Accessioning and Processing Manual

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The goal of this manual is to create a uniform system for accessioning and donor files to streamline and simplify administrative procedures and to work toward a more efficient approach of managing the SCRC. Detailed instructions, including standard language required in database fields, can be found in the SCRC's Archon User Manual.

Accessioning

Administrative Control

  • Accessioning should happen as soon as possible after a collection and all required paperwork has been received and completed.
    • Assign accession number from Excel spreadsheet on O-drive: include Acc. numbers, brief titles, and note if new accession is an addition to existing accession. Assign within 7 days of receipt unless special circumstances, etc. apply. University Archives Collection Numbers also assigned.
  • We will move toward a uniform handling of additions: new accessions that are additions to collections that already have a record, will be added to the existing record. We will make a note for each additional accession in the description field and the acquisition fields. The term ‘ongoing’ will be added to the date field at the time of first addition. We may decide on a case by case basis to go back and combine multiple records.


Initial Minimal Description and Determining of Processing Level

Goal: Make all collections accessible to researchers, even if it is not on the ideal level immediately. It is understood that with this new approach of immediate yet less detailed processing, researchers are given the advantage of access to previously ‘hidden’ collections, while possibly having to spend more time on site working with said collections. Archivists may also spend more time helping researchers with those collections that have minimal finding aids. Time spent by staff on the reference end can also be translated into description as we may be able to document data when assisting the researcher with a collection. Overall, we believe these steps are worth taking and will result in a significant improvement of our services.

  • All accessions will receive a minimal descriptive entry, which is made directly into Archon as part of the accessioning process. These steps will ensure the accession is immediately searchable and available to researchers and SCRC staff. We are also eliminating the duplication of all descriptive efforts by skipping previously used forms, be it paper, Word or Excel documents, etc. Detailed instructions, including standard language required in database fields, can be found in the SCRC's Archon User Manual. The fields required to be completed during accessioning:
    • creator
    • title
    • date range
    • physical extent
    • collection level description summary
    • a few (usually 1-4) subject headings
    • call and accession numbers (if different)
    • restrictions
    • acquisition information (including method,as specific a date as possible, and in cases of gifts also the source)
    • physical location
    • preferred citation
    • findingaid author
  • This initial accessioning is a form of minimal processing, which represents level 1 on a scale from 1-6, with 6 being the most detailed treatment a collection can receive both in physical as well as in intellectual handling. See the Processing Levels document.
  • While surveying material for the minimal accession description, the archivist will decide which processing level to assign each accession. Levels 5 and 6 should be reviewed by the APC. (See the Processing Levels document.)
  • After Archon entry has been completed and detail level determined, make entry into survery database.
  • The criteria will help the APC in ranking the accessions in order of their importance, so that those deemed most valuable to our researchers are handled first. Criteria might be weighted differently for processing level and priority considerations. Criteria that help the archivist to determine in how much detail a collection should be processed and described include (not necessarily in this order):
    • Relevance/use to WM students, faculty, & staff
    • Relevance/use to non-WM users
    • Organization of collection upon receipt
    • Preservation needs of the collection
    • University vital or permanent record
    • Commitments made by SCRC or another campus office to a donor
    • Funds for processing donated with the collection
    • Collection size
    • A brief creator record should be created in the database as necessary. This may be as simple as the office name, who it reports to, and a link to its website. For an individual this may be brief information, for instance a reference to their association with the College such as “College William and Mary class of 1988” or “College of William and Mary faculty member.”
  • Collections as such are generally described at a less detailed level (like collection level, maybe series level) than artifacts, photographs, audiovisual items. Justification: Description at item level is needed to make these particular items accessible at all and we also have staff expertise at this point that we should use! Most of those items are either already being grouped into artificial collections.
  • Technical things to consider during the initial accessioning process:
    • Minimal, if any re-boxing and re-foldering is done at this point; later handling will happen according to priority level; just make sure that boxes are clean and hold together, fit on shelf, etc. Formats in immediate danger may be rehoused at this time as well.
    • Labeling the boxes in a clear and consistent fashion will give clear and legible information with a professional look. Standard SCRC label format should always be used. If temporarily hand-written, writing should be in center of box, in pencil (as dark as possible to enhance legibility), so that it can easily be covered by a label. This is also more economical: boxes handled this way can be re-used more readily for other collections, and corrections and changes can be made more easily as well!
  • Box and folder inventories received from donors/originating offices are saved on the SCRC shared drive, a paper copy provided in patron binders. If an inventory was provided, copy and paste into the database at the discretion of staff. This may be done at the series or box level in most cases. In instances when an itemized inventory of folder contents is provided (i.e. all items in a folder are listed), this list could be pasted into the folder level in Archon at the discretion of staff. Inventories from offices for which the files must be reviewed/are restricted would not typically be accessible immediately. If an inventory or good description was provided, staff will copy and paste into the Content Manager module of Archon at discretion of staff. This would not be done at the folder level, but simply pasted into the single description field for a series or box. For an example of this, see the papers of Rene Henry. The first accessions were processed, including rehousing and creating series and a box and folder list, but for the subsequent accessions a brief description only has been added to the finding aid in subsequent series. Collections such as this may or may not be further processed in the future.

to be integrated

a. Accessioning, initial processing and assigning of processing levels – Archivists When considering allocation of resources to implement the new procedures in the most efficient way, we have to keep in mind that collection level description (whether it is for backlog accessions or new ones) needs to be concise and requires sound judgment as well as a certain level of analytical thinking. This is the time when some accessions will experience the only description our time and staffing restraints allow us to give them – at least for quite a while. We will also determine at this point how detailed a collection’s future description is going to be. (Should we decide to assign staff to do some of this work they will need to be specially trained and supervised on an ongoing basis to ensure that our standards are met.)

b. Managing processing priorities for SCRC – APC A standing committee of archivists should be in charge of keeping the combined spreadsheet processing priorities for SCRC.

c. Processing at an assigned level – Archivists; staff, volunteers and students, depending on training If processing in a more detailed way, Archivist should either determine series etc. or approve series suggested by processor, and with the help of the chart give very clear instructions to staff and students as to the level of detail needed and time effort expected.

d. SIRSI and VHP records from Archon - Archivist and specially trained staff Extracting MARC and EAD records from Archon on an ongoing basis. Once the process has been established and is functioning (i.e. multiple records have been added to SIRSI and VHP), we may consider technically savvy students to do some of this work under close supervision.

e. Archon quality control – Archivists and specially trained staff Important to maintain a consistently high level of description. Will need to fix errors and call attention to recurring errors, to ensure best practices are followed, etc.

f. Labeling boxes – Staff Double-check collection information, numbering etc. at this point; if not already in final location, shelve boxes and enter/change location information in Archon.

g. Physical arrangement according to determined series – Students Archivist will give clear instructions as to arrangement within series and will periodically check on student work.

h. Re-Housing (all kinds) – Students Archivist will give clear instructions as to the details and limits of re-housing (box, folder, photos, metal clips, etc.)

i. Transcribing folder listings into Archon – Students Students can perform this task, if folders are clearly labeled (or listing exists already) and no changes are necessary.

j. Re-keying non-searchable PDFs of finding aids – Students Finding aids in PDF format that Archon links to are not searchable at this point.

k. Copying 200 Mss. MsV. into Archon – Students Copying and pasting from description in SIRSI.

l. Adding to selected Artificial Collections - Students Keying-in or copying and pasting from existing files.

Donor Information

  • All paperwork, including invoices, correspondence with donors and dealers, deeds of gift, etc. will be compiled by donor name, 'Purchases--Established Dealer Name,' ‘Purchases--eBay’, ‘Purchases--Miscellaneous’, office of origin (for transfers); for artificial collections, and in some cases collection name (example: ) an second copy (first page only to avoid to much duplication) will be filed under that respective heading. All accessioning files are kept in the filing cabinet in the Archives workroom.
  • If donor shipped collection will send an email within 48 hours of arrival letting them know that it has arrived and that a formal acknowledgment will follow.
  • Letter of acknowledgment sent. Will include Swem Library tangible gift policy if appropriate or not already sent. Will include URL to database record.
  • Will send copies of paperwork or just an email message re: donation to admin and/or dev. as needed..
  • If or when a more detailed inventory of the collection is created in the future, a copy and letter is sent to the donor.

Additions

All additions to existed collections are assigned an accession number and processed as described above. They will be added to the already existing Archon record.

Fields to update and review when entering the addition to the existing Archon record:

  • All date fields
  • Extent
  • Finding aid author
  • Location information
  • Creator
  • Collection description. A note such as this may be appropriate: "Material received after October 2008 (Acc. 2008.123 and 2008.133) is not described in detail as great as the earlier accession described in Series 1 and 2."
  • Restrictions (especially for university offices and papers of faculty and staff)
  • Acquisition information including updated accession numbers, donors, and dates
  • Finding aid information > Processing info. Depending on the size of the collection, how additions are handled, and if ongoing additions are expected a note such as the following may be included: "Processing and finding aid completed by Kate Hill in October 2008. Descriptions of new accessions added by Amy C. Schindler in November and December 2008."

Handling Specific Collections

In general, we do not remove staples and paperclips. We also avoid using plastic clips whenever possible (it has shown to damage paper over time, gets entangled with other pages, adds to bulk of folders,etc.). Instead, and only IF REALLY NECESSARY (e.g. for fragile materials), use thin white paper folders to keep small groups of papers together or separated from surrounding items that might damage them. Gloves should be worn when handling photographs. If boxes are not filled to the degree that folders stand upright, use spacers (makeshift of recycled folders)! ===Personal Papers and Organizational Records

  • Handle according to the processing detail level assigned (see chart). If students are assigned tasks, go over the details outlined in the chart, since those will vary from collection to collection.
  • Folder labeling (pencil only): collection/item title heading in upper left corner and accession or call number right underneath it; item with date in middle of folder top; if more than one folder, folder number in upper right corner.
  • Housing for collections (if required by processing level): if all material clearly letter size and box not shared with other accessions that might be larger size, use letter size folders and upright boxes. In all other cases, use legel folders and upright boxes.
  • Individual Manuscript items that will share a box with other accessions should be housed in legal folders and upright boxes
  • Individual Archives items are housed together in 'small collection' (Amy?)


Artificial Collections

Mss. and UA Artifacts

Items are accessioned individually and added to the respective artifact collection.

Manuscripts Artifact Collection [University Archives Artifact Collection]

  • Accession number assigned.
  • A description and accession information is added to Archon. Each artifact entry in Archon should have the following information.
    • Classification - place the artifact into the appropriate series in Archon (Textiles, Decorative Objects)
    • Object - name and type of artifact. (Charles Center Science Symposium T-Shirt). Enter into Title field in Archon
    • Date - date when the artifact was created. Enter into Date field in Archon. If date is unknown, enter circa XXXX or undated.
    • Description - in this field, include the information below as much as possible.
      • Quantity and type of artifact (One t-shirt)
      • Provenance - Where the item originated from and what it is used for (Charles Center T-Shirt used for Science Symposium)
      • Material the artifact is made of (cotton, nylon, plastic, gold)
      • Size of artifact (dimensions, t-shirt size, etc.)
      • Condition of artifact (poor, fair, good, excellent)
      • Other information (color, information inscribed on object)
      • Accession number
  • Item housed according to directions of staff member in charge of artifact collection.
  • Supporting correspondence, notes, and other documentation filed in donor files.
  • Donor acknowledgment sent.

Mss. and UA Audiovisuals

Single or small numbers of items are accessioned individually as received. A description and accession information is added to Archon.

  • Accession number assigned.
  • An accession of multiple items is added to Archon by a student. (For instance, University Relations transferred 20 boxes of videotapes to the SCRC and each has been added to the database. See http://scrc.swem.wm.edu/index.php?p=collections/controlcard&id=6648.)
  • Each item is added to the Manuscripts or University Archives Audiovisual Collection or other collection as applicable.
  • When entering audiovisual material into Archon, the following information must be in the record.
    • Type of format - DVD, CD, Film, Phonograph, Betacam, VHS, Reel-to-Reel, Cassette Tape.
    • Title of item
    • Date of item
    • Description of the item - events described, name of album, where it was recorded.
    • Other information - album track list, length of audio/video tape, tape speed, production information, etc.
    • Accession number
  • Housing ?? special boxes?
  • Supporting correspondence, notes, and other documentation filed in donor files.
  • Donor acknowledgment sent.

UA Fliers, Posters, and Other Single Items

This material is usually collected from around campus in small quantities, so no accession number is assigned. If the material was received from a known donor, an accession number is assigned.

  • For student organizations, if there is a collection record for the group in Archon, the material is filed with the collection. If the group does not have its own collection, the material is filed in the Student Organizations Collection. If it is a large format poster, AV, or artifact it is filed with the appropriate University Archives collection.
  • For academic departments and offices, if there is a collection record for the department or office in Archon, the material is filed with the collection. If it does not have a record in Archon, one is created. If it is a large format poster, AV, or artifact it is filed with the appropriate University Archives collection.
  • Housing?? oversize cabinets, some boxes?
  • Supporting correspondence, notes, and other documentation filed in donor files.

UA Photographs

Collections are processed as personal papers or organizational records. Photographs from College of William and Mary offices and departments are added to the University Archives Photograph Collection at the discretion of the University Archivist.

  • Accession number assigned; collection number assigned if it is a new collection.
  • Accession information added to record in Archon.
  • Photographs are filed by subject, which is the folder title.
  • The folder title added to the University Archives Photograph Collection.
  • Photographs are at a minimum filed in acid-free folders. If the condition of the photograph, supplies, staffing, or other circumstances allow, the photographs may be sleeved in mylar sleeves.
  • Supporting correspondence, notes, and other documentation filed in donor files.
  • Donor acknowledgment sent when applicable.

News Clippings

News clippings are sent to the University Archives daily. Staff also watch for other relevant clippings, etc. via Google Alerts or other means. Miscellaneous clippings also provided by volunteers, retired staff, miscellaneous alumni sent anonymously via postal mail, etc.

  • Clippings are sorted by volunteer weekly.
  • SCRC staff oversee students adding headings to collection record and file as needed.

Sheet Music Collection, Mss. 1.07

Single or small numbers of items are accessioned individually as received. A description and accession information is added to Archon

  • Accession number assigned.
  • House in sheet music folders and boxes.
  • Supporting correspondence, notes, and other documentation filed in donor files.
  • Donor acknowledgment sent when applicable.
  • For retrospective cataloging from card catalog, re-key information from card into Archon; make sure to enter location for all items. May need relabeling of boxes to identify them as part of the artifical collection and align boxnumbers with existing series.

Ephemeran, Mss. 1.02 and Racial and Ethnic Ephemera, Mss. 1.05

Single or small numbers of items are accessioned individually as received. A description and accession information is added to Archon.

  • Accession number assigned.
  • House in legal size folders and upright boxes.
  • Supporting correspondence, notes, and other documentation filed in donor files.
  • Donor acknowledgment sent when applicable.


Gender and Sexuality Ephemera

Single or small numbers of items are accessioned individually as received. A description and accession information is added to Archon.

  • Accession number assigned.
  • House in legal size folders and upright boxes.
  • Supporting correspondence, notes, and other documentation filed in donor files.
  • Donor acknowledgment sent when applicable.


Office of the President

All tasks completed by SCRC student workers are performed under close staff supervision and reviewed upon completion.

  • There is a small collection for the Office of the President that contains general information, but the majority of records of College of William and Mary presidents are organized by president. Each president's administration is assigned a collection number in the UA 2 range, so for instance the records of Thomas Ashley Graves, Jr. have the collection number UA 2.16. (Note that any president who donates their personal papers is assigned a separate UA 2.xy call number.)
  • All accessions are re-housed by students.
  • Commonly restricted folder headings are noted by students and reviewed by staff
  • Box and folder lists are added to the SCRC database by students. Each accession is a series in the collection's database record.
  • To draft: labeling for potentially and/or restricted boxes; policy; and restricted records use form for researchers.

The same guidelines as above apply to the records of the Office of the Provost, but records of the Provost are not separated by individual provosts and personal papers of provosts are assigned collection numbers from the faculty and staff range.


Blueprints

The bulk of the university's blueprints of buildings and grounds are part of the records of Facilities Management.

The blueprints collection can be divided into two parts: the pre-2005 accessions are in need of rehousing (new boxes, rolls, wrapping in acid-free paper in some cases); while the post-2005 accessions require rehousing as well as description.

University Offices and Departments Temporary Records

  • Box and folder inventories received from originating office are saved in the SCRC shared drive and a paper copy is saved in the UA files.
  • Accession number assigned; collection number assigned if one does not already exist for creating office.
  • Accession number, date, quantity, and location added to existing collection record. A brief description of the records in the accession may be added to the description field, but this is not necessary on an annual basis for standard files from an office such as the Student Health Center. Information about future destruction date is included in Archon fields. After records are destroyed, information is included in database as well. If all records from that office are temporary, record is not visible to the public. If office has both temporary and permanent records in the SCRC, University Archivist will determine if separate Archon records will be created or temporary and permanent information visible to the public.
  • Supporting correspondence, notes, and other documentation filed in donor files and office/department records management file.


to be added somewhere in this manual

a. All collections that are not considered ‘done’ after initial accessioning and minimal description will be considered the ‘process backlog.’ To manage the process backlog the APC will maintain a combined priorities list (brief spreadsheet) for all of the SCRC. For practical purposes, the accessioning archivist will also assign a coded subject heading in Archon (ZZ1-ZZ6) so we can sort by processing level. b. Add accession into Conservation Survey Database, started (and to be continued) by the Presson Fellows, so the database will be complete and kept current once the fellows catch up to 2008.


4. Best Practices for Processing and Description

a. Since a minimal Archon record is all that some collections will have for quite a while (even if they are higher priority and will eventually receive more detailed attention) we will want to do this initial description in a consistent and standardized manner. Following DACS and the Archon User Manual in the SCRC Wiki (http://scrc.swem.wm.edu/wiki/index.php/Archon_User_Manual) when supplying entries for title, dates, physical extent, subject and genre, restrictions, etc. fields and always completing the record with collection location and creator is critical. b. We will assign a staff member to do quality control in Archon - checking all collections added for occasional errors and more importantly recurring mistakes, which can make identification and retrieval of records difficult for staff. The quality control staff member will bring issues in need of consultation or decision to the APC.


Donor Contact

Extracting Bibliographic Records from Archon

  • University Archives thoughts: Remove 540 and 541 fields.
  • Add citation field.
  • Add restriction information if applicable.
  • 856: insert language for finding aid available online.
  • 99: remove all #s and / pre-UA number; so in 00/02/UA 5.023 remove 00/02/.

Extracting EAD/XML Files from Archon