JTF-HCM Guidelines 2018: Background



Archivists and special collections librarians are becoming increasingly mindful of the need to gather, analyze, and share evidence concerning the value of the collections we hold, the effectiveness of the operations we manage, and the impact of the services we provide. The absence of commonly accepted definitions, metrics, guidelines, and best practices, however, has impeded our ability to undertake meaningful assessment activities and to engage in productive, cross-repository conversations about our collections, operations, and services.

Recognition of these challenges has manifested itself in a number of ways in recent years, including the 2010 publication of Taking Our Pulse: The OCLC Research Survey of Special Collections and Archives; an assessment-themed issue of RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage (13:2, Fall 2012), published by the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL); assessment-related sessions at the meetings of allied professional associations, including the Society of American Archivists (SAA), American Library Association (ALA), and ACRL’s Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS); presentations centered on special collections at the biennial Library Assessment Conference sponsored by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL); and grant-supported initiatives led by ACRL, ARL, and other organizations aimed at building and fostering cultures of assessment and demonstrating the value that libraries and archives bring to their communities and to society at large.


Within this context, SAA and ACRL/RBMS constituted a joint task force in 2014 and charged it with developing guidelines that will provide definitions and best practices for quantifying the holdings of archival repositories and special collections libraries. The SAA-ACRL/RBMS Joint Task Force on the Development of Standardized Holdings Counts and Measures for Archival Repositories and Special Collections Libraries consisted initially of ten members, five appointed by SAA and five by ACRL/RBMS, including co-chairs representing each organization. Members were appointed for two-year terms, which were renewed in 2016 for an additional year. Six members agreed to serve for a fourth year.

Representing SAA:

  • Emily R. Novak Gustainis (Harvard University) (co-chair) (2014 - 2018)
  • Adriana Cuervo (Rutgers University) (2014 - 2017)
  • Angela Fritz (University of Notre Dame) (2014 - 2017)
  • Lisa Miller (Stanford University) (2014 - 2018)
  • Cyndi Shein (University of Nevada Las Vegas) (2014 - 2017)

Representing ACRL/RBMS:

  • Martha O’Hara Conway (University of Michigan) (co-chair) (2014 - 2018)
  • Alvan Bregman (Queen’s University) (2014 - 2016)
  • Rachel D’Agostino (Library Company of Philadelphia) (2014 - 2018)
  • Lara Friedman-Shedlov (University of Minnesota) (2014 - 2018)
  • Elizabeth Haven Hawley (University of Florida) (2016 - 2018)
  • Katy Rawdon (Temple University) (2014 - 2017)

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