemble the prints in the same order as they appear on the colophon (alphabetical order by artist last name). Check to be sure you have detail for each print in the exchange… If not, email the artist and ask them to visit https://barenfrm.org/exchange-sign-up/ and complete the Colophon Information Form about halfway down the page.
If you can, it’s very nice to include a thumbnail image of each print along with the information about it in the colophon — it’ll help with your collation and it makes it easier for those browsing the prints to locate the print information. Here’s how a typical colophon entry might appear (using the 350 pixel images you scanned to create thumb-nail images):
The Union Church, Berea Kentucky
11.5 x 8.5 in, linocut, Akua Intagio ink on Thai kozo & bamboo fiber paper, edition 30. The Berea Union Church (as well as the Berea College) was founded by John Gregg Fee in 1853. Both the college and the church are non-denominational, and racially integrated since their founding. Fee founded the church on the principles of social and racial equality and believed slavery to be a sin. Equality and acceptance are pillars of the organization to this day. The building architecture is Greek Revival Style brick designed by W. H. Nicklas of Cleveland, Ohio. I’m Bocote Art on Facebook and Instagram.
As Prints Arrive…
There are 30 prints in a full exchange, so being VERY organized and methodical will really help.
Prints will start arriving as early as a month before the deadline (or more than a month after, to the coordinator’s dismay!). You must keep track of who has already sent prints and/or money for return shipping (may or may not come together), what type of carrier and mail preferences (insured, certified, etc.), and notices of “the prints are in the mail.”
Although not absolutely required, a check list will be a big help – your check list could be as simple as a piece of paper with the names of participants and columns labeled:
- Participant Name
- Email Address
- Mailing Address
- Prints arrived date
- Amount received
- Insurance amount (same as received, if any and if paid)
- Mailing preference
- Packaging included
Or it could be a spreadsheet in your computer which makes it easy to print mailing labels. Whatever you do, keep it up to date and accurate so you are always confident about the state of the exchange.
Each time you receive prints you should email the participant to let them know.
Opening and inspecting the packages as they arrive will allow you to keep your list up to date and to collect additional materials (mailing labels, money, prints) you need in a timely fashion. If you wait until it’s time to collate the prints to open and inspect the contents you might discover several without return addresses or without postage or return packaging – not a nice sort of surprise!
Collate the Prints
Barbara Mason had a stunning breakthrough in the organization of exchange #24… She got legal size hanging file folders and just filed the prints in 31 folders…this worked so well she hopes other coordinators will follow suit. The best part is that she was able to file them a little at a time, so did not have 31 piles of prints layed out all over the house like most of us have had in the past. It took two cardboard filing boxes but it held them all in very tidy order. Barbara highly recommends this method and will gladly send the file folders on to whoever needs them next… She says it is working almost too well…
OR… you will need a large area of CLEAN floor, counter top, tables, or other clean surface to deal the prints (collate them) into 31 separate stacks, each stack containing one of each participant’s print. Prints should be dealt or collated face up in reverse colophon order (so first print listed on colophon is on top), and you should attempt to keep similar example numbers 3/31, 4/31, 12/31, xiv/xxxi, etc. together if possible. Suite 1/31 should be reserved for scanning and for mailing to the archive:
Archive set for Exchanges should be sent to the Exchange Manager
The Exchange Manager will forward to our archive.
Be careful not to pick up two prints together – check each example number – this will save much time later on when you discover that you are ‘short’ a print or two…
If the prints are dry (as they should be!), discard slip sheets — but if you suspect the slip sheets may be necessary for certain prints, by all means, use them! Some artists will have used newsprint or glassine or other ACIDIC slip-sheet paper, so be careful which slip sheets you include, as it would be a shame to have some of the prints become toned over the years due to inclusion of acidic slip sheets. How can you tell for sure if a slip sheet is archival? You probably can’t, but please use your best judgement !!!
If there are extra prints, return them along with the suite to the artist who sent them.
Print 31 (or one more than the number of participants if less than 30) copies of the colophon (see below) and deal your printed colophon onto the top of each stack to complete collation.
Scan the prints
PLEASE NOTE: If you are not comfortable with any of the following, let the Exchange Manager know right away.
Scan or digitally photograph each print.
Scan the entire sheet (not just the image area) including the edges of the paper at 200 dpi.
Crop each print exactly around the outside edge of the paper (do not crop to the image).
Save each image as: N-lastname-firstname-title.jpg (N is the exchange number)
The exchange manager will share a cloud drive or folder (google drive, drop box, or similar) with you. Upload the images and your colophon (print information) to the shared drive or folder.
Email to let them know the upload is complete.
Packing and Mailing
Try to mail the packages out the way the participants requested (and paid for) and use the return packaging supplied — some may request insurance or registered mail. It’s a good idea to request delivery confirmation where practical. Registered mail can’t have any shiny tape, as the post office has to ‘seal’ every tape seam with a rubber stamp to verify that the package wasn’t tampered with.
Be sure to include your return address.
For mailing outside the country you will need to fill out a customs declaration — contents should be described as “printed matter” with $0 value in order to avoid delays in mailing (unless otherwise requested by the participant).
After you mail everything, if you didn’t receive enough postage to cover your mailing costs, contact the exchange manager for reimbursement of your out-of-pocket.
It may happen that one or more packages get lost in the mail and are never delivered. If that happens, please contact the exchange manager for guidance.
You are almost done!
Now e-mail your list and tell them the packages are on the way.
After you complete your exchange, maybe you’d send your additional thoughts so that we can update our suggestions for future coordinators? I’m sure everyone would appreciate what you have to say.
Good luck! Thank you, thank you, thank you, and THANK YOU for doing this! Let me know if you have any questions.
- — Mike Lyon, previous exchange manager who developed most of this page of instructions
- –Maria Arango, later exchange manager who revised it
Last Revised 7/13/2023