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More Product, Less Process:

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More Product, Less Process: Mark A. Greene, American Heritage Center Dennis Meissner, Minnesota Historical Society Mark Greene Director, American Heritage Center ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: More Product, Less Process:


1
More Product, Less Process
Mark A. Greene, American Heritage Center Dennis
Meissner, Minnesota Historical Society
2
Mark Greene
  • Director, American Heritage Center, University of
    Wyoming

3
Why did we work on this?
  • My experience at four repositories with
    significant backlogs of unprocessed materials
    Carleton College, Minnesota Historical Society,
    Henry Ford Museum, AHC
  • Dennis experience as processing manager at MHS

4
The Problem
  • Archival processing does not keep pace with the
    growth of collections

5
The Problem
  • Archival processing does not keep pace with the
    growth of collections
  • Unprocessed backlogs continue to grow

6
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7
The Problem
  • Archival processing does not keep pace with the
    growth of collections
  • Unprocessed backlogs continue to grow
  • Researchers denied access to collections

8
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9
The Problem
  • Archival processing does not keep pace with the
    growth of collections
  • Unprocessed backlogs continue to grow
  • Researchers denied access to collections
  • Our image with donors and resource allocators
    suffers

10
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11
Findings
  • Processing benchmarks and practices are
    inappropriate to deal with problems posed by
    large contemporary collections

12
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13
Findings
  • Processing benchmarks and practices are
    inappropriate to deal with problems posed by
    large contemporary collections
  • Ideal vs. necessary

14
Findings
  • Processing benchmarks and practices are
    inappropriate to deal with problems posed by
    large contemporary collections
  • Ideal vs. necessary
  • Fixation on item level tasks

15
Findings
  • Processing benchmarks and practices are
    inappropriate to deal with problems posed by
    large contemporary collections
  • Ideal vs. necessary
  • Fixation on item level tasks
  • Preservation anxieties trump user needs

16
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17
Findings
  • Arrangement
  • Practice Still often at the item level

18
Findings
  • Arrangement
  • Practice Still often at the item level
  • Warrant Literature mixed, but much advises
    against item level work

19
Findings
  • Description
  • Practice
  • Weak commitment to online access
  • Little focus on item level

20
Findings
  • Description
  • Practice
  • Weak commitment to online access
  • Little focus on item level
  • Warrant
  • Describe all holdings, in general, before
    describing some in detail
  • Descriptive level follows arrangement level
  • Level varies from collection to collection

21
Findings
  • Conservation
  • Practice Strong commitment to item level work

22
Findings
  • Conservation
  • Practice Strong commitment to item level work
  • Warrant Item-focused conservation prescriptions
    often contradict advice on arrangement and
    description

23
Findings
  • Metrics
  • Literature Range of 4-40 hours per cubic foot

24
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25
Findings
  • Metrics
  • Literature Range of 4-40 hours per cubic foot
  • However, a convincing body of experience
    coalesces at the high-productivity end
  • Maher, 1982 (3.4 hours per cubic foot)
  • Haller, 1987 (3.8 hours per cubic foot)
  • Northeastern University Processing Manual (4-10
    hours per cubic foot)

26
Findings
  • Metrics
  • Literature Range of 4 - 40 hours per cubic foot
  • Grant Project Survey 0.6 67 hours per cubic
    foot (Mode 33 hours Mean 9 hours)

27
Findings
  • Metrics
  • Literature Range of 4 - 40 hours per cubic foot
  • Grant Project Survey 0.6 67 hours per cubic
    foot (Mode 33 Mean 9)
  • Survey of Archivists 2 250 hours per cubic
    foot (Mode 8 Mean 14.8)

28
Recommendations
  • General Principles for Change

29
Recommendations
  • General Principles for Change
  • Establish acceptable minimum level of work, and
    make it the processing benchmark

30
Recommendations
  • General Principles for Change
  • Establish acceptable minimum level of work, and
    make it the benchmark
  • Dont assume all collections, or all collection
    components, will be processed to same level

31
Recommendations
  • Arrangement
  • Description
  • Conservation
  • Productivity

32
Recommendations
  • Arrangement
  • In normal or typical situations, the physical
    arrangement of materials in archival groups and
    manuscript collections should not take place
    below the series level

33
Recommendations
  • Arrangement
  • In normal or typical situations, the physical
    arrangement of materials in archival groups and
    manuscript collections should not take place
    below the series level
  • Not all series and all files in a collection need
    to be arranged to the same level

34
Recommendations
  • Description
  • Since description represents arrangement
    describe materials at a level of detail
    appropriate to that level of arrangement.

35
Recommendations
  • Description
  • Since description represents arrangement
    describe materials at a level of detail
    appropriate to that level of arrangement
  • Keep description brief and simple

36
Recommendations
  • Description
  • Since description represents arrangement
    describe materials at a level of detail
    appropriate to that level of arrangement
  • Keep description brief and simple
  • Level of description should vary across
    collections, and across components within a
    collection

37
Recommendations
  • Conservation
  • Rely on storage area environmental controls to
    carry the conservation burden

38
Recommendations
  • Conservation
  • Rely on storage area environmental controls to
    carry the conservation burden
  • Avoid wholesale refoldering
  • Avoid removing and replacing metal fasteners
  • Avoid photocopying items on poor paper

39
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40
Recommendations
  • Conservation
  • Rely on storage area environmental controls to
    carry the conservation burden
  • Dont perform conservation tasks at a lower
    hierarchical level than you perform arrangement
    and description

41
Recommendations
  • Productivity
  • A processing archivist ought to be able to
    arrange and describe large twentieth century
    archival materials at an average rate of four
    hours per cubic foot

42
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43
The goal of all this
  • is to make our patrons, donors, administrators,
    and funders happy, proving that repositories can
    use the resources they have to the best advantage
    and with the greatest efficiency.

44
Questions
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