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The UC Guidelines for Processing Efficiently A Streamlined Approach for Managing All of Your Archival Collections Michelle Light Director of Special Collections University of Las Vegas, Nevada Libraries michelle. [email protected] com
Why is this streamlined approach applicable to me? MPLP… ◦ is not about paperclips or keeping original folders ◦ is not just for modern, organizational records ◦ informs ALL processing activity ◦ focuses on making our collections available for research “There are many degrees of processing, each of which can be done well. ”
Core Principles 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Aim to provide access to all holdings. Always look for the “golden minimum. ” Analyze the work necessary for every collection and be flexible in the amount of work applied. Arrange, describe, and preserve materials in harmony. Measure and compare processing rates to ensure processing is carried out efficiently. Try using a collection management system.
The First Step: Expose All Archival Holdings At minimum, provide a collection-level record for all archival holdings. 2. Revise your accessioning practices to represent holdings online at the moment of acquisition. 3. Revise your access policies to: 1. a) Allow access to unprocessed holdings. b) Review collections for use on demand. c) Tolerate messy collections in the reading room. 4. Allow use to determine further processing priorities.
The Second Step: Process Collections at an Appropriate Level Good processing : “ 1) expedites getting collection materials into the hands of users; 2) assures arrangement of materials adequate to user needs; 3) takes the minimal steps necessary to physically preserve collection materials; and 4) describes materials sufficient[ly] to promote use. ”
Five processing levels Level of Effort Minimal Low Moderate Intensive Highly intensive Level of Control Collection level Series or subseries level File level (expedited) Folder level (traditional) Item level
Minimal effort Level of Effort Minimal Level of Collection level Control Description Collection-level record in MARC or EAD Arrangement Leave as is Preservation Rebox only if unserviceable Appraisal Weeding not appropriate. If privacy concerns, restrict entire collection.
Low effort Level of Effort Low Level of Series of subseries level Control Description Brief finding aid or detailed MARC record with series/subseries descriptions and/or box lists. Arrangement Put series and/or boxes in rough order Preservation Replace damaged boxes. House loose items. Replace other enclosures only when unserviceable. Appraisal Appraise series, subseries, or chunks, . Restrict series with privacy concerns.
Moderate effort Level of Effort Moderate Level of Control File level (expedited) Description Succinct finding aid with abbreviated folder lists or simple (expedited) inventories. Existing description repurposed. Arrangement Put folders in rough order. Preserve original order when usable. Perform rough sort of loose items. Preservation Replace boxes. Retain existing folders and labels when in good shape. Appraisal Appraise folders. Segregate folders with privacy issues.
Intensive effort Level of Effort Intensive Level of Control Folder level (traditional) Description Finding aid includes detailed folder lists and descriptive notes. Folder titles are refined and standardized. Arrangement Put folders in order. Impose new organizational scheme or make significant improvements. Sort loose items. Preservation Replace boxes and folders. Selectively perform preservation for fragile or valuable items. Appraisal Appraise folders. Segregate folders with privacy issues.
Highly intensive effort Level of Effort Intensive Level of Control Item level Description Detailed finding aid includes item lists, or folder lists with explanatory notes. Arrangement Items are placed in order in boxes and folders. Preservation Replace boxes and folders. Comprehensively address housing or preservation needs for fragile items. Reformat audio-visual material. Appraisal Item-level weeding. Segregate items with privacy concerns.
Assess your collection to determine processing level 1. Assess the value of the collection. 2. Consider the collection's condition. Given its value, determine how much work should be invested in the collection to make it usable.
Assess the value User Quality of Institutional Scale Interest Documentation value 1 Negligible Slight Negligible 2 Slight Limited 3 Moderate Pertinent, average Moderate Important, 4 High extensive 5 Very high Unique, very rich Very high Object value Negligible Limited Moderate High Very high
Find an appropriate processing level Value Scores Appropriate processing level 4 -5 Minimal effort | Collection level 6 -10 Minimal effort | Collection level Low effort processing | Series or subseries level 11 -15 Minimal effort | Collection level Low effort | Series or subseries level Moderate effort | File level (expedited) 16 -18 Minimal effort | Collection level Low effort | Series or subseries level Moderate effort | File level (expedited) Intensive effort | File level (traditional) 19 -20 Minimal effort | Collection level Low effort | Series or subseries level Moderate effort | File level (expedited) Intensive effort | File level (traditional) Highly intensive effort| Item level
Analyze the needs of your collection and understand your institutional context Physical condition Physical order Intellectual access Appraisal and privacy issues Institutional resources
Processing Rates (Hours/Lin. Ft. ) Poor Average Excellent condition or many moderate few barriers to to access Collection-level 1 -3 1 -2 1 Series-level 4 -8 3 -6 2 -4 File-level 9 -14 7 -11 5 -8 Folder-level 15 -21 12 -17 9 -13 22+ 18+ 14+ Item-level
Specific processing approaches 22 pages of further guidance (tips, tricks, and shortcuts) for minimal, low, and moderate-effort processing Include strategies applicable to all collections as well as for university records, 19 th century collections, photographs, audio-visual materials, born digital materials 14 case studies from UCs
Examples of approaches Generally ◦ Minimize physical arrangement (or rearrangement) of files. ◦ Vary descriptive detail according to material present. ◦ Use scope and content notes strategically. ◦ Postpone item-level preservation actions until a user requests access. ◦ When managing multiple accessions, keep them distinct. Do not interfile into each other. Describe them in separately in succession in a finding aid.
Examples of approaches Photographs Audiovisual collections ◦ Do not routinely separate photographs found in chiefly textual archival collections. ◦ Most photographs do not need to be described at the item level. ◦ Limit the housing of individual items. Rely instead on stricter policies in the reading room. ◦ Delay reformatting activities until users request the material. ◦ Devote staff resources to achieving a finer level of description at the expense of arrangement.
Available at http: //tinyurl. com/ uc-processing-guidelines