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ARCHIVES Home

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ARCHIVES  February 2005, Week 4

ARCHIVES February 2005, Week 4

Subject:

Re: cost of processing a collection

From:

Paula Jeannet Mangiafico <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Paula Jeannet Mangiafico <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 27 Feb 2005 21:12:45 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (62 lines)

I wrote to the list about this topic some time ago, asking if it was
possible to set up standardized benchmarks for processing speed. Of course
the answer is, as it is for so many things, "it depends"!

We have devised a formula of 8-20 hours per linear foot from start to
absolute finish, including the processing proposal, processing, encoding
and posting a full finding aid, and taking care of all preservation; 8
hours is our rough estimate for folder-level work of the simplest kind,
while 20 hours is for item-level work (i.e., correspondence put into date
order). Most of our processing work falls into the 10-hour per linear foot
range, but every collection is a unique case. Some factors that we take
into consideration: series that will be processed at different levels;
preservation issues that might appear (e.g., copying audio tapes,
photocopying clippings), and along these lines, how much audiovisual and
photographic material there is; probable vacations and sick time; and even
the time it takes to move the collection around and in and out of your
processing space multiple times. We especially are on the lookout for large
groups of items that may require item-level work (clippings, audiovisual
originals, photographs, correspondence, chaotic folders or series, etc.).
It's amazing how they will slow a project down!

As far as how many folders it takes, we usually try to do it by series or
groups of original boxes, estimating, as Laurie does, about 20 folders per
box for "average" situations, but as many as 40, for example if the donor
created file groups with very thin folders of materials. We can always put
the remainders into the stock we use for accessioning and other projects.

It's possible to reliably estimate the scope and trajectory of a project
once you've processed a lot of (and a variety of) collections, but it's
difficult sometimes for those outside of Technical Services to imagine why
processing large collections can take such a long time. We spend a lot of
time on the processing proposal in order to help us plan projects more
accurately and to document the work and resources needed, not just for our
department, but for other staff. If anyone would like a copy of our
proposal template, I can send it in an email.

Paula

--------------------------------------------------

Paula Jeannet Mangiafico
Associate Librarian
Head, Collections Processing and Visual Materials Section
Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library
Duke University
Durham, NC

(919) 660-5915
[log in to unmask]

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