Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Reappraisal and Deaccessioning: A Literature Review Part 5 of 5

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:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Whatever the circumstances, reappraisal and deaccessioning are useful tools for preserving records of enduring value when used strategically rather than on a case-by-case basis. Reappraisal and deaccessioning should be “public and transparent … as normal a part of standard archives administration as cataloging and reference” (Greene, p. 8). Wojcik noted that reappraisal and deaccessioning guidelines built trust with state agencies to transfer records to the State Archives of Michigan. Knies’ project was touted to stakeholders as a way to reduce costs, although it was one of many benefits. Greene observed that donors supported deaccessioning as a tool to improve access for researchers using their records.

The articles presented reappraisal and deaccessioning projects as beneficial to archives. The goals of the projects were to make deaccessioning consistent across all collections; construct better guidelines for acquisitions, appraisal, reappraisals, and deaccessioning; achieve greater intellectual and physical control over the records; and understand why records were preserved. Materials of marginal value are deaccessioned before valuable time is invested in processing them. Archivists may then concentrate their efforts solely on records with confirmed archival value. Knies was the only author to review the success of the project after its completion. Seven years later, he notes that paper records are no longer a problem as they once were because of the growth of technology. The larger problem we face is a decline in the quality of records being captured for transfer, as well as missing documentation that exists primarily in electronic form. However, this is another issue for the professional literature to debate.

Works Cited

American Association of Museums. (1994). Code of Ethics for Museums. (Washington, DC: American Association of Museums).

Ericson, T. (1991) ‘At the rim of creative dissatisfaction’: Archivists and acquisitions development. Archivaria, 33, 66-77.

Greene, M. A. (2006). I’ve deaccessioned and lived to tell about it: Confessions of an unrepentant reappraiser. Archival Issues, 30(1), 7-22.

Ham, F. G. (1984). Archival choices: Managing the historical record in the age of abundance,” American Archivist, 47(1), 11-22.

Knies, H. M. (2006). Reappraising and reaccessioning Wisconsin state government records: An agency-wide approach. Archival Issues, 30(1), 35-43.

Pearce-Moses, R. (2005). A glossary of archival and records terminology. (Chicago: Society of American Archivists) Retrieved February 5, 2009, from Society of American Archivists Web site: http://www.archivists.org/glossary/index.asp

Wojcik, C. (2002). Appraisal, reappraisal, and deaccessioning. Archival Issues, 27(2), 151-160.