Third Thursday #3

Welcome to the third Third Thursdays Monthly Appraisal Conversation! With this regular conversation series, we hope to spark regular, continued discussion among section members and interested others about the fundamental archival action of appraisal.

The questions for this month are:

• How do you balance appraisal with donor expectations?
• What are some strategies you use to persuade and convince donors that the material they see as valuable may not be from an archival perspective?
• How do you manage political considerations (pressure from administrators, for example) that may impact appraisal decisions when working with donors?

Thank you to those who may have already responded to our questions – and it’s not too late! Please read and join the conversation in the comments section below – we hope to keep the conversation moving today (April 21) from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm Central Time!

[Note: we did not require respondents to sign their name, so for the sake of clarity, unsigned comments are numbered.]

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3 thoughts on “Third Thursday #3

  1. Vin Novara

    • How do you balance appraisal with donor expectations?

    Ideally, this was already in discussion from the moment of first stewardship. I do my best to establish and define realistic expectations from the beginning. So, when the time comes to start selecting materials there is more clarity about what will be best for the users, the collection, and the donor/family member/entity/subject/etc.

    • What are some strategies you use to persuade and convince donors that the material they see as valuable may not be from an archival perspective?

    First, evidence-based discussions about anticipated use drawn from complementary collections already onsite. Second, an explanation of the most common inquiries and access requests received. Third, being frank about how the content or format is out of scope for our collecting policy. Value varies from repository to repository, so sometimes I recommend alternate homes for such material – and if it’s going to compromise the integrity of the collection to do so, I pass on the collection.

    • How do you manage political considerations (pressure from administrators, for example) that may impact appraisal decisions when working with donors?

    Cautiously. This comes up about every other year or so. Having an established collecting policy is the best bet, and having that policy endorsed by administration certainly strengthens the case.

    Reply
    1. appraisalsaa Post author

      Vin – thanks for weighing in. I particularly like the strategy of explaining potential research use, and the history of use of like collections, and the donor’s papers within that context. For some donors, research can often be an afterthought, so putting that front and center is crucial. – Mat Darby/Russell Library/UGA and A&A Section Steering Committee

      Reply
  2. Linda Barrett

    I agree with Vin’s strategy of referring aspiring donors of materials that fall outside of our policy to other, more appropriate institutions, and use it often. I am fortunate in that I have a decent collections policy to fall back on, and I am located in a large metropolitan area with an active local professional group. This has given me a chance to get to know other archivists and more about their institutions and collections so that I can make useful referrals.

    Reply

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