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Archival Processing And Description


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Archival Processing And Description

  1. 1. Archival Processing and Description<br />(Practices, Dreams, Realities, Projects)<br />
  2. 2. Library vs. Archives Materials<br />Secondary sources<br />Self-conscious creations<br />Items collected and classified at individual level<br />Items described according to well-established standards<br />Primary sources<br />Created in course of business/life<br />Items collected and classified in aggregate <br />Description standards only recently established<br />Library (“neat”) <br />Archives (“messy”)<br />
  3. 3. Library<br />Archive<br />(Illustrated Visually)<br />
  4. 4. Archival Functions<br />Appraise<br />Acquire<br />Arrange<br />Describe<br />Preserve<br />Make accessible<br />[For this presentation, we are concentrating on arrangement and description]<br />
  5. 5. Archival Arrangement<br />1) Variety: the only constant<br />2) Provenance<br />3) Original Order<br />4) Levels<br />5) Physical vs. intellectual order<br />
  6. 6. Variety is the spice of archival life<br />Collections vary greatly in size, format and complexity.<br />
  7. 7. Provenance<br />The context in which records were created is important to understanding historical significance, therefore-<br />The materials generated by one individual, organization or department should not be combined with the materials of another. <br />Examples:<br />College of Agricultural Science Records<br />Conrad Richter Papers<br />Jack Rabin Collection on Alabama Civil Rights<br />
  8. 8. Original Order<br />Important in theory, but often violated in practice<br />Materials should be kept in the order in which they were originally created, maintained or used.<br />However, materials often come to us in no usable order.<br />
  9. 9. Levels<br />Collection, series, subseries<br />Series often determined by subject, function, or form<br />Within a series, filing system: chronological, geographical, alphabetical, etc.<br />
  10. 10. Intellectual vs. physical order<br />One intellectual series could include all materials on a selected topic, however those materials could be:<br />papers (one area of stacks), <br />books (another area of stacks), <br />maps (require flat storage), and <br />photographs (require cold storage)<br />This complicates retrieval as well as arrangement and description.<br />
  11. 11. Describe<br />1) Standards – DACS<br />2) Methods-<br />Database tracking<br />Finding aids <br />Catalog records<br />
  12. 12. DACS: Describing Archives, a Content Standard<br />Some of the elements addressed by DACS:<br />Required elements for different levels of description (minimum, optimum, added value)<br />Title formation<br />Forms of names<br />Elements and examples of biographies and collection overviews<br />(And much, much more)<br />
  13. 13. Database tracking (Oliver homepage)<br />
  14. 14. Oliver Screenshot 2 (HCLA collections)<br />
  15. 15. Oliver Screenshot 3 (collection-items)<br />
  16. 16. Finding Aids<br />Information contained:<br />Administrative information (extent, restrictions, etc.)<br />Institutional History or Biography<br />Collection overview<br />Series Arrangement and Descriptions<br />Box/folder lists<br />Formats: <br /> Can be Word, PDF, HTML, EAD<br />
  17. 17. Online Finding Aid Formats<br />No metadata tagged, but information still online <br />Findable through Google<br />Searchable through “Find in page”<br />Relatively quick and easy<br />Metadata such as creator, subjects, date ranges all tagged<br />Enables sharing with consortia and more precise retrieval<br />Takes more time/training to encode<br />Search software only in beginning stages<br />HTML <br />EAD<br />
  18. 18. Examples<br />HTML: Robert T. Oliver papers<br /><br />EAD: T.R. Johns papers<br /><br />
  19. 19. Robert T. Oliver Papers Finding Aid Screenshot<br />
  20. 20. T.R. Johns Papers Finding Aid Screenshot<br />
  21. 21. Sample EAD code<br />&lt;origination label=&quot;Creator&quot;&gt;&lt;persnameencodinganalog=&quot;100&quot; source=&quot;lcnaf&quot;&gt;Coit, Margaret L., 1919-2003&lt;/persname&gt; &lt;/origination&gt; <br />&lt;unittitle label=&quot;Title&quot; encodinganalog=&quot;245&quot;&gt;Margaret L. Coit Papers, &lt;date type=&quot;inclusive&quot; normal=&quot;1864/2003&quot;&gt;1864-2003,&lt;/date&gt; (bulk &lt;date type=&quot;bulk&quot; normal=&quot;1921/1999&quot;&gt;1921-1999)&lt;/date&gt;&lt;/unittitle&gt; <br />&lt;bioghist&gt; &lt;head&gt;Biographical Note&lt;/head&gt; <br />&lt;p&gt;&lt;persname&gt;Margaret Louise Coit&lt;/persname&gt; was born 30 May 1919 in Norwich, Connecticut, to &lt;persname&gt;Archa Willoughby Coit&lt;/persname&gt;, a stockbroker, and &lt;persname&gt;Grace Coit&lt;/persname&gt; (nee Trow), the principal of a private day school. Two years later, Margaret&apos;s sister Grace was born with Down Syndrome. Caring for Grace would take up much of Coit&apos;s adult life.&lt;/p&gt;<br /> &lt;p&gt; At the start of the Great Depression, Coit&apos;s family moved to &lt;geogname&gt;Greensboro, North Carolina&lt;/geogname&gt;, where Coit attended &lt;corpname&gt;Curry School&lt;/corpname&gt;, a training school located on the grounds of &lt;corpname&gt;Woman&apos;s College&lt;/corpname&gt; (now the &lt;corpname&gt;University of North Carolina at Greensboro&lt;/corpname&gt;, or &lt;corpname&gt;UNCG&lt;/corpname&gt;). &lt;/p&gt; <br />
  22. 22. Catalog records <br />
  23. 23. The Dream<br />In the ideal “hierarchy of surrogacy”, we’d have finding aids for all collections that include item-level inventories, and catalog records that include collection-level summaries and point to those finding aids.<br />Collection  (tracked by database)  described by finding aid  summarized by catalog record<br />
  24. 24. The cold hard reality (boo!)<br />At Special Collections institutions in general*<br />Processing time: mean of 14.8 hours per linear foot<br />Backlog statistics: 34% of institutions say more than half of their collections are unprocessed, 60% at least a third unprocessed<br />
  25. 25. (Cold, hard reality continued)<br />At PSU Special Collections:<br />About 75% of our collections are in the Cat<br />About 30% of our collections have finding aids<br />About 25% of our collections have neither (“hidden collections”)<br />
  26. 26. *Meissner-Greene<br />“More product, less process” (MPLP)<br />Sacrifice detail in order to describe everything at collection level first, so that researchers know what you have<br />Processing can be flexible, different levels between and within collections<br />“Good processing is done with a shovel, not with tweezers”<br />
  27. 27. Pertinent PSU Specoll Projects<br />Core records<br />Make catalog records at COLLECTION level for all<br />Finding aids<br />Generate HTML finding aids from Oliver<br />Future plans<br />New database system and more EAD<br />