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Wartburg Archives Procedure Manual: Arrangement &
Description

Procedure manual for staff, student workers, interns and volunteers of Wartburg College Archives and Archives of Iowa Broadcasting.

Arrangement and Description

Archival Arrangement and Description is also called “Processing.” In general, this is physical organization of the collections material and the recording of descriptive information to facilitate access. There will be considerable variety in the types and level of processing completed depending on the particular collection. The Archivist will help to set those priorities during the creation of a Processing Plan.

Processing Plan

Use the Processing Plan Template to assess the materials, identify series, determine preservation needs, ensure adequate supplies are on hand, and to list out the steps to be undertaken while processing.

  1. A group of records that comes from a single creator is considered a collection. A collection may arrive at the Archives in a single transfer, or over multiple occasions (additions to an existing collection are called accretions).
  2. Within a collection, there could be smaller subgroups of like records that are called Series. Series can be based on the content of the material (i.e. – Correspondence, Annual Reports, Publications, Financial Ledgers) or by the format of the object (Audio Recordings, Maps, Photographs).

Preservation

Preservation needs should be assessed while creating the Processing Plan. Simple tasks such as unfolding creases and removing staples can be done while processing. Larger or more complicated tasks, including any conservation or restoration work, should be noted in the Finding Aid and the item separated from the collection until the work can be performed. This may require hiring outside specialists such as a Conservator.

More Product, Less Process

The prevailing philosophy in Archival Processing is based on the “More Product, Less Process” guidelines (Mark Greene, Dennis Meissner, 2005), which seek to reduce backlogs in Archives and increase access to materials. These guidelines involve minimal steps for physical preservation of archival materials and the use of sufficient description to facilitate use of records. The Wartburg Archives supports the availability of their archival collections while remaining dedicated to the responsible stewardship and preservation of these materials, but also understands the resource limitations of a small staff.

Vogel Library, Wartburg College   |   100 Wartburg Blvd, Waverly, IA, 50677 |   Phone: 319-352-8500   | Email: asklibrarian@wartburg.edu