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 Archon database 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 accession number, brief title, and note if new accession is an addition to an existing accession. Assign within 7 days of receipt unless special circumstances, etc. apply. University Archives Collection Numbers are 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 the first addition if it is a contemporary collection. We may decide on a case by case basis to go back and combine multiple records in the future.
  • We will assign a staff member to do quality control in Archon. This will include reviewing all new and legacy collections for 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.

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 database 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) key subject headings
    • call and accession numbers (if different)
    • restrictions
    • acquisition information (including method,as specific a date as possible, and the source)
    • physical location
    • preferred citation
    • finding aid information (Rules used, publication date, pub note, language written in)
  • A brief creator record should be created in the database as necessary. For a university office or department 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 occupation, place of residence, association with the College (such as “College William and Mary class of 1988” or “College of William and Mary faculty member”), etc.
  • Collections as such are generally described at a less detailed level (like collection level, maybe series level) than artifacts, photographs, audiovisuals, and similar 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 or expect to be in the future.
  • This 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 for further information.
  • 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.) 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 for all SCRC collections. For practical purposes, the accessioning archivist will also assign a coded subject heading in Archon (ZZ1-ZZ6) so we can sort by processing level.
  • After the Archon entry has been completed and detail level determined, add the accession to the Conservation Survey Database, started (and to be continued) by the Presson Fellows. This will allow the database to be complete and kept current once the fellows catch up to 2008.
  • A standing SCRC committee, the Accessioning and Processing Committee (APC), will be in charge of maintaining and reviewing processing priorities for all collections in the SCRC.
  • The following 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 or conservation of material donated with the collection
    • Collection size
  • 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 description at the discretion of staff. Inventories from offices for which the files must be reviewed/are restricted would not typically be accessible immediately as they will go through a review process and/or be restricted.

Donor Contact

  • Consult the Donor Information section of this guide for detailed instructions in handling paperwork and communication with donors related to accessioning and processing.
  • All paperwork, including invoices, correspondence with donors and dealers, deeds of gift, etc. will be compiled by: donor name if an individual or organization; 'Purchases--Established Dealer Name,' ‘Purchases--eBay’, ‘Purchases--Miscellaneous’; office of origin (for transfers); for artificial collections, and in some cases personal papers or organizational records, collection name (example: an individual donates an item that is added to the University Archives Artifact Collection) with a second copy (first page only to avoid too much duplication) will be filed in the respective folder with a see also note. All accessioning files are kept in a filing cabinet in the Archives workroom.

Additions

All additions to existing collections are assigned their own 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:

  • Collection Identifier field: add new number after existing number, separated by a comma
  • 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.
  • Under 'Finding aid information' update 'Processing info.' Depending on the size of the collection, how additions are handled, and if ongoing additions are expected a note such as one of the following may be included:
    • "Steven Bookman created the description for Acc. 2008.072 in 2008."
    • "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."

Folder headings for additions should have the original collection name and underneath it the accession number for the respective addition; on the first folder of the addition, also add:'Additon to Acc. xyz'. See the sample folder headings illustrations available on the shared drive.

If feasable, we will try and shelve the original collection and its additions together, but in many cases this will not be possible and the location entries will be used to pull all parts of collections together.

Processing of Collections

Rehousing

Rehousing should always be done under the direction of the archivists and according to the processing level that was assigned to the collection. (Some collections may be both reboxed and refoldered, others may only be reboxed, and then again others may not be rehoused at all.)

  • All material will be rehoused according to applicable best practices and the best available resources and skills of the SCRC.
  • Collections should be rehoused in folders and boxes appropriate to their size, condition, etc. Rehousing material in a folder or other holder that is too large has the potential to cause damage just as rehousing material in a folder or other container that is too small might. It is generally preferable to rehouse a collection using boxes and folders that are either all letter or legal-sized for ease of arrangement and to avoid confusion. While this may not always be possible or necessary, it is a goal.
  • In general, we do not remove staples and paperclips from items. We also avoid using plastic clips whenever possible to "replace" staples or other fasteners that have been removed (plastic clips have been shown to damage paper over time, become entangled with other pages, add to the 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.
  • If boxes are not filled to the degree that folders stand upright, always use spacers (including makeshift spacers of rolled, recycled acid-free folders)!
  • Accession numbers should be written in pencil, in an inconspicuous interior page of collections that are composed of individual volumes such as diaries, ledgers, etc.
  • Gloves should be worn when handling photographs and certain artifact formats.
  • When assigned, photographs will be housed in mylar sleeves or separated with interleaving paper. Not all photographs will be rehoused immediately.
  • When assigned and as supplies and storage capacity permits, audiovisual formats may be rehoused in archival cases. As with all other formats, this will be done as prioritized.
  • Artifacts are rehoused according to best practices balanced with the resources and skills of the SCRC. Ideal storage conditions are always the goal.

Labeling of Folders and Boxes

Folders

  • Folder headings as well should be composed in a consistent fashion throughout all SCRC collections and contain the standard elements of: Collection name and Acc. and/or call number in the left corner of the folder; material (folder title) and date range contained in the folder in the middle of the folder; and, if applicable, box and folder numbers in the right corner.
  • This information should be written in pencil and for the most commonly used letter and legal size folders it should run on the top back of the folder from left to right.
  • Accessions that are part of artificial collections are described as 'items' in Archon. In that case also add the item number to the folder.
  • Please see examples of folder headings that are posted in the work rooms.

Boxes

  • Our goal is to label boxes in a standardized, clear and consistent fashion. Henceforth, labels should be printed, which increases legibility and looks more professional. The label template is stored in 'Labels' in the 'Accessioning and Processing' folder on the O drive. Temporarily hand-written box headings should be written in the center of box (under the handle on records center cartons, on the short side of gray boxes) and in pencil (as dark as possible to enhance legibility) to allow this writing to be easily covered by a label later on. Boxes handled this way can be re-used more readily for other collections, and corrections and changes can be made more easily as well!
  • A staff member will be assigned to do the labeling and once that is completed the shelving, at which point the collection location will be updated in Archon. Labeling and relocating collections to the storage area will most likely occur once per week.
  • Smaller quantities of items or boxes can be stored in the Archives workroom on 2 while they wait for labeling. Larger quantities should be shelved in the appropriate area in the stacks area. In the case of larger collections shelved before labels are made, make sure to communicate with staff assigned to labeling that you have materials in the stacks also in need of labels.

Processing at an assigned level

If processing in a more detailed manner is determined to be necessary, the member of the APC assigning and supervising processing should either determine the series and subseries or approve the series and subseries suggested by the processor. With the help of the Processing Levels chart, the APC members will give very clear instructions to staff, students, or volunteers as to the level of detail needed, type of rehousing and conservation required, and the time and effort expected in the processing of the collection.

Handling of Specific Collections

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 one of the University Archives Small Collections boxes located in the locked section or main storage area. These boxes come in different sizes and the appropriately sized box should be selected for all items.

Artificial Collections

Mss. and UA Artifacts

Items are accessioned individually and added to the Manuscripts Artifact Collection or the [University Archives Artifact Collection]. The following steps should be followed for each item.

  • 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 the collection (Textiles, Decorative Objects, etc.).
    • Object - name and type of artifact. Enter into Title field. Example: Charles Center Science Symposium T-Shirt.
    • Date - date when the artifact was created. If date is unknown, enter a circa date or use "undated".
    • Description - in this field, include the following information or as much as known:
      • Quantity and type of artifact. Example: One t-shirt.
      • Provenance - Where the item originated from and what it was used for. Example: Charles Center T-Shirt used for Science Symposium.
      • Material the artifact is made of. Example: cotton, nylon, plastic, gold, etc.
      • Size of artifact. Example: dimensions in inches, t-shirt size, etc.
      • Condition of artifact. Example: poor, fair, good, excellent.
      • Other information. Example: color, information inscribed on object, etc.
      • Accession number.
  • The item is rehoused according to directions of staff member in charge of artifact collections. University Archives Artifacts to be rehoused should be stored on shelves _____. Manuscripts Collections Artifacts to be rehoused should be stored on shelves ____.

Mss. and UA Audiovisuals

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

  • An accession of multiple items may be added to Archon by a student. For instance, a university office transferred 20 boxes of videotapes to the SCRC and each item is individually added to the database.
  • Items are added to the Manuscripts or University Archives Audiovisual Collection or other collection as applicable.
  • When adding audiovisual material to Archon, the following information must be in the record:
    • Classification - place the item into the appropriate series and subseries by format. Example: Audiotapes, Reel-to-Reel, etc.
    • Title of item - Title of the item is added to the title field. Example: album title, show title, descriptive title, etc.
    • Date of item - If date is unknown, enter a circa date or use "undated".
    • Description of the item - in this field, include the following information or as much as known:
      • Quantity - How many of the item are there. Example: Six videotapes.
      • Provenance - Where the item came from and what it was used for. Example: DoubleTake Concert at the Sadler Center.
      • Other information
        • Album track list
        • Length of recording
        • Tape speed
        • Production information
      • Accession number.
  • All items are rehoused in archival containers. Special cases, boxes, cabinets, etc. may be needed for specific formats.

University Fliers, Posters, and Other Single Items

Fliers, posters, publications, and other similar single item material are 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.

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.

  • An accession number is assigned to all new material with a collection number assigned if it is determined that the material will form a new collection distinct from the University Archives Photograph Collection.
  • All accession information is added to the record in Archon.
  • Photographs are filed by subject headings, which are also the folder title.
  • The folder title is added to the University Archives Photograph Collection finding aid if it is not already in the database.
  • 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 rehoused in mylar sleeves upon receipt.

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. Clippings are also received from other sources on an occasional basis.

  • Clippings are sorted by a volunteer weekly.
  • SCRC staff oversee students adding headings to collection record and filing the clippings in the University Archives Subject File or Faculty-Alumni File Collection as needed.

Sheet Music Collection, Mss. 1.07

Single or small numbers of items are accessioned individually as received and added to the collection record as outlined below.

  • Accession number assigned.
  • Donor acknowledgment sent when applicable.
  • Description and accession information is added to the existing collection in Archon, where each accession is described as 'item.'
  • When adding to Archon record, make adjustment to dates, if necessary, and update extent, location, subject and genre, acquisition, finding aid and other pertinent information as appropriate.
  • House in sheet music folders and boxes.
  • Supporting correspondence, notes, and other documentation are filed in donor files both under donor and also under 'Sheet Music Collection' (first pages suffices for second copy).

Ephemera Collection, Mss. 1.02, Racial and Ethnic Ephemera Collection, Mss. 1.05, and Gender and Sexuality Ephemera Collection, Mss. 1.08

Single or small numbers of items are accessioned individually as received and added to Collection Archon record as outlined below.

  • Accession number assigned.
  • Donor acknowledgment sent when applicable.
  • Description and accession information is added to the existing collection in Archon, where each accession is described as 'item.'
  • When adding to Archon record, make adjustment to dates, if necessary, and update extent, location, subject and genre, acquisition, finding aid and other pertinent information as appropriate.
  • House in legal size folders and upright boxes.
  • Supporting correspondence, notes, and other documentation are filed in donor files both under donor and also under the respective artificial collection's name (first pages suffices for second copy).

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 individual administrations. 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 some of which 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. This project will be further enumerated in the near future.

  • Accession number assigned.
  • A description and accession information is added to Archon.
    • Title of item - Title of the blueprint is added to the title field.
    • Date of item - If date is unknown, enter a circa date or use "undated".
    • Description of the item - in this field, include the following information or as much as known:
      • Quantity - The number of sheets
      • Provenance - Where the item came from and what it was used for.

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.
  • Destruction date determined along with appropriate General Schedule and Series numbers. This information is tracked and filed in a document in the Records Management document on the shared drive.
  • 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.

Donor Information

  • All paperwork, including invoices, correspondence with donors and dealers, deeds of gift, etc. will be compiled by: donor name if an individual or organization; 'Purchases--Established Dealer Name,' ‘Purchases--eBay’, ‘Purchases--Miscellaneous’; office of origin (for transfers); for artificial collections, and in some cases personal papers or organizational records, collection name (example: an individual donates an item that is added to the University Archives Artifact Collection) with a second copy (first page only to avoid too much duplication) will be filed in the respective folder with a see also note. All accessioning files are kept in a filing cabinet in the Archives workroom.
  • If a donor ships a collection, the Archivist will send an email within 48 hours of arrival letting them know that it has arrived and that a formal acknowledgment will follow.
  • The letter of acknowledgment sent to donors will include the Swem Library tangible gift policy if appropriate or not already sent. It will also include the URL to database record.
  • Archivist will send copies of letters of acknowledgment to SCRC Director.
    • If sending via email, archivist must cc SCRC Director, Administration, and Library Development.
    • If sending via paper copy, archivist must give two copies to SCRC Director, who will then pass them on to Administration and Library Development.
  • If or when a detailed inventory of the collection is created in the future, a letter (paper or email) and copy or link to database is sent to the donor.

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