Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Archival Processing Manual

by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

The Archival Processing Manual for the Manuscript Unit of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library records policies and procedures for processing manuscript collections at Beinecke and thereby serves as a training guide for new staff as well as an ongoing resource for all staff. It has been developed by Manuscript Unit archivists in accordance with national standards and reflects how these standards inform local practice. The manual should be used in conjunction with published professional standards and manuals and with guidance and advice from one’s supervisor and colleagues at Beinecke. The manual is also a living document, subject to ongoing revision as our policies and practices change.

In addition to providing instruction and guidance for processors of manuscript collections, the Processing Manual also provides information about the library’s accessioning, shelving, classification, and other record-keeping practices, past and present, that may be useful to processing archivists.

We process collections in order to facilitate use and preservation, with three main goals:

  • Arrange collections to facilitate retrieval and use
  • Describe collections to facilitate discovery and provide contextual information that aids understanding of the material
  • Preserve collections into the indefinite future

The goal of the Manuscript Unit is to process all collections to a baseline level, and carry out more extensive work on our most important holdings as time and resources permit. Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, and competing priorities. When planning and carrying out a processing project, it is each archivist’s responsibility to determine the appropriate level to which the collection should be processed, in consultation with supervisors and curators.

Processing is a collaborative effort, in which the archivist draws upon the knowledge and skills of other archivists, supervisors, curators, archives assistants, student assistants, and others who can make positive contributions to this activity. We welcome input into our work by other staff members at Beinecke and Yale as well as the broader archival profession.


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Archived with Internet Archive, 2017-02-07:

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