Course:3: Processing
Lesson:Lesson 2: Arrangement
Topic:Step 3: Decide an Arrangement Scheme and Plan for Preservation

Step 3: Decide an Arrangement Scheme and Plan for Preservation

Finally, take another look at the records in order to make final decisions about arrangement. Begin thinking about what kind of preservation work needs to be done. You will start to create an informal plan. (More about this in Step 4.)  When you’re done, you should be able to answer these questions:

  • What is the original order of the records?
  • What kind of information is in the records?
  • Why might the records be organized this way?
  • What kinds of formats are within the collection?
  • What kind of supplies will you need to process the collection? (More about this in a minute.)
  • How will you address “document level” arrangement?

This is also the time to think about “document level” arrangement. Up until now we have discussed arrangement and order in terms of the filing system. Now you will need to consider the documents themselves.

Most often it’s best to leave the individual documents in their original order. If, however, that order has obviously been lost (the contents of the folders were spilled in the boxes, for example) you may need to create an order – chronological order often works best at this document level.


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Jot down notes about your thoughts and observations. If no original order is present, this is the time to review and decide what kind of arrangement is appropriate. Note why you have chosen a particular method.