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A presentation on archival appraisal

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  1. 1. APPRAISAL At Timothy Knapp House Archives Rye Historical Society Friday, May 9, 2008 Archivists of Religious Institutions and Lower Hudson Conference Presenter: Sharon A. Pullen, C.A.
  2. 2. Appraisal – what is it? <ul><li>The process of identifying materials offered to an archives that have sufficient value to be accessioned. </li></ul><ul><li>The process of determining the length of time records should be retained, based on legal requirements and on their current and potential usefulness. </li></ul><ul><li>The process of determining the market value of an item; monetary appraisal. </li></ul>
  3. 3. What is Archival Appraisal ? <ul><li>In an archival context, appraisal is the process of determining whether records and other materials have permanent (archival) value. </li></ul><ul><li>May be done at the collection, creator, series, file, or item level. </li></ul><ul><li>Can take place prior to donation and prior to physical transfer, at or after accessioning. </li></ul>
  4. 4. How is Archival Appraisal Different? <ul><li>Appraisal is distinguished from monetary appraisal, which estimates fair market value. </li></ul><ul><li>Appraisal is distinguished from evaluation, which is typically used by records managers to indicate a preliminary assessment of value based on existing retention schedules. </li></ul><ul><li>Appraisal often takes place within a larger institutional collecting policy and mission statement. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Some Bases of Appraisal Decisions <ul><li>Records' provenance and content, </li></ul><ul><li>Authenticity and reliability, </li></ul><ul><li>Order and completeness, </li></ul><ul><li>Condition and costs to preserve them, </li></ul><ul><li>Intrinsic value. </li></ul><ul><li>Institutional acquisition/collecting policy and mission statement. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Acquisition <ul><li>Priorities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Established by Appraisal guidelines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Affected by cost analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Strategy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Internal organizational culture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Documentation goals </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Method </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Internal acquisitions only </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Donations accepted </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Funding/budget for purchase </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. ELEMENTS OF AN ACQUISITION POLICY <ul><li>Statement outlining the legal authorization establishing the archival program </li></ul><ul><li>Statement outlining the general role and mission of the archives </li></ul><ul><li>Statement outlining acquisition responsibility for </li></ul><ul><ul><li>records of the sponsoring body </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>records related to the functions of the sponsoring body </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>records generated from other sources </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Definition of terms </li></ul>
  8. 8. Common Elements of the Appraisal Process <ul><li>Clearly defined mission statement </li></ul><ul><li>Collection strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Research about creator </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis of current holdings </li></ul><ul><li>Cost analysis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Staff </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Storage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Preservation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Establish collection priorities </li></ul>
  9. 9. Acquisition & Appraisal: The Chicken or the Egg? <ul><li>Acquisition without established appraisal guidelines </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Accumulation, not collection </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Virtually impossible to arrange </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Appraisal without acquisition/collection policy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>General - unrelated to individual repository </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pointless - everything is valuable to somebody </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Appraisal Specifics Moving Theory into Practice
  11. 11. Archival Value – Classic Theory <ul><li>Evidential </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Documents origins </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Documents programs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Informational </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Persons </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Things </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Events </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Further Developments of Values <ul><li>Operating </li></ul><ul><li>Administrative </li></ul><ul><li>Fiscal </li></ul><ul><li>Legal </li></ul><ul><li>Archival </li></ul>
  13. 13. Intrinsic Value <ul><li>The usefulness or significance of an item derived from its physical or associational qualities, inherent in its original form and generally independent of its content , that are integral to its material nature and would be lost in reproduction. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Intrinsic Value - continued <ul><li>Records possessing qualities that make disposal undesirable even if an adequate copy exists – have intrinsic value </li></ul><ul><li>Records that can be destroyed if an adequate copy were made – do not have an intrinsic value in the archival sense </li></ul>
  15. 15. Taking the Mystery Out of Appraisal
  16. 16. Appraisal as a “Black Box” <ul><li>“ Black Box” is a conceptual model used to simplify the representation of a process by indicating only the inputs and outputs of a device without regard to its internal functions or mechanisms. </li></ul><ul><li>In archives, the term usually refers to Frank Boles' and Julia Marks Young's article, &quot;Exploring the Black Box: The Appraisal of University Administrative Records,&quot; In which they argue that for too long the actual process of archival appraisal decisions was implicitly viewed as an impenetrable mystery. </li></ul><ul><li>Boles and Young defined specific elements that should go into making an appraisal, and argued that these could be refined to a mathematical model. </li></ul>
  17. 17. The “Black Box” – Boles & Young <ul><li>Value of Information </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Circumstances of Creation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Analysis of Content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use of Records </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cost of Retention </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Storage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Processing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Preservation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reference </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Implications of Appraisal Recommendation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Political </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Procedural </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Archival Sampling
  19. 19. What is Sampling? <ul><li>The process of selecting items from a collection to stand for the collection as a whole </li></ul><ul><li>In appraisal, sampling may be used to select a representative portion of records for preservation from a large series that will not be preserved in its entirety. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Sampling <ul><li>Works best when the Record Series is homogenous </li></ul><ul><li>Viable option for series that: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some research value, but not enough to justify retention of the whole </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Too large a volume to store hard copy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prohibitively high cost to reformat whole series </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Sampling Techniques <ul><li>Probability or statistical sampling </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Random </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Systematic </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Purposive or judgmental sampling </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Exemplary </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Exceptional </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Functional Analysis
  23. 23. Functional Analysis - Definition <ul><li>A technique that sets priorities for appraising and processing materials of an office based on the relative importance of the functions the office performs in an organization. </li></ul><ul><li>Argues that records be appraised only after the functions of an institution are defined and understood. Record appraisal then becomes a matter of identifying or creating records which best document the institution's functions. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Helen W. Samuels’ six-step model <ul><li>Translate functions to specific institution </li></ul><ul><li>Draft documentary goals </li></ul><ul><li>Apply a functional understanding to the preparation of administrative histories of units </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluate documentation already in archival care and that still housed in offices </li></ul><ul><li>Assess resources available to preserve documentation </li></ul><ul><li>Confirm documentary goals and the proposed process to achieve them </li></ul>
  25. 25. More Product, Less Process
  26. 26. The Minnesota Method Greene & Daniels-Howell <ul><li>Define the institution’s mission and goals </li></ul><ul><li>Analyze its extant holdings </li></ul><ul><li>Survey the broader documentary universe, receiving input and advice from outside the repository </li></ul><ul><li>Define a set of criteria for organizing and prioritizing records creators into broad groups. These criteria should be based upon the repository’s particular mission, resources and clientele. </li></ul>
  27. 27. The Minnesota Method Greene & Daniels-Howell (continued) <ul><li>Establish a range of documentation levels to permit flexibility in accepting collections from creators of different priority status </li></ul><ul><li>Define, if necessary, further criteria (“decision points”) for refining the prioritization of records creators </li></ul><ul><li>Link the priority group levels, the decision points, and the documentation levels </li></ul>
  28. 28. The Minnesota Method Greene & Daniels-Howell (finish) <ul><li>Use this framework to guide acquisition and appraisal decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Revise the framework over time to reflect the evolution of the repository’s mission and goals, the success of past acquisitions, and economic considerations </li></ul>
  29. 29. Use as a Primary Appraisal Criteria <ul><li>Is pragmatic rather than theoretically-based </li></ul><ul><li>More user-centered than other methods </li></ul><ul><li>Analyzes series volume to use statistics </li></ul><ul><li>Requires use data to be collected </li></ul><ul><li>Can favor majority populations </li></ul><ul><li>Deals only with current and/or past user needs </li></ul>
  30. 30. Greene’s caveats <ul><li>Utilitarian approach is not perfect </li></ul><ul><li>Practicality and broad applicability depend upon an increasing number of use studies </li></ul><ul><li>Not a “magic bullet” </li></ul>
  31. 31. Approaches Outside the USA
  32. 32. INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVES <ul><li>United Kingdom </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Derived from Sir Hilary Jenkinson </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fundamental difference in definition of “archival” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Canada </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Total Archives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Responsibility for both public and private archives </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Macro-appraisal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Planned, research-based, top-down, functions-centered approach centered on the citizen’s interaction with the state </li></ul></ul></ul>
  33. 33. INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVES <ul><li>Australia </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Records Continuum </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No distinction between records manager and archivist, rather the recordkeeping profession </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Embraces the view that records function simultaneously as organizational and collective memory from the time of their creation </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. Life Cycle vs Continuum <ul><li>Clearly definable stage in recordkeeping </li></ul><ul><li>Records serve “organizational memory” early in their life and “collective memory” later </li></ul><ul><li>Different professionals (records managers and archivists) responsible for different parts of the life cycle </li></ul><ul><li>No clearly definable stages in recordkeeping </li></ul><ul><li>Records are both “current” and “historical” from the moment of creation </li></ul><ul><li>No separation of responsibility among professionals </li></ul>
  35. 35. How does all this affect you? <ul><li>Awareness of international practices can aid you with your own appraisal, even though some principles vary </li></ul><ul><li>Knowing various approaches to appraisal, you can more easily decide which will fit your institution </li></ul><ul><li>Reference to underlying theory will support your decisions within your organization </li></ul>
  36. 36. Which approach? <ul><li>Depends on </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Size of institution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Type of institution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Archives Budget </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Staff size </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Any existing policies or guidelines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organizational politics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Access and Use </li></ul></ul>
  37. 37. Best Practice <ul><li>Consolidated Mission Statement including: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Acquisition policy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Appraisal framework </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Uniform application of policies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Informed staff </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Always exceptions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Clearly defined authority </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Responsibility for final decisions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Documentation </li></ul></ul>
  38. 38.                                         Archival Appraisal Richard J. Cox                             “ Archival appraisal is the most critical task of the archivist. The archivist’s process in determining continuing value affects all other archival functions, as well as makes an impact on individual, organizational, and societal memory. Since this is one of the most important responsibilities of the archivist, anyone intending to work as an archivist must be knowledgeable about appraisal. Archival appraisal, and the techniques and models that have developed to support this function, also represents one of the unique contributions of the archivist to the information professions --”