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Forget About the Backlog: Surfacing Accessions Using Archivists' Toolkit
 

Forget About the Backlog: Surfacing Accessions Using Archivists' Toolkit

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Presentation made to the Society of California Archivists General Meeting, 2012. ...

Presentation made to the Society of California Archivists General Meeting, 2012.

This lightning talk focused on a triage approach to surfacing accession records to the public. At UCI, we are creating minimum DACS records for new accessions that are new collections, and adding a series-level component for new accessions that are additions to existing collections. Exposing these unprocessed materials to researchers gives us the opportunity to leave our backlog as-is until patron requests or funding allow for further processing.

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    Forget About the Backlog: Surfacing Accessions Using Archivists' Toolkit Forget About the Backlog: Surfacing Accessions Using Archivists' Toolkit Document Transcript

    • Hello, my name is Audra and in the next 6 minutes, I am going toshow you how to solve all of your backlog problems. Butseriously……I’m going to talk about a triage approach taken at UC Irvine toexpose three types of accessions using Archivists’ Toolkit.First, accessions that are new collections.Second, accessions that are additions to unprocessedcollections.Third, accessions that are additions to already processedcollections. 1
    • Christine Weideman’s 2006 article, “Accessioning as Processing,”introduced the MPLP philosophy earlier in the archival life cycle.In the article, Weideman describes Yale’s goal to performminimal processing and description during the accessioningprocess, including the creation of a finding aid. The theme of the“exposing hidden collections” movement has been that: “someaccess to all is preferable to no access to some.”Here is an example of an unprocessed collection from Yale. Asyou can see, they have provided excellent information about thecreator, a scope and content note that indicates the collection isunprocessed, as well as a box inventory. But what if thecollection is completely unprocessed – what if you don’t have abox inventory? 2
    • In 2010, UCI initiated a project to create collection-level minimalDACS finding aids for every unprocessed collection in ourbacklog.Here is an example. You can see that there is no inventory forthe collection and that the Access Note simply says, “Thiscollection has not been processed.”The Yale or MPLP approach was useful in creating best practicesfor minimally processing collections at the point of accessioning.The collection-level minimal DACS project was quite valuable inexposing unprocessed existing collections. But I found very littlepublished regarding accessioning in terms of providing access tounprocessed accessions. Not minimally processed or semi-processed, but simply unprocessed accessions. 3
    • First, exposing accessions that make up an entirely newcollection. Every accession we create gets a finding aid andMARC record almost right away.In Archivists’ Toolkit, we create accession records fairly typically:abstract/description, box inventory, dates, extent, and an accessrestrictions note (as needed). 4
    • Once we connect this to an AT Resource Record, we beef up thefinding aid a bit in order to make it a collection-level minimumDACS compliant finding aid.The basic idea is that we create an abstract from the accessiondescription, copy it into the scope and content note, and copythe access note. 5
    • How does this look in the OAC? Exactly the same as ourunprocessed collection records.There is no inventory, but we have dates, extent, subjects, anabstract, scope and contents note, as well as an access note.The access note usually asks researchers to contact us inadvance to request access so that any restrictions review cantake place. 6
    • Next, accessions that are additions to unprocessed collections.This accession is an addition to a larger, unprocessed collectionof the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs records for UCI. Samerequired info in this accession. 7
    • In the AT Resource Record for the linked collection, everythinglooks about the same – we update the extent and dateinformation. But in addition to this… 8
    • …We add supplemental information to the Scope and ContentSummary, describing the newest addition to the collection. Ihave summarized both the description and inventory notes inthe original accession. I want to provide context and specificterminology regarding the new addition. 9
    • In OAC, the collection remains listed as unprocessed in theAccess note, and my description of the scope and contents ofthe addition have been added to the collection as a whole.In this way, terms will be discoverable to researchers and willpoint to the collection. 10
    • Finally, accessions that are additions to processed collections.Again, the same fields are being completed. 11
    • When we connect this accession to a processed collection in AT,we update extent information and dates.But in order to retain the existing intellectual arrangement ofthe collection, we create a series-level component for the newaccession.We create a descriptive title for the addition such as“Unprocessed correspondence” add dates and extentinformation, and then, at the component level, we add a scopeand contents note and access note based on the accession.How does this look in the OAC? 12
    • The unprocessed records appear in the list of collection contentsas a series-level component. All notes appear along with thetitle, including the scope and contents note and access note.Again, this exposes accession-specific terms and formats to thepublic. 13
    • At Yale, they also add new accessions to processed collections asa series-level component. The main difference is that at Yale,they have minimally processed the accession.Here is an example from Emory, which is nearly the same aswhat we are doing at UCI. They have created a series in thiscollection specifically for unprocessed additions, which includesa scope and content note and a box number range. 14
    • As we surface unprocessed collections and accessions, we seekways to track user interest through web statistics and requestsfor on-site use. This information will help us create clearerprocessing priorities.“Forgetting the backlog” is an effort to consider access at thepoint of accessioning. MPLP is about less PROCESSING, but italso requires robust DESCRIPTION and contextualization. Ourgoal is to make descriptions of our collections available asquickly and as widely possible.Thank you! 15
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