Saturday, April 18, 2009

Making the Jump: Standardization of Practice

In addition to the important and lengthy work spent standardizing our collections management data, Manuscripts & Archives also had to analyze its practices and procedures to determine how the AT could handle them.

1. Accessioning

For quite some time now we've handled accessioning differently on the University Archives side than on the manuscript side. This has resulted in two widely different processes, and two sets of disparate accession info. To remedy this situation we developed an accession checklist and procedures common to both University Archives and manuscripts, as well as instructions and tutorials for accessioning using the AT.

2. Description

As with accessioning, description has also differed between University Archives and manuscripts. With the welcome addition of Bill Landis as head of arrangement and description, and considerable time spent on the University Archives side revising its processes, this disparity has been addressed. Also helpful has been the creation of descriptive standards for handing a/v materials and electronic records, as well as the creation of finding aid templates and EAD best practices guidelines.

3. Collections management

This was less of a problem as collections management was handled well by one person for quite a while. The only problems we encountered were from incomplete data and improper use of the system by clerical staff (e.g. entering temporary holdings, capturing accession or descriptive info, or entering several different data elments of in a single note field). To address these problems we had to map out export of the problematic data elements into appropriate AT fields (where possible) and plan for post-import clean-up in the AT.

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