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Something for Everything: Thoughts on Archival Description at Princeton. Dan Santamaria PACSCL: Something New for Something Old Conference December 4, 2008. Project Context. Inexpensive and relatively non-labor intensive once procedures are in place

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something for everything thoughts on archival description at princeton

Something for Everything: Thoughts on Archival Description at Princeton

Dan Santamaria

PACSCL:

Something New for Something Old Conference

December 4, 2008

project context
Project Context
  • Inexpensive and relatively non-labor intensive once procedures are in place
    • Essentially two full-time staff -- one professional, one support staff
    • Cataloging completed in about 3 months by support staff member
institutional context
Institutional Context
  • Princeton University established 1746
  • Princeton University Archives established 1959
  • Prior to 1990s access to University Archives was limited and arbitrary (much more attention given to public policy collections also held at Mudd).
  • Number of finding aids in 1990: 0
  • By 2005, 2/3 of University Archives lacked descriptive records of any kind
institutional context4
Institutional context
  • Stated goals
    • Gain acceptable level of intellectual control of collections.
    • Provide minimum level of online access to collections (collection level records).
    • Provide a centralized entry point for researchers and staff
our approach
Our Approach
  • Survey entire University Archives and record holdings/location information and very (very) basic descriptive data
  • Summer 2007 create collection level records for all University Archives collections
    • MARC
    • DACS single level optimum
  • Summer 2008 convert all MARC to EAD
  • Processing and EAD retroconversion happening concurrently
our approach6
Our Approach
  • Why MARC?
conclusions
Conclusions
  • Standards are essential to the process
    • Adherence to content standards
  • Structured data is essential to the process
  • Archival description needs to get more data-centric
conclusions9
Conclusions
  • Description is an iterative process
    • Descriptive records are dynamic
      • Can be expanded based on need or when additional resources become available
      • Can include data from a variety of sources
        • Staff, including public services, curators, users
conclusions11
Conclusions
  • Description is an iterative process
    • Not limited to traditional archival outputs
      • Can also form the descriptive infrastructure for digitization/digital library program
      • Can be manipulated in multiple ways
        • Let the user do the arrangement!
conclusions13
Conclusions
  • Better infrastructure needs to develop
    • Editing records is still a very manual process
    • Tracking/collection management still difficult
    • Traditional finding aid displays still problematic for large/complex collections
conclusions14
Conclusions
  • Need to advocate for integration with library technical infrastructure
    • Support for special collections systems not traditionally seen as responsibility of library systems (both budget and staff)
conclusions15
Conclusions
  • Archival description has a lot to offer
    • “If the Library of Congress’s well proven approach won’t work as we digitize our information, ideas, and knowledge, what will? David Weinberger, Everything is Miscellaneous
    • At Princeton, EAD suggested or already in use
      • Engineering library technical reports
      • Latin American Ephemera
      • Rare Print Materials
      • Digital Objects
questions
Questions?
  • dsantam@princeton.edu