This post is part of a series on a literature review of reappraisal and deaccessioning in archival collections. Click on a link below to read further:
This literature review examines reappraisal and deaccessioning as discussed in three Archival Issues articles about multi-year projects conducted at large institutions. After describing the projects, I offer a critical assessment, exploring reappraisal and deaccessioning experiences that can better inform archivists considering such undertakings.
A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology defines reappraisal as “the process of identifying materials that no longer merit preservation and that are candidates for deaccessioning” due to flawed original appraising, collection policy modifications, or changes in the records’ perceived value (Pearce-Moses). The glossary defines deaccessioning as “the process by which an archives, museum, or library permanently removes accessioned materials from its holdings.” These records may be returned to donors, transferred to other institutions, or destroyed.
Reappraisal may lead to deaccessioning, but not always. Conversely, deaccessioning often results from reappraisal, as well as other reasons. Deaccessioning is not weeding, or the removal of unwanted documents during processing; rather, it removes entire series, collections, or record groups from a repository.