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Revisiting Backlog Processing with MPLP


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In August 2014, I was hired by the Reuther Library at Wayne State University to process 1700 linear feet of American Federation of Teachers records in 18 months. At the outset, I was concerned about some of the common complaints people have about the More Product, Less Process method, but I have found them to be manageable. Included in this poster are explanations of some of the issues I have encountered and how I have dealt with them. Overall, I have found MPLP to be very effective and I am on track to finish this project on time.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Revisiting Backlog Processing with MPLP

  1. 1. Revisiting  Backlog  Processing  with  MPLP   More  Product,  Less  Process  and  the  American  Federation  of  Teachers  Backlog  Project   Stefanie  Caloia,  AFT  Project  Archivist,  Wayne  State  University   Reflect   Adapt   Process   Processing  1700  Linear  Feet  in     18  months   Methods   Outcomes  (so  far)   Space   Weeding  was  not  done  at  single  page   level.  Large  groupings  of  duplicate   material,  government  and  other   unannotated  publications,  large  groups   of  newspaper  clippings,  and  binder  clips   were  removed.  Folders  shifted  and  boxes   condensed  where  possible.   91  LF  of  space  saved  so  far.   Reference:   Greene,  Mark  A.  and  Dennis  Meissner.  “More  Product,  Less  Process:     Revamping  Traditional  Archival  Processing”  American  Archivist,  vol.  68    (  Fall/Winter  2005):   208-­‐263.   Contact:   Stefanie  Caloia,  AFT  Project  Archivist   Walter  P.  Reuther  Library  of  Labor  and  Urban  Affairs,  Wayne  State  University   ! Challenges   Sensitive  material     Having  a  thorough  understanding  of  a  collection  allows   sensitive  items  to  be  identi]ied.  Project  archivists  need  time  to   get  up  to  speed  on  this  but  talking  with  senior  members  of   staff  or  reading  literature  on  similar  collections  can  help.   Skimming  documents  to  locate  information  can  work  quickly   once  the  archivist  is  more  familiar  with  the  documents.   Conclusions   Ongoing  Challenges   Access   Description  was  added  to  make  up  for  less-­‐ detailed  arrangement.  For  example,  an   explanation  of  why  items  are  arranged  a   certain  way  that  may  not  be  immediately   obvious  to  researchers  but  can  help  them   navigate  records.  More  description  on   scope  and  content,  less  in  administrative   histories.     Preservation   Quickly  ]lipping  through  folder   contents  can  reveal  major  problems   that  need  addressing.  The  biggest   problems  with  these  collections  are   acidic  and  thermal  paper.  Some   preservation  photocopying  was   completed.   Refoldering   Some  folders  always  need  to  be  replaced,   such  as  hanging  ]ile  folders.     Processed  8  Collections/980  LF  in  12  months   12  months/980  LF  =  ~  2.15  hours/LF     Researchers  are  already  using  processed  collections  –    sometimes  asking  for  them   before  they  are  complete.     Space   Pressure  to  downsize  collections  for  ever-­‐present  space  concerns  requires   time  consuming  item-­‐level  review     Preservation   Thermal  paper,  news  print,  and  other  acidic  or  fragile  material  need  attention     Access   Minimal  arrangement  and  description  may  make  navigating  the  collections   dif]icult  and  limit  researcher  access     Sensitive  Material   Collections  contain  grievance  ]iles,  personnel  ]iles,  and  other  sensitive   information  that  requires  review  and  removal     Greene  &  Meissner’s  More  Product,  Less  Process     Process  according  to  needs  of  the  collection,  and  determine  “the  Golden  Minimum”   Average  linear  foot  should  take  4  hours  to  process     The  Reuther  Library’s  Processing  Guidelines   Level  I  –  Folder-­‐level  arrangement  –  closest  to  traditional  processing   Level  II  –  Series-­‐level  arrangement,  minimal  description   Level  III  –  Box  level  –  no  arrangement,  just  inventory   Levels  II  &  III  expected  to  take  1-­‐2  hours/linear  foot;  Level  I:  4hrs/LF   15  Collections  from  the  American  Federation  of  Teachers  national  of]ice  and   local  af]iliates     Processing  at  various  levels  (see  Methods)  based  on  collection  and  researcher   needs     Collections  range  from  well  organized  with  box  inventories  to  unfoldered   documents  with  no  inventories     Accessions  from  1970s-­‐2000s;  records  from  1916-­‐2005     1700LF/18  months  =  ~1.7  hours/LF     Project  runs  August  2014-­‐February  2016