Deaccessioning and Reappraisal Development and Review Team

Deaccessioning and Reappraisal Development and Review Team

Deadline Extended

The Deaccessioning and Reappraisal Development and Review Team has extended the deadline for comment on the draft Guidelines for Reappraisal and Deaccessioning to October 16, 2011.  Please send all comments to Laura Uglean Jackson.

Update - July 13, 2011

The Deaccessioning and Reappraisal Development and Review Team shares this July 12, 2011 draft of the Guidelines for Reappraisal and Deaccessioning for general comment by the archival community.  Please send all comments to Laura Uglean Jackson.

Update - September 21, 2010

At the SAA Annual Meeting in Austin, twenty-five people attended the Preliminary Planning Meeting for the Deaccessioning and Reappraisal Development and Review Team. This team will produce guidelines for reappraisal and deaccessioning to be accepted by SAA. The purpose of this meeting was to facilitate a preliminary discussion about the guidelines and gauge interest. Attendees made suggestions and expressed concerns about various aspects of the committee and guidelines. Minutes from the August 13, 2009 meeting are available.

Interest in developing these guidelines has been outstanding. In addition to the meeting participants, about a dozen other individuals expressed interest through email. Several people volunteered to serve on the committee, and selection was based on trying to form a group diverse in repository type, location, and experience.

Members of the Deaccessioning and Reappraisal Development and Review Team:

Peter Blodgett, Huntington Library
Jeremy Brett, University of Iowa
Cathi Carmack, Tennessee State Library and Archives
Lisa Grimm, Drexel University College of Medicine
Anne Foster, University of Alaska- Fairbanks
Laura Uglean Jackson, University of Wyoming (Chair)
Chela Scott Weber, Brooklyn Historical Society
Linda Whitaker, Arizona Historical Foundation, Arizona State University
Marcella Wiget, Kansas State Historical Society

Our first task will be to identify and review existing literature and policies for reappraisal and deaccessioning. We will be soliciting feedback at various points throughout our work, and will keep the Section updated with our progress.
If you have questions or comments, please contact Laura Uglean Jackson, Chair.


In February 2008, the Acquisition and Appraisal Section Steering Committee presented a proposal to develop guidelines for reappraisal and deaccessioning to the Standards Committee. With the support of the Standards Committee and Council, the section leadership has begun moving forward with the effort. Since these guidelines will have broad professional application, interested professionals from across SAA, not just those who are members of the Acquisition and Appraisal Section, were invited to participate directly in their development.

Reappraisal and deaccessioning have been controversial topics since at least the publication of the 1984 winter issue of American Archivist, in which Karen Benedict, Richard Haas, Leonard Rapport, F. Gerald Ham, and Jutta Reed-Scott debated the practical and theoretical merits of each. As the historical record continues to grow and repositories’ resources do not keep pace with this growth, and with the example of successful reappraisal and deaccessioning projects at the Minnesota Historical Society and the American Heritage Center, more repositories are willing to consider employing reappraisal and deaccessioning as tools in managing their collections. NHPRC’s funding of the AHC’s large-scale project also evidences increased approval and support at the national level. Further, if attendance at SAA sessions on the topic in 2005 and 2008 is any indication, practitioners are interested in learning more about reappraisal and deaccessioning and are looking for guidance and resources. Two archivists who presented their deaccessioning experiences at the 2008 session called for the establishment of profession-wide guidelines for deaccessioning, but as Mark Greene notes in a recently published article, the archival profession has not provided guidelines or addressed the question in our code of ethics, as our colleagues in the allied professions of librarianship and museum curatorship have. Consequently, projects at archival repositories have had to rely on standards from those fields in creating their own policies.[1]

This project seeks to rectify that oversight. The guidelines produced will provide informed direction and professional sanction for archivists and repositories that choose to manage their collections in this way. They will also assist archivists to implement transparent and consistent strategic collection management, to husband their limited resources more effectively, and to serve researchers by directing their efforts to retained collections and making transferred collections available at more appropriate repositories.

1 Mark Greene, “I’ve Deaccessioned and Lived to Tell About It: Confessions of an Unrepentant Reappraiser,” Archival Issues 30:1 (2006), 17 n. 18.