What Happens to a Collection?

The goal of any archives is to make its materials accessible to researchers in the quickest and most user-friendly way possible in accordance with established archival standards. The better a collection is processed and publicized, the more likely it is to be used. Following is a rough description of the standard approach to processing materials at the Silicon Valley Archives:

1. A member of the archives staff meets with the donor to review the materials and collaborate on an organization scheme.

2. One or more members of the archives staff transfer the collection to archival storage boxes before transporting the boxes to Stanford. At this point, the materials are not formally processed; they are moved to these archival storage systems for purposes of preservation.

3. The collection number for the materials is assigned. The collection number will appear on the collection guide (see #6 below) and in all online listings for the materials. Also at this time the archives staff prepares a deed of gift to formally register receipt of the materials.

4. The materials are transported to Stanford, where they are assigned a locator number indicating precisely in which aisle, range, section, and shelf of the secure storage facility they are located.

5. The collection begins to undergo formal processing. Trained archives staff divides the materials into series, boxes, and folders, each of which is carefully labeled. Any photos are placed in protective mylar sheets, and electronic records are prepared for public use according to their special requirements.

6. Work begins on a collection guide. The guide includes a brief description of the materials included under the collection number, the donor’s name and date of gift, a scope and content note, and a bibliographical note or few paragraphs on the organizational history of the items to give researchers a better sense of the context for the materials. For a sample collection guide, see the guide to the Apple Computer Collection.

7. The collection guide is available online via Stanford’s online library catalogue Socrates, and through the web-based catalog of the Online Archives of California and the Research Libraries Information Network (RLIN). Generally a paper copy is also stored in the reading room.
8. Visitors to the archives can begin reviewing the collection guide and requesting specific materials.

Reading Room at Green Library
Scholars and other researchers use the collections of the Silicon Valley Archives in this state-of-the-art reading room.




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