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Contemporary Archival Appraisal Methods and Preservation Decision-Making

1996-07-01 , Walters, Tyler , Special Collections and University Archives

Archival administrators are beginning the search for administrative tools that rationalize difficult preservation priority decision-making processes. Some are suggesting that the new appraisal literature be evaluated for its application to preservation selection. This article reviews the literature covering archival appraisal's role in the process of selection for preservation in archives, and addresses recent efforts to create archival preservation assessment and selection tools. It also provides overviews of some modern appraisal models which are intended for collections and preservation archivists who are working with selection-for-preservation issues. The author suggests that archivists need to concern themselves less with implementing preservation selection tools. They must concentrate first on understanding the values that make archival records significant, and then rationalize their preservation selection decision-making processes. Then, and only then, should the decisions' hierarchy and flow be incorporated into a preservation assessment and selection tool that is adaptable to individual archival institutions, yet consistent enough to yield comparable data.