Conway and Proffitt Paper Describes What Can Be Accomplished by Implementing Shared Archival Collections Assessment Practices

"The Practice, Power, and Promise of Archival Collections Assessment" describes how archival collections assessment enables institutions to better serve the needs of users, allocate resources and acquire funding. Written by Martha O'Hara Conway from University of Michigan and Merrilee Proffitt from OCLC Research, the report appears in the Fall 2012 issue of RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage.

Key takeaways include:

  • There are many indications that special collections will play an increasingly central role in shaping research library collections of the twenty-first century.
  • Archival collections assessment is an essential tool that special collections librarians will need to use to effectively prioritize acquisitions, preservation, processing, and collection management efforts and to harness the full research value of archival collections.
  • Most collections assessment projects are aimed at achieving one or more of these four purposes: exposing hidden collections, establishing processing priorities, assessing condition and managing collections.
  • While many challenges remain, there are also significant opportunities for institutions to move forward and take action.

The report also includes details of the necessary framework needed to prioritize work and take action, as well as models, methodologies, and inspiration for staff undertaking archival collections assessment.

For more information:

Merrilee Proffitt
Senior Program Officer
OCLC Research

Melissa Renspie
Senior Communications Officer
OCLC Research