JTF-HCM Guidelines 2018: Audience and Purpose


These guidelines were developed to provide archivists and special collections librarians with a set of practical, well-defined counts and measures that can be used to quantify and communicate holdings information. The counts and measures were also formulated to support the aggregation of holdings information from multiple repositories. It was beyond the charge of the task force that developed these guidelines, however, to create either a survey instrument or a data repository.


Careful attention was given to formulating the counts and measures so that any type of repository that manages and provides access to archival and special collections material -- including academic, corporate, and government archives; public and independent research libraries; and historical societies -- can use the counts and measures to quantify holdings in a manner that is consistent with their application by other repositories. The counts and measures were also designed so that repositories of any size and with any level of financial, human, and/or technological resources can implement them.


Careful attention was also given to developing guidelines that consider and address both the wide range of types and formats of collection material typically held and the different ways collection material is managed and described. The guidelines also recognize the value of an approach to quantifying holdings information that accommodates both recommended and optional counts and measures.


The guidelines do not suggest or recommend any particular methods or even best practices regarding the “hows” of counting or measuring. One of the goals of the guidelines is to encourage the use of a common language for sharing information about holdings, rather than to prescribe a methodology for obtaining that information. Another is to enable their use by a wide variety of repositories, and to account for the many differences that exist among those repositories, especially those having to do with local practices (for accessioning, describing, and managing collection material); available resources (for counting, measuring, generating reports, etc.); and existing systems and sources of information (including integrated library systems, content management systems, databases, and archival collection management systems).


Finally, it is hoped that the existence of these guidelines will encourage the emergence of communities of practice through which groups of archivists and special collections librarians who are using the guidelines to quantify and communicate holdings information document their experience and interact regularly with the goal of developing and sharing best practices.


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