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INFO 6800 (Winter 2013) Finding Aid Evaluation Assignment


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Handout for the Finding Aid Evaluation, part of the Winter 2013 session of INFO 6800 Archives

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INFO 6800 (Winter 2013) Finding Aid Evaluation Assignment

  1. 1. INFO 6800 Archives – Finding Aid EvaluationDue Date: April 1, 2013Assignment Weight: 20%Assignment Goals:  To develop an understanding of finding aids and how they represent archival fonds intellectually and physically  To develop an understanding of how important finding aids are to conducting archival research  To become aware of the impact of archival description standardsRelevant 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 fundamental differences between archives and libraries and the interdependence of records management and archives in managing recordsAssignment Description:For this assignment, you will be analyzing the effectiveness of finding aids and archivaldescription standards. Evaluate three finding aids and write a 1500-2000 word paper inwhich you use your experience to discuss the effectiveness of finding aids and archivaldescription standards.  Choose three multi-level finding aids from the following list of websites: o Archeoin: o Dalhousie University Archives: INFO 6800 Archives (Winter 2013) – Finding Aid Evaluation Assignment | 1
  2. 2. o Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: (Note you must find a full finding aid in the catalog. This list may be helpful: o War Museum Military History Research Centre: the-military-history-research-centre/ o The Law Society of Upper Canada: o McMaster University Archives: o Brigham Young University Manuscript Collection Descriptions: Note your finding aids MUST contain file-level descriptions. Many finding aids in the above sites only contain fonds-level descriptions, so ensure you choose three finding aids with file-level descriptions. Your finding aids must come from three different websites. Do not choose multiple finding aids from the same archives or database. Review your finding aids and develop a set of evaluation criteria. You should be able to apply the criteria to each finding aid. Use the evaluation criteria to analyze and assess the qualities of each finding aid. You may want to consider the following questions (but do not necessarily limit yourself to these) when evaluating each finding aid: o How effective is the finding aid as a research tool? o Is the finding aid an effective surrogate for archival materials? o Is the finding aid RAD-compliant? Or does it comply with another description standard (e.g., DACS, ISAD(G), etc.). o Do archival description standards make the finding aid easier to use? Explain. o What elements do the finding aids and physical materials have in common? INFO 6800 Archives (Winter 2013) – Finding Aid Evaluation Assignment | 2
  3. 3. o How are the finding aids organized? o Is their structure logical and intuitive? o Would you change anything about the intellectual arrangement of the collection? If so, why? o How does the finding aid explain the physical format of the materials? o How accessible is the finding aid? o What would make the finding aid better?  Write an evaluation that explains your evaluation criteria and compares and contrasts the three finding aids in accordance with the criteria.  In the introductory paragraph of your essay, outline what experience, if any, you have previously using archival finding aids.You are strongly encouraged to review published evaluations of archival software andother library and archives evaluations to get a sense of how they are structured andpresented.Handing in Your Work:Submit your finding aid evaluation using the blackboard assignment submission tool.Assessment:The finding aid evaluation will be graded according to four criteria: expression,comprehension, structure, and overall presentation. I will provide a breakdown of yourmark out of a possible 20 points.Expression (5 points)Your finding aid evaluation will be assessed for grammar, punctuation, diction, spelling,and your ability to clearly and concisely convey arguments and ideas.Comprehension (5 points)Evidence of your understanding of arrangement and description and your ability toconduct evaluations will be assessed. This will include your ability to develop and INFO 6800 Archives (Winter 2013) – Finding Aid Evaluation Assignment | 3
  4. 4. describe meaningful evaluation criteria and provide an informed discussion of thetheoretical and practical aspects of representing archival fonds in finding aids and theimplications for archivists and users.Structure (5 points)The structure of your finding aid evaluation will be assessed in terms of the flow andorganization of your ideas. This will include sentence and paragraph structure and theessay’s overall structure (introduction, body, and conclusion).Overall Presentation (5 points)This component assesses the overall quality of your finding aid evaluation and aspectsof your essay otherwise unaccounted for, including font and formatting 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) – Finding Aid Evaluation Assignment | 4