Every box (or container), folder, volume, and/or loose item in the collection should receive a number. Folders, volumes, or items housed within a box or container should be labeled with BOTH a box number and folder/volume/item number. In consultation with your supervisor, you may decide to forego numbering each folder in larger collections.
To avoid numbering the collection multiple times, do not assign box and/or folder numbers until the collection is fully processed, as the order of series and/or folders will likely change over the course of processing. Prior to assigning numbers to any part of the collection, processors should ensure that all boxes in the collection are adequately stuffed. Boxes should be full, so that folders support each other and do not slouch, but should not be so full that it is difficult to remove or re-file folders.
Like in library cataloging, name, subject, and genre authorities are identified for archival collections. Using only authorized headings is recommended. However, the Processing Archivist can check for these during the processing of the finding aid. Processors should note important names, locations, subjects, and genres on the processing worksheets. Do not identify more authorities than are necessary to bring attention to the most important people and subjects represented in the collection. Identifying 5 to 10 names, subjects, and genres combined should be sufficient, and possibly too many for smaller collections.
At the University of Florida, we currently use the following controlled vocabularies:
Subjects and geographical areas: FAST headings
Persons and organizations: Library of Congress Name Authority File
Physical features and materials: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
Genres and forms: Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms
Visual iconography: Thesaurus for Graphic Materials
There are always loose ends at the end of a processing project, and they are always different. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Processors should inspect their work area, as well as the collection’s original storage location, making certain that all files, volumes, items, and boxes of records have been accounted for, processed, and returned to their proper location within the collection. Processors should go back to the collection’s existing documentation, especially the survey and processing plan, to ensure that all records were included in processing. Processors should consult with staff as well as their supervisor if they discover material not accounted for in their arrangement and finding aid.
After processing, it is common for a collection’s inclusive and/or bulk dates to change. Processors, should review their collection inventory, or folder list, and make sure that the inclusive and/or bulk dates recorded at the collection, series, and/or subseries levels reflect the earliest and latest dates identified in the folder list.
Processors should review the finding aid, making sure the collection is described accurately, and that information provided in the various components of the finding aid is compatible and consistent. For example, if series dates are provided in the collection level scope and contents note, the dates should match the dates provided at the series level, and match the dates connected to folders within the series.
Box and Folder Numbers
It is easy to make mistakes in assigning box and folder numbers when working quickly! Verifying the accuracy of box and folder numbers can be completed during data entry. After completely entering each box, processors should count the folders in the box and compare the number of folders to the number recorded on the last physical folder as well as in the finding aid.
Though the collection was measured during the survey, it likely grew or shrank during processing. Once a collection is completely processed and shelved, processors should re-measure the collection in 2 ways:
There are many ways to calculate linear feet. Processors should measure linear feet by measuring each container and volume in the direction papers are stacked. For example, a standard document case will measure 5 inches or .42 linear feet. Our slightly larger document boxes measure 7 inches, or .58 linear feet. A large flat box will usually measure 3 inches or .25 linear feet (though it may measure significantly more in shelf feet). Flat boxes housing slides or artifacts should be measured in the amount of shelf feet they will occupy. Volumes should be measured across the text block, including the front and back cover. Processors should take the total number of inches and divide by 12 to calculate the linear feet.
Processors should count and record the number of containers, loose volumes, and items in the collection. Foldered and boxed volume(s) and/or item(s) should NOT be counted separately as part of the volume(s) and/or item(s) count. Significant collections of slides should include an approximate slide count; 35 mm slides average 20 slides per inch and 120 mm (medium format) slides average 17 per inch.
As in all writing, the information provided in a finished finding aid should be clear and concise, and free of error. In addition to correcting spelling and grammatical errors throughout the entire finding aid, processors should review the abstract, biographical/historical note, scope and contents notes, and the collection inventory for clarity and accuracy in description. Processors are advised to look out for inconsistencies in formatting, punctuation, and/or terminology. Finally, processors should identify any aspects of the collection that are not adequately described, return to the collection for review, and provide additional descriptive information as necessary.
Note: You cannot provide full details for everything. Return to the collection for additional information only when an obvious lack of information or error in description compromises the effectiveness of the finding aid.