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Wartburg Archives Procedure Manual: Arrangement
Procedure manual for staff, student workers, interns and volunteers of Wartburg College Archives and Archives of Iowa Broadcasting.
ARRANGEMENT is the process of organizing materials with respect to their provenance and original order, to protect their context and to achieve physical or intellectual control over the materials. Arrangement is usually undertaken concurrently with description.
The Wartburg Archives generally arranges collections of paper/photographic materials to the FOLDER level, and media items to the ITEM level.
Ideally, an arrangement schema will already be present in the materials. Archivists strive to keep materials in their Original Order, and so they must pay attention to how the materials come to the Archives from the Creator.
If no arrangement method is present at the time of acquisition, the Archivist or other staff member will try to recreate it by determining how the records were created and how they were used (i.e. – created chronologically, or filed alphabetically by name).
It may not be a worthwhile expenditure of resources and time to create or recreate the arrangement of a series or collection. Factors such as size and importance of collection should be used to determine how much effort to put toward this.
Make note of the existing arrangement method or the method imposed by Archives staff. This information must be included in the finding aid because it provides invaluable context for researchers.
Boxes are to be placed on the shelf based on available space. While it is preferable to group all boxes from the same collection together on the shelf, it is not necessary if space does not allow. Be sure to record the shelf location of each box or item so that information can be recorded in the finding aid.
This is often the most difficult part of arranging collections. If the collection is already in good order, the series might be readily apparent, but sometimes you may need to go through the process of sorting/creating folders before the series breakdown will become apparent.
If there is a preliminary inventory, survey or box list use this to assist in determining series.
If creating your own schema, keep it as simple as possible. Arrange series chronologically, or by "most" to "least" important. Arrange within series by common schemas, such as alphabetically or chronologically.