Monday, September 14, 2015

Acquiring, appraising and accessioning


  • Donations
    • Be proactive, but avoid accepting items inappropriate to your archives policy
    • Always complete a deed of gift form
      • Name of the donor
      • Name of the recipient archives
      • Description of the material
      • Conditions of deposit or access restrictions (if any)
      • A statement including transfer of ownership (and copyright)
      • Date of the acquisition
      • Signatures of both the archivist and the donor
Deed of gift forms
Sample deed of gift forms:
Council of Nova Scotia Archives
White Rock Museum & Archives 
University of Victoria Libraries

Deed of gifts
Society of American Archivists. A Guide to Deeds of Gift


Acquisition policies
Guidelines for Developing an Acquisitions Policy.

Library and Archives Canada. Acquisition and Donation of Private Records

Nova Scotia Archives & Records Management. Archival Acquisition Policy. 


  • Ask first: Is item worth accepting?
    • Does it fall into acquisition policy?
    • Will it need high maintenance?
  • Appraisal criteria
    • Administrative value
    • Age
      • Are there upkeep issues?
    • Quantity
      • How much?
      • How much room will it take?
      • Budget
    • Type of material
      • Resources
        • invoices
        • journal
        • letter
        • video
          • does it need restoration?
    • Uniqueness
      • Not mass produced/published
    • Physical quality
    • Time span
    • Accessibility
      • Restrictions should enable people to use record at some point in time
    • Use
      • How often? 
      • What for?
  • Avoid making appraisal yourself.
  • When appraising archival material, also consider the following:
    • Does the archival material fit your policy and does it enhance the rest of the collection, or is it unsuitable and inappropriate?
    • Does it fill gaps in your collection or duplicate information already available?
    • How much will it cost to preserve and store, and is it worth the expense?
    • Is the medium itself important, such as a photograph produced by a special process?

  • Values and standards change with time
  • Reappraisal of documents is also an important archival activity

  • Each new item or group of items brought into the archives is a separate accession
  • Give each separate accession an accession number
    • Many different numbering systems
    • Some systems use numbers, others letters, some a mixture of both
    • Choose a numbering system that suits organization’s needs
  • Mark the accession number on the containers In which the new accession is stored temporarily, then mark the number on all archival folders, boxes, or other containers once the material is arranged and processed
  • The accession record documents the acquisition of each new group of records by the archives; it serves to prove possession and ownership of documents in the archives. Until new material is processed, arranged, and described, an accession number will be the primary source of information
  • Sample accession records

  • When deciding whether or not to keep certain items, ask these questions:
    • Is it no longer relevant to your archives policy?
    • Is it no longer useful to researchers?
    • Is there a danger of not being able to care for it?
    • Has it deteriorated physically beyond all usefulness?
    • Is it better suited to another archives?
Additional resources

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