How to Proceed: Finishing the Job

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1. Introduction
2. Preparing to Process
3. Arranging
4. Describing
5. Housing and Preserving
6. Finishing the Job

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You have arranged, described, and preserved. Now it is time to put the collection on the shelf and clear off your work area in preparation for your next job. It is unacceptable to call a processing job finished when you still have collection parts or collection detritus on, under, or around your desk or anywhere else in Tech Services.


Location Table

Time was that all the archival collections at UNC were filed in numerical order--almost five thousand collections and all filed in order. This is impressive, especially considering that over the years collections long ago accessioned might have grown and grown again with new additions. But since storage space is evermore at a premium, this filing strategy no longer makes sense. Nowadays, collections are shelved where there is space available, typically at the end of the SHC/SFC/UA collections. Locating collections is completely dependent on the accuracy of the location table in the archival locations database. It is imperative that you enter the correct information into the database table when you place a new collection on the shelves, otherwise Research and Instructional Services staff may be unable to locate a collection.

If you have a new collection or an addition that does not fit in the shelf space previously allotted to the original collection, find the end of the SHC/SFC/UA run, add your boxes, and enter the location in the location table. Do not leave any blank spaces on the shelf; do not start a new shelf until the one before it is full.

If you have a z collection, interfile it with all of the other z collections and enter its location in the location table.

For specifics on using the location table, see New Location Database entering

For assistance in knowing where in the stacks to put materials away see Where to Put Away Materials.

If you have any questions about how to enter data in the location table, do not hesitate to ask your supervising archivist. If in the process of entering the location of your collection in the location table you come across incorrect location data, notify your supervising archivist immediately. It cannot be emphasized too much how important the accuracy of the location table is.

Feng Shui Your Workspace; Or, Getting Rid of Detritus

Some materials cannot be retained with collections; other materials should not be kept. At this point in your processing project, you and your supervising archivist would likely have determined if you have materials not appropriate for retention.

Items not retained with manuscript collections:

Donors are asked to specify in the deed of gift what they want done with materials not appropriate for retention with the collections they give. The choices are typically to return these items to the donor or for the donor to give us permission to do with them what we wish. The gift agreement should state the donor’s preference for disposition of discards, but if there is any uncertainty please check with your supervising archivist.

When a collection is a gift and the donor DOES NOT want materials back, you and your supervising archivist will act on one or more of the following options:

  • offer items to other parts of the library (e.g., the North Carolina Collection, the Maps Collection of the Reference Department, the general collections in Davis);
  • for items of artifactual value, turn them over to your supervising archivist for transfer to our agent for sale (we cannot sell materials that are on loan or that we have purchased);
  • recycle them (confidential recycling is available for sensitive material; See Confidential Recycling);
  • trash them.

When a collection is a gift and the donor DOES want materials back, you and your supervising archivist will box up discards as neatly as possible. In some cases you will prepare them for shipment to the donor. The donor’s address should be available in the control file. For specifics on this see: Sending Items Back to Donors

More frequently the curator will negotiate the return of items not included with the collection to the donor. It is our responsibility to clearly indicate why the items are being left out of the collection, i.e. duplicates, student grades are present, publications unrelated to the collection, etc,

When it comes to returns, use some discretion in determining what to ship to the donor and what to heave into the trash. We typically return sensitive materials, research notes, duplicate photographs, duplicate printed material that has some direct connection to the donor, greeting cards and postcards lacking informational or artifactual value, and anything else that could go in the trash but might make us look bad if someone who did not understand our retention guidelines came across it.

When a collection is a purchase, you and your supervising archivist will:

  • transfer, recycle, or trash the discards, but you cannot mark for sale anything that we have purchased.

Your supervising archivist will consult with you about what to do with materials that are not appropriate for retention, but ultimately the onus is on you to manage the disposition of discards. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES LEAVE UNLABELED BOXES OF DISCARDS ANYWHERE IN THE WILSON LIBRARY TO BE DEALT WITH AT A LATER DATE.

Items not retained with University Archives collections:

Materials deemed not appropriate for retention are never returned to the donating department. They are recycled, confidentially recycled, or transferred to another library department. Your supervising archivist will help you dispose of these items.


Library departments to which we typically offer materials include:

  • Davis Library: Books, government documents, periodicals, and other publications not appropriate for the North Carolina Collection or the Rare Book Collection. Government documents may be sent directly to the Documents Librarian and periodicals to the Serials Department.
  • North Carolina Collection: Books, newspapers, clippings, state documents, pamphlets, or other publications by or about a North Carolinian, about a North Carolina subject, or published in North Carolina. Also any blank forms printed in North Carolina, particularly those that are examples of early printing in the state.
  • North Carolina Collection Gallery: Artifacts; Confederate and other currency.
  • North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives: Large collections of photographs that have a North Carolina connection, but that are only loosely connected to the collection with which they arrive.
  • Rare Book Collection: Check with your supervising archivist if you have books, pamphlets, periodicals, or other publications that you believe may be appropriately placed in the Rare Book Collection.
  • Maps Collection: Maps that have little or no connection with other material in the collection with which they were received. Think about whether a researcher would be likely to find a particular map in a particular collection. If it seems unlikely, then the Maps Collection may be a better place for the map to be preserved and used.

For more information on preparing transfers see Transferring Items to Other Collections

For more information on disposing of all of the various types of detritus, see Getting Rid of Stuff

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