Administrative Relationships

A. Mission

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

  • by supporting 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 faculty, students, and other scholars through access to information;
  • by promoting further understanding through discovery and dissemination of knowledge.

B. Goals

The basic goal of academic archives is to aid the institution in its survival and growth by supporting the institution's education mission. To fulfill the responsibilities of that role, archives share the following goals:

  • To acquire or identify records of long-term historical, evidential, legal, fiscal, and administrative value to the institution and to preserve and provide access to them so that the archives is visible as a resource that:
    —promotes knowledge and efficient operation of the institution which it serves,
    —supports and nourishes teaching and learning at that institution and in the wider intellectual community.

C. Implementation

Academic archives will fulfill their mission and goals by focusing both the tangible and service components of the program on meeting these responsibilities. This means that:

  • Acquisition decisions will be based on professional appraisal standards.
  • Arrangement and description of materials will employ responsible professional practices and adapt them appropriately to the needs and culture of the institution.
  • Facilities for storage, use, and service will provide a physical environment that protects the full range of the archives' record materials, and assures security from misuse and theft.
  • The archives' preservation, arrangement, and individual conservation procedures will employ current professional standards.
  • Staff will facilitate access to materials and provide information that will ensure teaching and learning to support the institution's operation.
  • Staff and records will constitute a resource which
    —promotes knowledge and understanding of the institution's origins, mission, and goals,
    —contributes to its ongoing development through a range of services and by fostering and facilitating records management and information resource programs.
  • Archives will publicize their resources to encourage their use by members of the institution and by the intellectual community beyond it to
    —support the curriculum,
    —stimulate teaching,
    —serve research, scholarship and intellectual exploration.
  • Archival programs will
    —remain flexible in adapting to the rapidly changing institutional environment,
    —maintain a technologically current environment.

D. Administrative Authorization

A document authorizing the archives' existence and conferring the authority to accomplish its mission should define the archives program. The authorizing document should have the official approval of the highest appropriate governing official, such as the president or chancellor, and governing body, such as the board of trustees, administrators, or regents of the institution. This authorizing document provides the rationale, focus, authority, and continuity for the archives program.

While administrative placement, structure, and governance will reflect institutional differences and cultures, the status of the archives program should reflect the following considerations:

  • This authorizing document should define institutional records, establish them as institutional property, and designate a single, central archives as their long-term repository or access point whether the institution occupies one or a number of campuses;
  • The authorizing document should establish the archivist's authority to undertake all activities necessary to serve the program's mission according to current professional standards. The document should provide the authority to survey records, including those considered confidential, and determine their appropriate transfer from offices and departments;
  • The administrative structure should provide the resources to maintain adequate personnel, facilities, equipment, and security levels to enable the archives to fulfill its current responsibilities to the institution and to keep pace with evolving technology and other changes;
  • The administrative location and status of the archives should be unambiguous to permit effective interaction and cooperation with other units within the institution;
  • The administrative structure should facilitate service to the archives' diverse constituents.

E. Personnel

Academic archives require appropriate professional and support personnel to manage a viable archival program. There should be a flexible administrative structure which allows fiscal and personnel adjustments to meet growth and changes of archival functions. Personnel should have the authority to accomplish the range of responsibilities and services that meet the archival program's established goals. Position descriptions, educational requirements, and scholarly credentials should reflect current professional standards.

1. Professional staff.

Professional staff should include a full-time, permanent director who is a professional archivist with strong professional credentials, such as certification. The director should have strong management skills for effective interaction with administrators, faculty, students, alumni, and the public. Because of their broad responsibilities, directors should have an administrative rank that provides authority to carry out the program's mission.

Additional professional staff may include other archivists, professionals with advanced degrees in related fields (e.g., preservation, library science, records management, or relevant academic disciplines), and consultants with credentials and experience in any of these areas.

2. Support staff.

Support staff should include paraprofessionals or nonacademic staff to provide reference, technical, and administrative assistance. These staff members must be able to handle minimal reference and supervisory duties when the archivist is absent, as well as having demonstrated technological and organizational skills.

Active archival programs in both the large and small institutions will need additional full-time and part-time personnel. Institutional factors and preferences will determine specific functions and position descriptions, but may include some of the following:

  • Professional staff, employed as assistant or associate archivists, who are specialists in an archival field and can act for the director when the latter is absent and handle appraisal, public service (reference), arrangement and description, preservation, and outreach responsibilities;
  • Processing/technical support staff assigned to prepare archival acquisitions and access tools for administrative and reference use may also handle public services that do not involve policy making, as well as plan and prepare exhibits;
  • Reading room attendants, if the volume of activity requires, should have the requisite interpersonal skills for public service. Processors or full-time administrative personnel may assume reading room duties and supervision on a rotating basis;
  • Administrative staff will have primary responsibility for operational activities, including office management, correspondence, archives' administrative files, and other duties facilitated by technical proficiency including word processing and database management;
  • Student workers, working under adequate supervision, will fill varied roles, depending on the practices of the archives program. Students may retrieve, file, and reshelve materials, or process non-sensitive materials. Students can also perform duplication duties and support access to materials through new technologies;
  • With adequate supervision, volunteers may serve flexibly in many capacities, including performing receptionist duties, serving as processing assistants, providing clerical support, and directing outreach activities such as exhibits;
  • Interns being trained in professional school programs can be useful in the archives to perform archival, clerical, and public service duties. Because of the necessity for adequate coordination of program guidelines and supervision, use of student interns will depend on the commitment of the program director and professional staff.

F. Justification for Expanding Archival Programs

Academic archives may be called upon to justify their existence, promote their programs, and work toward expanding them. One way to evaluate program needs and areas for improvement and growth is to regularly gather data such as the:

  • Public service activities including the number and complexity of inquiries;
  • Number of reference requests and/or daily registrations;
  • Volume and nature of additions to the collection;
  • Frequency and complexity of records management responsibilities including records inventories and analysis, and scheduling;
  • Volume and complexity of inaccessible records and those which do not need professional standards;
  • Expanding outreach activities, including institutional celebrations, and fundraising activities;
  • Impact of technological changes on demands for archival services and the program's ability to meet those needs.