Acquisitions and Appraisal Section Newsletter, Winter 2012


  1. Section Business

  2. News From Members

  3. Comments from Draft of Guidelines for Reappraisal and Deaccessioning

  4. Announcements

  5. Publications

I. Section Business


2012 SAA Meeting: 

  •   New options: Lightning rounds, no duplicate speakers
  •   Theme: beyond borders

Council report:

  •  New task force to be appointed to look at annual meeting for the following:
    •  Social responsibility
    •  Virtualization
    •  Etc.
  • New taskforce to update and maintain Richard Pearce Mose’s glossary
  • SAA has requested observer status at wipo/copyright meeting 
  • 2 new awards: diversity and emerging leader 

Reappraisal & deaccessioning review report:

  • Deadline for comment extended to oct. 1
  • Forum seemed to go well
  • Goal of submitting to council by may

OCLC report:

  • Well-intentioned digitization best practices
  • "Taking Stock and Making Hay"
  • ArchiveGRID: now free! experimental .w orldcat.o rg/archivegrid 

Standards committee report:

  • New standards portal open for comments

Questions/new business:

  • Question from the floor: “Why are sponsored sessions scheduled opposite each other?”
    • No answer really but Dennis Meissner suggested that the planning committee has difficulty planning sessions with multiple sponsors

Survey report:

  • 70% respondents joined in last 4 years
  • Top 3 other sections:
    • C&U 
    • Manuscripts
    • Issues advocacy/mgmt.
  • Items to add to web:
    • Session presentations
    • Links 
    • Webliography with rss feed (suggestion from floor during discussion)
    • Wiki aspect to resources so members can add to it (suggestion from floor during discussion)
    • Section Facebook page (suggestion from floor during discussion)
      • Use Facebook as duplicate to section page.
      • Question came up about how SAA would archive Facebook comments or if that would be necessary.
      • Records management guidelines would be needed
      • Action Item: Chair of section to investigate SAA guidelines
  • Future items for sessions:
    • E records

Ideas for future sessions from floor:

  • Session on erecords appraisal
  • Records management/archives processes blurred with appraisal
  • Put together appraisal workshops for SAA
  • Lots of factors confound appraisal: is it time to revisit the appraisal process entirely?
  • Some archivists are passively receiving materials and avoiding selection and appraisal
    • Passivity issue is disturbing: related to workflow, time constraint.
    • Possible session on working with these issues
  • Appraisal never occurs in a vacuum: think about other constituencies and their pressures
  • Session idea: bring in development officers to interact with archivists
  • DAS certificate appraisal session

Steering committee meeting:

  • Session ideas: 
    • Learning to say no and easing grief
    • Appraising on the spot
    • Advocating for archives and yourself when w
    • Appraising in context with limited knowledgeinteraction
    • Reappraisal is not a dirty word
  • Other goals: 
    • Appraisal workshops
    • Reappraisal workshops
    • Online case studies
    • Facebook page
    • Multiple distribution modes


The A&A steering committee is pleased to announce that the session titled, “Things they never taught you in graduate school:  A donor-relations primer” was accepted for the SAA 2012 program.  This "lightning round" session was created by members of the steering committee and submitted by Virginia Hunt. 

Exciting Opportunity:  We are in need of more speakers for this session!  If you have experience appraising collections, working with donors, or acquiring collections, please consider sharing your techniques, wisdom, and sage advice at the SAA Annual Conference in San Diego.  To learn more please contact Virginia Hunt at

Abstract: Pro-active acquisitions of archives and manuscripts collections can be time-consuming, intimidating and not always intuitive.  Most of what archivists have learned in working with donors and acquiring collections is earned through experience and time in the field.   Archivists with experience in various aspects of donor relations share informative, amusing, and inspirational advice and knowledge of moving beyond the borders of formal education to the wild world of “learning from experience” and provide diverse tools and advice for overcoming personal and cultural barriers in approaching donors and communities about preserving and documenting their history.   


II. News From Members


The Digital Collections and Archives (DCA) at Tufts University is pleased to announce the completion of its TAPER Project (Tufts Accessioning Program for Electronic Records). During the project the DCA designed, developed, and implemented machine-readable submission agreements and records context records. The DCA fully implemented the machine-readable submission agreements to document accessions and integrated the production of records context records encoded in EAC-CPF into its normal descriptive practices. By the end of the grant project the DCA encoded 51 records context records about Tufts departments and offices in EAC. The EAC records can be viewed at Part of the project deliverables include the DCA's local instructions for implementing EAC ( More information about the project and its deliverables is available at This project was funded by the NHPRC through a Program Expansion Grant.

-Submitted by Eliot Wilczek, University Records Manager, Tufts University


The family of Thomas Baker Slick Jr., founder of the Texas Biomedical Research Institute and other science organizations in San Antonio, has donated his papers to the UTSA Libraries Special Collections.  Slick, the son of legendary oilman Tom Slick Sr., used his inheritance to support activities in a variety of fields, including scientific research, oil drilling, cattle breeding, and exploration.  He established five research institutions, including the Texas Biomedical Research institute, the Mind Science Foundation, and the Human Progress Foundation.  Slick was also co-inventor of the lift-slab method of building construction and wrote two books on world peace.  The papers are available to scholars and researchers interested in the origins of the biomedical and scientific enterprise in San Antonio and South Texas, the oil and gas industry, the history of the research institutions that Slick established, along with his varied other interests.  Visit

-Submitted by Mark Shelstad, Head of Special Collections, University o f Texas at San Antonio


Two pieces of original Will Eisner PS Magazine artwork have been acquired by Special Collections and Archives of James Branch Cabell Library, part of VCU Libraries at Virginia Commonwealth University. The most significant piece is the first two pages of a six page “Joe Dope” comic spread about the importance of troubleshooting maintenance problems that appeared in the #223, April 1971 issue. The complete comic is drawn on scaled layout board with edits and corrections done by Eisner.  The second one is a small pencil sketch of a solemn looking soldier in full combat gear.

Will Eisner was already famous for his newspaper strip, The Spirit, by the time he was drafted into the Army during WWII.  He immediately put his creative talents to work in army publications, creating a character called Joe Dope, a bumbling solider used to tell cautionary tales about the importance of preventative maintenance.  After the war, the army wanted to design a publication dedicated to preventive maintenance that soldiers would actually want to read, and turned to Eisner's young company, American Visuals Corporation.  Each issue of PS Magazine consisted of a color comic book style cover, often designed and drawn by Eisner; eight full pages of four color comic continuity story in the middle; and the rest was filled with technical, safety, and policy information printed in two color to save money. The continuity story starred his earlier character and was called "Joe's Dope Sheet." Each episode offers the same cautionary tale: a soldier who ignores preventive maintenance learns of its importance in the end.  Eisner was the artistic director for PS Magazine from its inception in 1951 through 1972.

Will Eisner revolutionized the world of comic books twice, first with the 1939 comic The Spirit, a gritty urban crime fighter tale written for adult readers and distributed as a newspaper insert, then with his 1978 A Contract with God, and other Tenement Stories, one of the first modern graphic novels. In between, he and his company showed how comics could be used as popular educational tools.

The newly-acquired Eisner artwork is part of the Comic Arts Collection in Special Collections and Archives at James Branch Cabell Library. The collection consists of over 130,000 items, including nearly 40,000 comic books, along with graphic novels, editorial cartoons, comic strips, memorabilia, comic journals, fanzines, and a broad array of reference material. In collaboration with the PS Magazine Division of the U.S. Army, the Library offers a complete run of all Eisner issues – issues 1-229, as well as 3 special issues and 22 index issues – as part of its Digital Collections. In addition, Special Collections and Archives at James Branch Cabell Library is the repository for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards Archives.

-Submitted by: Cindy Jackson, Archival Assistant for Comic Arts, Special Collections and Archives, James Branch Cabell Library Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries

III. Comments from Draft of Guidelines for Reappraisal and Deaccessioning

If you’ve been following the work of the Reappraisal and Deaccessioning Development and Review Team (RD-DRT) you know that the Guidelines were open for public comment during 2011.  Approximately twenty-five individuals submitted comments.  Included below are comments from three individuals and the discussion and decisions that resulted from them.  Comments are included in this edition of the newsletter to make the standards-creation process more transparent; to provide examples of useful and constructive comments; and to encourage Section members to comment on future standards/guidelines.  To read the latest draft of the Guidelines for Reappraisal and Deaccessioning please visit:  Please note that this is a draft and has not been approved by SAA Council.  The RD-DRT plans to submit it for approval at the SAA Council meeting in May.  Questions about the Guidelines should be forwarded to

1. The following comment was submitted early in the comment and review process.  Changes made based on this comment appear in the most recent draft.

“I think that you have done a marvelous job distilling the literature on reappraisal and deaccessioning. The guidelines are clear and easy to understand. There are two inclusions that I think would strengthen the document: 1) a sample letter informing a donor of your intent to destroy a collection and 2) checklists for reappraisal and deaccession—there are samples in the appendix but I think that the committee should create a generic checklist for both types of tasks that match completely with the guidelines.” 

- Submitted by Gordon Daines

Results:  As for the first suggestion of a sample letter informing a donor of intent to destroy a collection, the RD-DRT decided not to include a letter addressing this.  However, we did choose to provide more information about sending letters (when, to whom, why, etc.) in Appendix B.  As for creating a checklist that matches the guidelines, we did take Gordon’s suggestion and do just this.  We removed the repository-specific checklists and created a checklist that matches the procedures step-by-step.

2. “I’m struggling with one major piece:  how any of us would characterize and use this with our administrators and donors.  I’m wondering if the introduction (or maybe a separate executive summary?) could include information that is less directed toward the profession alone and more inclusive of non-archival readers who need to understand and be persuaded of the importance of this best practice.  The Intro could also include a summary of the best practices described in the document.   This can be such a politically charged topic that any intro that would help educate non-archivists could be helpful.”

- Submitted by Margery Sly

Results: This comment led the task force to consider adding a document to the appendix that contained best practices and was written specifically for non-archivists such as donors and administrators.  After some consideration the RD-DRT decided that it would probably be too broad to be useful to most repositories.  The RD-DRT felt that, because the issues of donors and administrators are so varied, individual repositories could extract language and points from the document to create an executive summary that best matched their needs.  The RD-DRT also felt that the “Key Concepts” section of the document could be used for communicating major points with donors/administrators and the comment caused the group to take another look at “Key Concepts,” rename them to “Guiding Principles” and revise slightly.

3. “Another sentence needs to be added here [under Key Concept “Each step of the reappraisal and deaccessioning process needs to be thoroughly documented”] or perhaps in its own separate paragraph that repositories accepting material from another repository must also follow ethical guidelines that show that all the required deaccessioning documentation procedures have been followed.”

- Submitted by Tawny Ryan Nelb

 Results:The RD-DRT decided to add an additional Key Concept (now “Guiding Principle”) stating that reappraisal and deaccessioning are shared responsibilities.  We received other comments related to this principle, and felt it needed to be clearly stated up front.


IV. Announcements


Description: Increasingly, archival records are created in electronic formats. As a result, archives of all types need to be responsible for the preservation of electronic records. After a  review of the fundamental principles of archival appraisal and appraisal policies, you’ll be introduced to the unique issues that need to be addressed when appraising electronic records. Case studies will highlight the practical aspects of appraisal when dealing with electronic records.

Currently scheduled twice in 2012.  For more information please visit:


TULSA, OK. June 5 – 7, 2012. Program is not yet available. Learn more here:


Rochester, NY. June 6 – 8, 2012.  Program is not yet available. Learn more here:


Cape May, NJ. April 12 – 14, 2012. Program is not yet available. Learn more here:


V. Publications


  1. Michelle Caswell. “"Thank You Very Much, Now Give Them Back": Cultural Property and the Fight over the Iraqi Baath Party Records.” Pages 211-240.
  2. Marcus C. Robyns and Jason Woolman. “Institutional Functional Analysis at Northern Michigan University: A New Process of Appraisal and Arrangement of Archival Records.” pages 241-256. 


  1. Courtney C. Mumma, Glenn Dingwall, and Sue Bigelow. “A First Look at the Acquisition and Appraisal of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Fonds: or, SELECT * FROM VANOC _Records AS Archives WHERE Value=“true”;” pages 93-122. 


  1. Terry Cook. “’We are What we Keep; We Keep What We Are’: Archival Appraisal Past, Present, and Future.” Pages 173-189.