Course:3: Processing
Lesson:Lesson 1: Introduction to Processing
Topic:Lesson 1 Introduction
 Welcome to Course 3: Processing

Lesson 1: Introduction to Processing

After acquiring records, dividing them into appropriate groups, and accessioning them, you have gained a minimal amount of physical and intellectual control over them--you know something about what the records are and you know where they are located.

However, archival collections usually require more work to make them understandable and usable for your audience. Simply telling a user that there are 10 boxes of minutes or five containers of photographs isn’t enough information.  Your users need to know how the records are organized, where they came from, and how to locate the exact information they need to look at.  This work is called processing. Processing gets the records ready for people to use them and helps protect and preserve them.

There are three tasks involved in processing an archival collection of records:

  • Arrangement: organizing the records
  • Preservation: taking actions to prevent and slow down deterioration of the records
  • Description: creating tools to help your users to locate what they need from the collection

These three tasks will help you

  • Understand more thoroughly what you have and how much of it there is
  • Organize it appropriately
  • Create a way for users to access it easily
  • Take steps to assure that the records are physically preserved

This course will cover each of these tasks. We’re going to start by looking at each task individually, then in Lesson 5 we’ll look at a case study to see how the tasks fit together.

Lesson length icon
This lesson consists of this page and takes about  two minutes to complete.

 archival supplies--gloves, boxes, etc.
Archival supplies and work processes will help ensure your historic records are preserved.

 processing documents
Processing records ensures that the records are organized and preserved, and that your users can find what they need easily.