Executive Summary

A. Definition

The archives serves as the institutional memory of the college or university and plays an integral role in the management of the institution's information resources in all media and formats. To fulfill the responsibilities of that role, the archives identifies, acquires, and maintains records of enduring value that chronicle the development of the institution and ensure its continued existence. The archives documents the process of institutional evolution by retaining both the evidence which shapes decisions and the decisions themselves.

B. Mission

The archives takes its mission from the mission of the institution, to educate:

  • by supporting and enabling the administration which provides and maintains the overall structure;
  • by determining what evidence is essential, ensuring that the institution creates such evidence, and making that evidence accessible to users regardless of location or format;
  • by preserving essential evidence of the institution;
  • by providing information that promotes the mission of the institution internally and to the extended community;
  • by supporting teaching and enhancing the curriculum as appropriate;
  • by supporting the research of the faculty, students, and other scholars through access to information;
  • by promoting further understanding through discovery and dissemination of knowledge.

C. Constituents

1. The archives primarily serves users throughout the institution.

a) Administrative units have ready access to the permanent record, which includes: 

  • documents in whatever form and from whatever time, which provide evidence of transactions and decisions essential to the functions of the institution, preserved on a stable environment for those offices which may require them (e.g., president's office, board of trustees, dean of students office, registrar, financial offices, facilities management, provost);
  • materials which define and enhance the image of the institution, essential to the activities of offices responsible for fundraising and outreach (e.g., advancement office, public relations, admissions);
  • materials and memorabilia which support significant interaction with past graduates (e.g., by the alumni/ae office, which is principally responsible for retaining those ties) by making available archival materials, which evoke as well as document the undergraduate and postgraduate experiences.

b) Students connect with the institution by learning about its history and placing themselves within that context. Access to archival materials that support curriculum and introduce them to the excitement and rigors of original research enhances their educational experience.

c) Faculty use the archives for research in collections that provide unique materials, which document the wide range of intellectual history; chronicle the contributions of individuals; and record processes as reflected in the records of the institution.

2. The Archives serves an extended community.

a) Alumni/ae maintain old ties and build new ones with their institution from ready access to the materials which document their connections. The archives refreshes their knowledge about the history and mission of the institution which are perceived by many alumni/ae as a significant factor in their development. The archives is, in addition, important as a place, relatively unchanging in the midst of constant change, to which they are able to return physically, to confirm their memories.

b) Researchers—those who are writing their first source paper in graduate school as well as established scholars with extensive publications—benefit from the richness and reliability of archival collections. By supporting an archival component within its educational mission, an institution can reach and serve a more broadly based research community.

D. Organizational Structure

An effective archival program requires a mandate from the president or governing board that authorizes the archivist to identify records of enduring value, document their physical location, preserve them, and establish methods of control that provide ready and consistent access to archival holdings.

To meet these criteria, the institution must provide resources that support the ongoing function of the program:

  • professional and support staff to manage and implement the program;
  • facilities to house staff and collections in a stable and secure environment;
  • financial resources to fund personnel, equipment, and supplies;
  • a technologically current environment.