Arrangement and Description of Electronic Records

On February 23, 2015, in Research, by Chris Prom

Over the next few days, I’ll be updating the curriculum for the Society of American Archivists DAS course, “Arrangement and Description of Electronic Records,” (ADER) which I developed several years ago.   Ania Jaroszek from the SAA Eduction Office tells me the course has been taught 17 times since May 2012  and that it is scheduled for an additional four offerings between now and September, making this a good time to undertake a thorough update.

The ADER course seeks to put into practice the philosophy that led me to start this site in the first place: to demystify digital preservation techniques as they apply to archival practice, facilitating practical methods and steps that can be applied in any archival repository.

From my perspective, the best thing about teaching the course has been the sense of community that it seeks to engender.   Sure, the course provides everyone who attends some practical and achievable steps you take to get digital materials under intellectual and ‘physical’ control.  But more than that, it offers an opportunity to think deeply and to learn from each other, to grow in a common understanding of what it means to be an archivist in the digital age.

That goes as much for me as it does for course attendees.  Every time I teach, I come away with new ideas to implement at the University of Illinois and to make the course an even better experience the next time I teach it.

In this respect, I’ve integrated many direct suggestions from participants over the years, as well as some tool guides provided by Carol Kussman.  In addition, Sam Meister and Seth Shaw, the other course instructors, have helped improve the course in meaningful ways.  Over time, we’ve worked on incorporate more and more active learning concepts and activities into the two days we spend together, since we don’t believe people learn all that much just by hearing us talk non-stop for two days!

Over the next week, we’ll be doing a larger-than-normal update to the course materials, using tips from many course participants.  I’ll be teaching this version of the course for the first time at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.  For those of you looking to enhance your skills in a wonderful setting–it is not too late to register, the early bird deadline is March 1st.

Specifically, we’ll be making the following enhancements to the course:

  • Increasing emphasis on tool demonstration and use–integrating more direct demonstrations and directed use in small groups
  • Revising tool lists and providing a tool selection grid.
  • Introducing additional community building elements (collaboration spaces)
  • Adding a processing workflow demonstration and discussion
  • Improving the overall class ‘flow’ by tracking specific arrangement and description tasks to a model workflow
  • Adding new (and better!) sample collections to use in day two exercises (1) planning to process, (2) arranging records, and (3) describing records

Updated 2/28/2015:  I’ll also be adding in the following enhancements.

  • Provide overview of the class on day one, so people know what is covered on day one and on day two at the outset–put in slides.  (e.g. get to day two)
  • Provide additional examples of the AIP structure showing a few different options.
  • Add content to address accruals and deaccessioning
  • Discuss processing of disk images as it relates specifically to processing

All of these suggestions were provided directly by prior participants.  In this respect, and in many others, the course is a true collaborative effort of the Society, putting into practice SAA’s core organizational values.    Hope you can join me in Hawai’i–but if not, ADER is scheduled to be taught three more times between now and September–and it can be hosted elsewhere.  SAA lists its many fine educational offerings on its education calendar.