Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category
- Roe, Kathleen D . Arranging & Describing Archives & Manuscripts, Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2005.
Kathleen Roe’s Arranging & Describing Archives & Manuscripts is part of the Society of American Archivists’ Archival Fundamentals Series II. It replaces Frederic Miller’s book of the same title. Both are extremely valuable books, and in my opinion, they complement one another. Miller’s book reads more like a manual. It is very thorough, and I have reviewed it already. Roe’s contribution is an easier read and seems in many places to be carefully, thoughtfully worded. Take, for example, her description of the task of arrangement. “To accomplish [description], the archivist must first arrange records, that is, identify the intellectual pattern existing in the materials, then make sure their physical organization reflects that pattern” (7-8, emphasis mine). I wish someone had described it to me that way when I first began working in archives. That description is nearly perfect and exceptionally graceful. In short, Roe’s work reads more like an introduction to arrangement and description than Miller’s work.
The book begins with an overview of what archives and description (A&D) is and how it relates to other tasks the archivist undertakes like appraisal, preservation, and reference. It then has a chapter on the core concepts for A&D, a chapter that summarizes how A&D practices have developed over time, and a chapter on the practice of A&D The latter chapter makes up the bulk of the book. In the core concepts chapter, Roe does a good job of distinguishing archives from related institutions like libraries and museums. Likewise, she emphasizes strongly that description should begin at the highest level.
Chapter three is essentially a historical overview of A&D practice, especially in the U. S. and Canada. She briefly details the development of standards like MARC, APPM, EAD, DACS, RAD, and ISAD(G). The final chapter examines A&D practice. Although it does not read as manual-like as Miller’s work, Roe provides a solid foundation for thinking through the entire process of A&D, from accessioning to developing finding aids.
The one subject that I wish Roe would have treated more thoroughly is how to implement standardization within one’s collections. I suppose that thorough discussions of implementing EAD and DACS are more appropriate for extended works rather than introductions, but I was hoping for more from this book in that area.
While reading this work, I often found myself thinking, “she just answered a question I have been thinking about for some time.” This entire work contains excellent and well-placed insets with pertinent examples to the subject being discussed. Additionally, Roe offers several appendices that give extended examples and case studies. The case studies prove especially helpful in providing practical advice for dealing with rather difficult arrangement decisions. All in all, I would recommend this book highly, especially to novice archivists.
- Daniels, Maygene and Timothy Walch, editors. A Modern Archives Reader, Washington: National Archives and Records Administration, 1984.
A Modern Archives Reader is an archival science reader that was developed by the National Archives and Records Administration. It includes readings on archival history, records administration, appraisal, acquisition, arrangement, description, reference, public programs, and archival management. The work is now over twenty years old, but many of the articles are valuable, especially the articles written by Posner, Schellenberg, Ham, and Jenkinson. The chapter on arrangement includes two essays. In the first, Ernst Posner outlines developments that have happened in archives since the French Revolution. Posner notes that the French Revolution provided a centralized national archives, put the state in charge of records, and provided for the accessibility of records. Then he traces the development of archives administration, legislation, and the concept of respect des fonds. The second article on history provides Sir Hilary Jenkinson's reflections on being an archivist. Jenkinson stresses that archives come together naturally, are used for unintended reasons, have an important custodial history, and have the potential for helping anyone in the world.
The chapter on appraisal contains an article on appraisal by Schellenberg. In this article, he sets forth the several distinctions between primary and secondary values, and informational and evidential values. Schellenberg sees these distinctions as important to understanding archives. He supplies tests to apply for evidential and informational values. Leonard Rapport also offers an article that in some respects is a reassessment of Schellenberg's ideas. He argues that some accessions should be re-accessioned, and that sometimes this should occur to reduce bulk and to dispose of records that are not worthy of being kept. The acquisitions chapters offer advice on developing a collecting policy, developing collections, performing field work, and deed of gifts.
The chapter on arrangement offers articles by Schellenberg and Oliver Wendell Holmes on the levels of arrangement. While both chapters are detailed, Holmes offers instruction on even boxing, shelving, and labeling files. A chapter on organizing photographic collections also recommends that photographic collections be treated as collections, rather than individual items. It notes that there are (at least at the time the article was written) no standards for cataloging photographic collections. There are also sections dealing with finding aids, inventories, registries, and subject guides.
In the chapter of reference, Mary Jo Pugh contends for indexes within archives in order to provide adequate access points to collections that have a provenance based arrangement. Finally, Gerald Ham treats the processes at work in archival selection in an article entitled, The Archival Edge. He notes that many have criticized archivists for having a slipshod methodology when it comes to selection. Ham himself enquires why archivists document the experience of humanity so poorly. He offers five developments that force archivists to be more active: institutionalization, bulk, missing data, vulnerable records, and technology. For archivists to adjust to these changes and select materials well, Ham suggests that they must change their habits, be committed to developing national guidelines, allocate resources better to collect missing data, and actively engage in documenting culture.
- Ellis, Judith, editor. Keeping Archives, 2nd edition. Port Melbourne: D. W. Thorpe and Society of Australian Archivists, 1993.
I admire things Australian. Crocodile Dundee. Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter. My sister, niece, and brother-in-law. Mel Gibson. Olivia Newton John. Keith Urban. All these are of Australian provenance. Actually, my sister and niece have an American provenance, but they are now dual citizens, and an unbroken custodial history verifies that their citizenship is authentic. Jenkinson would be proud…
Keeping Archives is a product of Australia, and the work was produced in conjunction with the Society of Australian Archivists. It is an archival manual that covers literally every area of archival theory. It is the second best one volume treatment of archives that I have seen, the best being William Maher's The Management of College and University Archives. I will admit, I am partial to Maher because he addresses the context within which I work. His work was the first work on archives that I read, and what I learned from it has served me well. I do wish the SAA would update that volume, but I digress. Like Maher's work, Keeping Archives is now a bit dated. It contains very little treatment about electronic records because in 1993, electronic records were not nearly the concern that they are now. Additionally, it does not treat EAD, Dublin Core, or other newer standards because they did not exist when this volume was published, but you can't blame the authors for not being prescient.
Despite being a product of Australia, it addresses archival theory in a way that is useful to archivists from other nationalities. Keeping Archives is unabashedly Jenkisonian in its approach to archives and recommends focusing on record series rather than record groups. Despite this fact, the chapter on appraisal and disposal recognizes a distinction between evidential and informational values in records, a distinction that is usually associated with Schellenberg's theories.
In my opinion, the most valuable contribution that this manual makes is its recommendations for constructing the various types of forms and paperwork that an archives needs in order to document its activities. Towards the end of nearly every chapter, the authors provide recommendations, requirements, and examples for constructing these types of documentation. Keeping Archives also has a number of case studies related to archival tasks such as arrangement and description. The book also includes a number of extremely helpful tables. For example, the chapter on finding aids describes the various types of finding aids that are available to archivists. If nothing else, these types of tables are valuable for training student workers about the correct terminology for the various types of finding aids that they create on a regular basis.
Another strength of the book is the chapter on getting organized. Basically, this chapter is a short treatment on managing archival repositories. The author addresses five broad areas that archivists need to manage: yourself, information needed, people, financial resources, and facilities. Particularly helpful are the author's suggestions for organizing yourself. She supplies information that is useful for helping archivists managing everything from time to projects to diet. I would recommend any archivist to at least inter-library loan Keeping Archives, if for no other reason than to read this short chapter on management. Keeping Archives is an extremely valuable book, and new archivists should probably purchase this book as soon as they consume Elizabeth Yakel's Starting an Archives and David Carmicheal's Organizing Archival Records.
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2004.
Sitting down to read Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS) falls somewhere between reading Chicago Manual of Style and stereo instructions on the enjoyment level (despite its length, I prefer to read the former.) DACS is a replacement standard for the Society of American Archivists' Archives, Personal Papers, and Manuscripts. DACS was designed to be a descriptive standard that can be used within various types of systems for recording descriptive data, and the authors of DACS go to great lengths to stress the standard's independence from the systems that output descriptions. An archivist can use DACS within EAD, MARC 21, or various in-house systems for storing data about collections. The book has three sections that treat how to describe materials, creators, and names. DACS avoids the problem of not providing more than five levels of arrangement and description by requiring that "an information system employ some means of linking ogether the various levels of description." The standard does not, however, provide instructions for description at the item level or lower. DACS notes that the variety of types of materials prevents providing rules for description at that level.
DACS provides a brief overview of the principles that undergird it. These principles highlight issues such as the uniqueness of archival materials, respect des fonds, the difference between arrangement and description, the nature of description, and the necessity of describing the creators of archival materials. As stated above, DACS strives to be independent of any type of access tool. DACS does encourage, however, the creation of access points within whatever tool the archivist uses to store the data. In other words, by supplying archivists with a standard way of presenting necessary descriptive data such as names, places, subjects, documentary forms, occupations, and functions, DACS creates access points for finding resources in much the same way that judicious use of the Library of Congress Subject Headings creates access points for finding books.
The code is structured in such a way as to prevent redundancy and to make sure that the content of each element is mutually exclusive. Because output standards vary, DACS does not require a specific order for elements that one includes in a description. One helpful provision that DACS makes is that it often suggests where information to supply for a certain element can be contained. For example, it may say something like, "Take the information from other descriptions of archival materials," or "Derive the information from the materials themselves and repository policy." These locations are not always intuitive when one is processing collections. DACS also provides other types of useful information like how to determine what the appropriate title for a collection is. Finally, DACS is also helpful because it allows for a good deal of leaway in how one describes records. DACS recognizes that collections, materials, funds, practices, and capabilities vary greatly from institution to institution. Additionally, archivists differ in the way they describe collections. Rather than supplying a wooden standard that falls into disuse, DACS offers archivists a tool that can be appropriated in developing in-house description policies that in turn bring consistency to descriptive practices.
- Kurtz, Michael J. Managing Archival & Manuscript Repositories, Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2004.
The more I read the second edition of the SAA's Archival Fundamentals Series, the more I like it. The volumes of the second series that I have read so far really seem to outshine the older volumes I have seen. The same can be said of Kurtz's work, Managing Archival & Manuscript Repositories. This is a phenomenal monograph that reflects some of the recent shifts that have occurred in management and leadership theories. Not only that, but it's readable, much like Frank Boles's Selecting and Appraising Archives and Manuscripts.
Kurtz begins the work by noting that management should be balanced. Having either too much or too little management in any organization is a bad thing. He also notes that management is largely an American idea. Much management theory is based upon the work of Fayol, who believed that management consisted of planning, organizing, budgeting, directing, and controlling. Kurtz says that management is much more complex now, because of the ways in which relationships work within organizations now. At earlier times, a top down management scheme was often used. Modern organizations often have a less heirarchical structure, and relationships are now more democratic. However, management largely consists of the same basic ideas in any organization or management position. Kurtz points out that management can be difficult for archivists because they are trained to be archivists. He contends that there are several tools that should be in place to effectively manage an archives: a good file system, a follow up system, and a good time management system.
Kurtz believes that leadership is needed even in small archive. Good leadership involves vision, that is, anticipating possible results well ahead of their occurring. Also, leadership involves selling others on the vision of the archives. Good leaders should understand their own tendencies, strengths and weaknesses, and they should use various assesment tools, such as the Myers-Briggs test, to point those out. They should also mentor others as they have opportunity.
Kurtz discusses the tendencies of modern organizations to be complex. As stated above, organizations now are less hierarchical and more democratic. This situation means that archivists usually have different relationships to their subordinates now. The archivist should be a coach, mentor, and builder. Some of his main tasks are to interact, connect, and cooperate with others in order to achieve the goals of the archives.
Not only do archivists help foster relationships with other individuals inside and outside their organization, they also seek to understand the organizational context in which they work in order to foster relationships that will help spawn effective results. They should seek to develop and obtain approval for a policy statement that accurately reflects their goals and responsibilities. Their mandate should be from the highest authority possible within the organization within which they work. They should adopt a collaborative team model for their deparmental work, and they should cooperate with other departments at an institutional level.
Kurtz addresses planning by noting that this is often considered tedious work, but that it is necessary. He says that good planning takes the larger institution into mind. The archivist considers not only the goal of the archives, but also the goals of the parent institution. Careful planning should be charted in an organizational planning structure that accounts for the number of worker hours available and reasonable estimates about what should be done during those available times. He also notes that performance should be measured on departmental, individual, and overall levels to see howeffective the planning program is.
A new addition to this edition of the book is the chapter on project management. Kurtz says that any project should have some leader, even if the leadership model is not top down. The leader or manager chosen for the project should probably have some stake in the project. This person will spend time gathering information to share with the others about the project. Those working on projects should be competent, and communication within the group is a must. Projects have a life cycle that consists of four stages: conception, definitions, acquisition, and operation. This particular chapter provides several helpful workflows for taking up projects. Kurtz notes that successful projects depend on five factors being in place: a mandate, support and resources, team leadership and facilitation, communication, and clear goals.
Kurtz offers chapters that specifically address how one should manage information technologies, human resources, communication, facilities, finances, fund raising, and public relations. In each of these chapters, he supplies detailed information about how to make good decisions regarding these areas. Although each of these chapters has its own merits, I found the chapter on facilities to be extremely helpful. Kurtz supplies various tools that aid in development. For example, he supplies a chart that helps one determine how much space should be added when an archives is undergoing reconstruction. These types of practical information make me want to keep this book at arms reach. In fact, I wish I had acquired it about a year ago.
- Pugh, Mary Jo. Providing Reference Services for Archives and Manuscripts, Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2005.
Mary Jo Pugh's Providing Reference Services for Archives and Manuscripts is a major revision of her 1992 work by the same title. Pugh begins this work by noting that archives and reference services in archives are changing at a substantial rate because of communications changes that are occurring in the world. Electronic formats, the expectation for instant information, and increased computing power all raise the bar for archivists. Pugh notes that all of these things necessitate the reworking of her earlier book.
Pugh notes that a shift in the archival profession has taken place in which archivists are now active promoters of archives rather than just passive collectors. She points out that providing access has three elements: intellectual, physical, and legal. Likewise, reference services involve intellectual, human, and administrative elements that include research, personal relations, promotion of materials, and ethics.
Pugh describes Schellenberg's distinctions in primary and secondary uses and evidential, informational, and intrinsic value, noting that Schellenberg overstated the distinction between records and archives by overemphasizing the exhaustion of primary values that he believed characterized archives. She says that archivists should strive to understand the various types of users of archival materials in order to help them find what they need. She suggests that besides just contemplating the needs of their various types of users, archivists should also try to understand how exactly most users seek to obtain information. In short, today, many researchers look for the simplest way they can find the information they need. Now, more than ever, the reference role of the archivist comes into play.
The reference role of the archivist comes into play through the archivist providing intellectual access to collections through the use of finding aids and careful processing. Being careful to do these well provides a context for understanding records. Pugh's discussion of provenance and the levels of arrangement are probably some the clearest that I have seen. The reference role of the archivist also comes into play through the reference interview process. Archivists need to become proficient in ferreting out the types of informations that their patrons need through using a careful interview process. They must also become more proficient in using the various types of electronic communication to provide reference services that will meet the needs of remote patrons. Additionally, they should develop guidelines for how archivists deal with patrons of all types.
Archivists strive to provide access to materials, but doing so is not attended without difficulties. Archivists have to balance issues of privacy, confidentiality, right to know, and equality of access on a daily basis. Archival policies should be developed that seek to create as much access as possible in as even and equal a manner as possible while abiding by the law. Pugh not only discusses access policies, but she also discusses how exactly to offer physical access to the materials. She discusses issues such as preservation, security, and administration of a research room. Likewise, she provides information about copyright, microfilm, loaning materials, and setting policies for photocopying. Finally, Pugh discusses the different models of reference services available to archives, noting that they can be arranged as a curatorial organization (processing and specialized reference), a rotating organization (everyone does reference), or a functional organization (reference is separate from processing). She then describes how archivists can measure the perfomance of reference services within their organizations. Pugh concludes the work with a detailed bibliographic essay that touches on nearly every of archival science.
“Organizing Archival Records: A Practical Method of Arrangement and Description for Small Archives,” Book Review
- Carmicheal, David W. Organizing Archival Records: A Practical Method of Arrangement and Description for Small Archives, 2nd ed. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 2004.
David Carmicheal's Organizing Archival Records is one of the best guides available for aiding archivists of small institutions in processing their collections. The book is simple, short, and practical. Carmichael not only describes the process for arranging and describing collections in this work, he also provides practical helps such as case studies and exercises that flesh out exactly what he is describing. Additionally, the book contains a CD-ROM that includes a database system that a small archives can use to manage its collections. This book provides a solid basis for training new workers in archives on how to process collections, and because of its brevity and lack of technical jargon, even a new worker should be able to read it within the span of an afternoon. If a new archivist of a small collection consumes this book and Yakel's Starting an Archives, he or she will be well prepared to set up and run their archives in an acceptable fashion.
Carmichael divides the book into three sections that deal with the purpose of organization, the levels of organization, and the steps of organization. In short, Carmichael says that the purpose of organizing collections within an archives is to help researchers find the answers to their questions. He notes that archival materials cannot be arranged and described in the same way as books because they were not created like books, they need more security than books, they are generally more complex in subject matter than books. Thus, organization for archives is much more different than it is for books, although the purpose for organizing both types of materials is similar.
Carmichael divides the levels of arrangement into four categories: record group, series, file unit, and item. He adequately describes each category, and he offers fairly detailed instructions for how to determine the boundaries of series within a collection. He notes that archivists typically discover series within a collection rather than creating them. He stresses the need for distinguishing between archives and manuscript collections. For him, the main distinction between the two lies in who created the materials. If an institution produced the records, then they are archives. If they were papers created or accumulated by an individual, they are manuscripts. While this distinction is a bit simplistic, Carmicheal's point works extremely well in the type of small archives one might find at a church or a historical society. He also briefly explains the basic steps of accessioning materials.
Carmichael divides archival processing into twelve basic steps that one could adjust to fit almost any small archival institution. The steps are well thought out, and provide a thorough workflow for processing. The processing workflow begins with assigning a number to the collection. After this, the archivist researchers the collection and complementary materials to discover such things as who created the collection, when it was created, and what types of materials it contains, and what subjects it addresses. The archivist uses this information to name the collection and to produce initial paperwork that describes the collection in a basic manner. The archivist progressively works through the collection to a greater and greated degree, determining what series are in the collection and how the files are organized. At the end of the process Carmichael describes, the archivist has fully processed the collection, created a brief usable finding aid, labeled and shelved the collection, and created a catalog entry.
- Ritzenthaler, Mary Lynn. Preserving Archives and Manuscripts, Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 1993.
Preserving Archives and Manuscripts details how preservation should take place in an archives or manuscript repeository. The term preservation generally denotes the "activities and functions designed to provide a suitable and safe environment that enhances the usable life of colletions." In order for an institution to implement a preservation program, it generally needs to recognize that preservation needs to take place. The institution should then set initial goals and a program policy for the program. Surveys of the repository must take place on the institutional and collection levels. These surveys allow for the archives to set its priorities and make decisions about how it can most effectively do its work. A budget for preservation should represent at least ten percent of total archives expenses in a year.
The materials stored in archives come in a wide variety of formats. An archivist needs to have a general understanding of how to preserve various types of paper, inks, skins, textiles, and photographic materials. Likewise, archivists must understand the types of adhesives used on these materials, including the ways in which they can be used and the damage they can cause to collections. Ritzenthaler addresses all of these issues in her third chapter. In particular, her discussions of papers and adhesives were especially detailed and helpful.
Ritzenthaler notes that the main causes of deterioration for records are usually temperature, relative humidity, light, biological agents, abuse, and disasters. The best way to prevent damage from these causes is to monitor and evaluate the conditions within the archives, and to have a good HVAC system. She points out that a ten degree reduction in temperature can double the life span of paper, while a ten degree increase will cut its life in half. Likewise, relative humidity should be well regulated.
She notes that the best conditions would be 40-65 degrees Farenheit, but condtions of 70 degrees and a relative humidity of 45%, plus or minus 2 degrees and 2 percentage points, are acceptable for an archives. She suggests that an archives have at a minimum a thermometer and a hygrometer. However, she recommends that archives purchase a hygrothermograph and a psychometer to track conditions over long periods of time. To protect materials from light, archives should have shades or UV filters over all windows and flourescent lights. Lights should be cut off when they are not needed. An acceptable level of light in reading room areas ranges from 30 to 60 footcandles.
Concerning handling, Ritzenthaler basically urges using common sense. She recommends the use of gloves, fully supporting all types of materials that are being handled, using trucks and multiple people to transfer materials, avoiding materials like tape, and handling photographic and magnetic media by their edges.
Ritzenthaler offers advice on storing and handling materials. She stresses that handling and storage decisions should be based upon what best preserves materials in light of their format and condition. She describes the various types of shelving and furniture that is available for use in archives. She also describes the methods and products one should use to store various tupes of record formats. Her chapter on preservation and administration supplies a brief guide for administering records throughout the entirety of their lifespan. She notes various threats to preservation that occur during this time. She also discusses preservation solutions like photocopying and microfilm, and points out best practices for using both.
In my opinion, the most useful chapter in the book is the final chapter, which addresses conservation. Here, Ritzenthaler discusses in great detail the various conservation options, such as deacidification and paper strengthening, that archivists have at their disposal. Equally helpful, though, are her discussions about making conservation decisions. She supplies information about determining when conservation treatment is needed, and she provides a philosophy for making informed decisions about good conservation practices.
- Miller, Fredric M. Arranging and Describing Archives and Manuscripts, Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 1990.
Fredric Miller's Arranging and Describing Archives and Manuscripts is a manual for explaining archival processing. Miller intended the manual to describe processing rather than prescribe policies and practices for individual repositories. He intended it to be useful for novices. He begins the manual by noting that archives are not libraries, and that the two types of institutions differ in several ways. The physical makeup of archives generally consists of records rather than books. Records are created gradually, in a rather unintentional manner (compared to books), and have no common classification scheme. Although there are parallels between an archivist's tools of arrangement and description and a librarian's tools of arrangement and description, the two differ fundamentally. Archivists arrange records according to provenance (external order according to creator) and strive to maintain the original order (internal order) of the records.
In processing, archivists must determine the origins and structure of records. They must understand what types of activities the records document, determine the types of informational content they contain, assess their physical characteristics, and explain their relationship to other records in the repositiory.
Although this manual covers both archives and manuscripts, one must understand that there are fundamental differences between these two. Records generally come from one source, while manuscripts come from many sources. A manuscript collection contains artificial collections and individual documents. Archives are generally described on a collection level, while manuscripts are not. Archives are generally larger in volume than manuscript collections. Archives are usually self indexing according to provenance, whereas many manuscript collections are not. There are similarities, however. Both types of repositories contain some records, have common types of usage, and need integrated systems.
Miller contends that four principles govern processing: provenance, original order, collection description, and levels of control. Miller provides a helpful timeline of the creation of these principles and their application to archives and manuscripts. He notes that the concept of levels of control is an American contribution to archival science. When Miller speaks of levels of control, he is referring to the concept, popularized by Oliver Wendell Holmes, that records can be devided into several levels for description. Generally, the levels are called record group, series, files, and folders. He also points out that the concept of provenance is generally identified with the record creator. This concept is helpful because it discourages archivists from using arbitrary subject arrangements, and it makes organization of records easier.
Miller discusses accessioning by pointing out that it often begins by correctly identifying the provenance of records. The archivist should be involved in the boxing and labeling of records prior to their being transported to an archives. The archivist is responsible for ensuring the integrity of records in their travel. He or she should use transfer forms and accession forms to document this process. The archvist should prepare a general description of contents and list any separated materials on a separation sheet. The archivist should also examine the contents for record groups and series, weeding, restrictions, and odd or difficult to preserve formats. A preliminary listing, which often consists of a box listing, should be prepared. This step is often more difficult for manuscripts than archives.
Miller urges that in establishing priorities for how to proceed in arranging and describing collections, the archivist should consider the "mission, resources, and clientele of the repository." The archivist should also assess the facilities to make sure that they are adequate for processing collections. Additionally, he or she should take the lead in administering processing by setting forth a plan for the processing of set of records or manuscripts that the staff processes. Miller discusses the various levels of control one uses in arranging records within a repository. He notes that there are very real differences between arrangement by provenance and by filing structure. The former should represent the intellectual arrangement of records, while the latter often represents the physical arrangement of records. He notes that repositories often have physical divisions of records into such categories as archives and manuscripts. Withing each of these categories, the archivist intellectually arranges the records according to provenance, physically arranges the records according to the filing structure (often developing lists of functional records series to assist in this task), and arranges the physical file units in accordance with original order.
Miller concludes his work by discussing the various types of information, tools, and standards that are used to create properly describe archival collections. These sections are probably the most dated sections of the book, because the advent of standards such as DACS and EAD has somewhat supplanted discussions of APPM and USMARC AMC. This is probably the reason that the SAA replaced Miller's book, as good as it is, with Kathleen Roe's work of the same title.
- Finch, Elsie Freeman. Advocating Archives: An Introduction to Public Relations for Archivists, Metuchen, NJ: The Society of American Archivists and Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1994.
Advocating Archives is a collection of essays that describes public relations in archives from a variety of perspectives. It addresses issues such as the relationship between patrons and archivists, raising funds, celebrating significant events, and marketing. The book is well developed and would be beneficial to consult, particularly in an occasional nature to address a specific problem or issue related to public relations. It also offers a few public relations case studies and several appendices that assist in planning for a public relations program for an archives.
The first chapter, "Talking to the Angel," addresses the subject of building a public relations program. The authors look at five elements of service that define an archivist's relationship to the public. These five elements are, "the archivist's professional stance, the physical and psychological environments archivists provide the resarcher, the nature of records as the public views them, and what research tells us about the users of records" This chapter provides a foundation that archivists can use to shape the public's perception of them and their duties.
In "Money Talk," Judy Hohmann points out that many archivists ignore the vast resource of private sector money that could underwrite their efforts. Instead they generally look to sources of public funding through grants. Hohmann points out that the private sector funneled to educational institutions "a total of $12.41 billion in contributions in 1990." In this chapter, she discusses how to solicit these types of funds from corporations, foundations, and individuals.
The third chapter, "In Print, On Air," addresses how archivists should approach using the press to inform partrons about significant events in the archives. The author provides instructions for contacting newspapers and television news channels, meeting with the media, holding press conferences, and drawing attention to your collections. In general, archivists should broadcast their information locally rather than nationally.
Philip Mooney's essay, "Modest Proposals," addresses the ways in which archives can gain publicity for their collections by using marketing concepts. Mooney says that four types of marketing tools can be used for archives: publications, exhibitions, audiovisual productions, and public relations activities. He provides suggestions on how to develop brochures and guides, where to place exhibitions, and when and how to use audiovisual productions. His most helpful suggestions were in his public relations section, where he stressed the need for developing positive relationships with reporters to help promote collections.
The fifth chapter addresses the subject of planning for public programs like anniversaries. The author, Timothy Ericson, argues that participating in these events is important because it gives archivists a better public image, it allows them to demonstrate the value of archives, and it offers them a chance to educate patrons. He humorously says that the archivist's first law of outreach is, "Human beings are unable to resist celebrating any anniversary divisible by twenty-five." Ericson believes that archivists must anticipate these events, investigate what focus the institution desires to emphasize in them, use outside help in planning, carefully schedule how they participate, and evaluate the successes and failures of the event after its conclusion. The diagrams he includes for planning events are very helpful.
Chapter six addresses how to make use of volunteer workers and how to set up an maintain a "friends of the archives" group. Many of the suggestions for interviewing, educating, and planning for volunteers are applicable to managing archives in general.
The final chapter supplies tips for troubleshooting public relations issues in archives. The authors of the article contend that many probelms can be avoided if archivists assess their physical plant, their workers, their patrons, their relationship to the media, and the impact of special events. By thinking carefully through these issues, archivists are able to put provisions in place that will minimize the impact that any of these things can have upon public perceptions of their archives. If negative situations do arise, the authors recommend that archivists be honest with the press, supply a press release, and speak of the situation as positively as possible. For example, if records are destroyed through faulty piping, the authors point out that the archivist can focus on the records that were saved rather than the records that were destroyed or the faulty physical plant. The archivist can admit that damage was done, but the positive spin on the situation mitigates some of the negative publicity the situation can present. Finally, the archivist should encourage the press to follow up on these types of situations to show how they find resolution. The authors contend that the best way to troubleshoot these situations is through adequate planning in advance.