Arranging and Describing Archives and Manuscripts (Archival Fundamentals Series III, Volume 2)

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  • About the author

Arrangement and description lie at the very heart of the archival endeavor. While all archival functions are crucial and interdependent, arrangement and description transform the potential value of materials into practical, usable value for researchers and others. In Arranging and Describing Archives and Manuscripts, Dennis Meissner provides a solid foundation in the history, theory, and standards supporting arrangement and description. In addition, he clearly demonstrates the approaches, methods, and mechanics required to process archival collections.

The processing landscape has changed considerably in the last decade: archivists focus more on the economics of processing, descriptive standards have matured and increased in number, new technologies and viewpoints have challenged long-standing assumptions, and evolving systems and software have changed the mechanics of metadata capture and serialization and our approaches to those fundamental processes. This is a must-read book for every archivist practicing today.

Examination copies are available for instructors who are interested in adopting this title for course use.

Dennis Meissner

Dennis Meissner is the retired Deputy Director for Programs at the Minnesota Historical Society, a Fellow of the Society of American Archivists, a past president of SAA, and current member of the SAA Foundation board of directors. Most of his archival career has focused on the arrangement, description, and the larger management of archival materials, including their discovery and use in networked environments. He has participated in a number of SAA and international efforts to that end. Dennis has worked closely with the design, delivery, and management of the electronic finding aids to archival collections, and has participated in numerous U.S. and international working groups in the development and delivery of collection descriptions and the standards that underlie them. He has consulted and presented educational workshops on archival processing and related topics and has published in those areas, but also in the area of business records management. He has served three times as the principal faculty member for the Western Archives Institute. In 2003, He and Mark A. Greene (American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming) were awarded a yearlong NHPRC Archival Research Fellowship to study archival processing expectations and backlogs in U.S. repositories and to recommend changes to existing practices. That research led to an article in the American Archivist, “More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Archival Processing.” The aftermath of that research within the archival community has led to the publication of several articles by other archivists, presentations at many archival and library meetings and conferences, an SAA workshop series, and growing awareness within library, sound and visual, and cultural materials communities.