Welcome to the second 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:
- Where do you learn about appraisal?
- What is the most provocative, useful, or thoughtful comment that you have read (or heard) about appraisal from others?
- What advice would you give to a new archivist who is interested in learning more about appraisal?
Thank you to those who already responded to our questions– and its not too late! Please read and join the conversation in the comments section below–we hope to keep the conversation moving today (March 17) between 11:30am-1:30pm Central Time!
[Note: we did not require respondents to sign their name, so for the sake of clarity, unsigned comments are numbered.]
Mark Sprang, South Carolina Dept of Archives and History:
Where do you learn about appraisal? Graduate coursework provides a great foundation to get yourself on the right track, as my program had an entire course dedicated to it. Continuing education resources can be great as well, especially for the complex nature of electronic records. Experienced colleagues and coworkers can provide a wealth of experience to draw on for new professionals in the field. I have found that to be especially helpful in my current position.
What is the most provocative, useful, or thoughtful comment that you have read (or heard) about appraisal from others? Sometimes, despite all of the literature out there or regulations governing what must be kept, an educated guess is the best thing you can do.
What advice would you give to a new archivist who is interested in learning more about appraisal? Try and find diverse opinions. In repositories where the majority of records are not part of a retention schedule (like special collections), appraisal is extremely important and is qualitative in nature. Try to come at a set of records as objectively as you can. Also, take advantage of some of the published articles available on the SAA website. They will be invaluable.
Where do you learn about appraisal? Looking back, I thought that I learned a lot about appraisal on the job. But really, I learned a lot in grad school before I started to work as an archivist, as well. I would say that I learned a lot of what NOT to do from my job and coworkers, too.
What is the most provocative, useful, or thoughtful comment that you have read (or heard) about appraisal from others? I think its important to try to be open to a range of ideas when it comes to appraisal. I work with southwestern history, and there are different opinions when it comes to whether particular items/records are worthy of keeping. I remember discussing the idea of records showing different world views, and how important it was to be open to other peoples’ ways of keeping records.
What advice would you give to a new archivist who is interested in learning more about appraisal? Read, talk to people, and try to think about not just the present but the future use of records that you are keeping. Try not to get pressured into taking records from people just because they leave the books or boxes at your door.
Where do you learn about appraisal? Graduate school. I’d like to find other people to talk about appraisal with, now that I’m an archivist. I feel like now that I have a few years of experience, I could talk more knowledgably.
What advice would you give to a new archivist who is interested in learning more about appraisal? Archivists are not neutral and neither is appraisal. So we need to talk about what appraisal is in order to be inclusive. Read and talk with other archivists and other people.
Do one or more of these responses resonate with you? Do you have suggestions, comments, or experiences to share? Can you suggest an article, book, or other helpful resource? Tell us in the comments!