INFO 6800 (Winter 2013) Appraisal Assignment


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Handout for Archival Appraisal assignment, part of the Winter 2013 session of INFO 6800 Archives.

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INFO 6800 (Winter 2013) Appraisal Assignment

  1. 1. INFO 6800 Archives – Appraisal AssignmentDue Date: February 25, 2013Assignment Weight: 20%Assignment Goals:  To develop an understanding of archival appraisal and documenting the appraisal process  To gain practical experience appraising archival materialsRelevant Course Learning Objectives:  To develop an understanding of the core archival functions and how they are practiced in contemporary Canadian archives  To develop an understanding of the various documentary formats found in archives  To explore the differences between organizational records and personal papers and the requirements of each from an archival perspective  To develop an understanding of the fundamental differences between archives and libraries and the interdependence of records management and archives in managing recordsAssignment Description:For this assignment, you will be appraising a small fonds held by the DalhousieUniversity Archives. The assignment has two parts. Part A involves conducting anarchival appraisal of the materials. Part B involves writing an appraisal report thatdocuments your appraisal. INFO 6800 Archives (Winter 2013) – Archival Appraisal Assignment | 1
  2. 2. Available documentation on each fonds will be posted on the course blackboard site.This could include one or more of the following:  An accession record  A rudimentary file list created by the person who accessioned the materials  Correspondence and other documentation from the case fileA sign-up sheet will be posted on the course blackboard site. Review thedocumentation on each fonds and use the sign-up sheet to choose a fonds.You must go to the Archives and Special Collections reading room on the 5th floor of theKillam Library to gain access to the fonds. The records will be provided in two or threearchival boxes. Files in each box may not be numbered. Please note that this is aquiet study area. Food and drinks are not permitted in the reading room at anytime. It is very important that you arrange to come in during reading room hours(available online at consult me if you have any problems gaining access to the materials you havebeen assigned.Part A: Instructions 1. Review available documentation and gather any other available information to become familiar with the history, functions, activities, and transactions of the creator of the fonds you have chosen. 2. Questions you might want to ask (but should not limit yourself to) include: a. What is the creator known for? b. What were the functions and activities of the creator? c. Who would the creator have interacted with and for what purpose? d. What kind of records would capture the key functions, activities, and transactions of the creator? e. What is the condition of the records? f. What are the processing, preservation, and access requirements of the records? INFO 6800 Archives (Winter 2013) – Archival Appraisal Assignment | 2
  3. 3. 3. Develop a set of retention criteria based on your understanding of the fonds, the creator, and the repository’s Collection Policy ( ml) 4. Conduct an archival appraisal of the fonds.Part A: Helpful Tips 1. You may wish to use Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management’s draft Standard of Practice for Archival Appraisal ( as a guide for your appraisal. There are many other appraisal guides and policy documents online. 2. Make sure you retain the original sequence of files in the box and folders. 3. Decisions about retaining or discarding materials should happen at the file level. Do not attempt to make disposition recommendations about individual items within a file unless you are speaking generally about the collection (e.g., a recommendation that clippings be weeded and discarded, or that they be physically separated during processing). 4. Remember that you will also have to explain your appraisal criteria and disposition recommendations in an appraisal report. You may find it helpful to set up a template for your appraisal report before conducting the appraisal.Part B: InstructionsAn essential component of conducting archival appraisals is the documentation of theappraisal process. To document your appraisal, write an appraisal report that includes: 1. A brief description of the records and their provenance 2. A description of the physical condition of the records and their containers 3. An explanation of any conservation requirements that may exist 4. An explanation of the methodology and rationale (i.e., retention criteria) used to appraise the records 5. An explanation of the results of the archival appraisal INFO 6800 Archives (Winter 2013) – Archival Appraisal Assignment | 3
  4. 4. a. You may wish to include a list of the files you are recommending to be discarded and/or an explanation of the kinds of materials you are recommending to be discarded 6. Recommendations about how to deal with discarded materials 7. Recommendations for preservation and archival processingIf materials in the fonds do not clearly correspond to the rudimentary file list or ifmaterials in the list are not extant in the fonds, explain how you handled thesesituations.Part B: Helpful Tips 1. Think of your appraisal report as a comprehensive assessment of the fonds. It should document your archival appraisal and include information to assist processing, preservation, and general archives management decision-making. For example, the report should allow the processing archivist to easily identify what should be processed and what should discarded, and it should also help serve as a permanent administrative record of what was discarded and why. It should also be useful for preservation and conservation decisions now and in the future. 2. Make sure your report is concise and formatted for readability. Think of it as something that will be included in a case file for future reference.Handing in your work:Please submit your work using the assignment drop box in the course blackboard site.Your appraisal report should be submitted in a word processing file. Do not submit aPDF. Label your files according to the following specifications: LastnameFirstname-INFO6800-AppraisalReport INFO 6800 Archives (Winter 2013) – Archival Appraisal Assignment | 4
  5. 5. Assessment:The appraisal report will be graded according to four criteria: expression,comprehension, file list, and overall presentation. I will provide a breakdown of yourmark out of a possible 20 points.Expression (5 points)Your appraisal report will be assessed for grammar, punctuation, diction, spelling, andyour ability to clearly and concisely document the archival appraisal.Comprehension (5 points)Evidence of your understanding of archival appraisal will be assessed. This will includeyour understanding of archival appraisal methodology and your ability to develop andapply appropriate retention criteria.Structure (5 points)The appraisal report will be assessed in terms of its adherence to the instructions. Thiswill include an assessment of the structure and completeness of the report as thequality and accuracy of the information provided.Overall Presentation (5 points)This component assesses the overall quality of your appraisal report, including font andformatting choices, layout, and attention to detail.Marks:Marks will be provided in letter grades that conform to the School of InformationManagement’s Grading System: feel free to consult me if you have any questions about the grading of your work. INFO 6800 Archives (Winter 2013) – Archival Appraisal Assignment | 5