Course:3: Processing
Lesson:Lesson 5 – Processing: Putting It All Together
Topic:Lesson 5 Summary

Lesson 5 Summary

Arranging, preserving, and describing your historic records collections are core archival activities. These activities, together called processing, result in collections that are well organized, preserved from deterioration, and accessible to your users.

Arrangement and description must be done with the user in mind. Providing a collection that reflects its creation (provenance and original order) allows researchers to more fully understand why and how the records they are using were created; giving them a context for their research. The cataloging tools and finding aids that you create for your collections are the only means for helping researchers locate what they want.

The preservation work that is done during processing assures that your collections will stay in the best possible condition. Preservation work requires time and resources. Most historic records programs have to make decisions about just how much preservation work they can afford to do during processing. If you can only afford one thing, try to make sure that the materials that come into direct contact with the records are of appropriate archival quality. These materials come into direct contact with your historic collections and provide the first line of defense against deterioration.

In the next course we will continue looking at preservation, but from a different point of view. Your materials are affected by the building and storage conditions in which they are located and by the potential disasters that could occur. We will look at these factors in depth, and help you to decide what changes you should make in the physical environment of your facility and how you can plan for potential disasters in order to help preserve your historical records.