Northeast Document
Conservation Center

Delray Beach, FL



"Case Study: Selection"

Selection of materials is a familiar process for most professionals who manage material culture collections. Archivists, librarians, and curators practice basic selection skills every day during, including appraisal for acquisition; determination of priority for salvage during an emergency; determination of priority for conservation or microfilming; and selection of contents for exhibitions and publications. Staff members also make intuitive decisions that significantly affect the life and accessibility of collection contents. Common factors weighed during these processes include whether the materials are appropriate to their repository mission and collections focus; appropriate to a broader focus that the repository is committed to; valuable in comparison to other materials held by the organization; restricted due to their legal status or donor wishes; greatly desired by a particular audience compared to other materials held by the organization; and relatively unavailable due to being in remote or cold storage, poor preservation condition, or an awkward size or format.

This presentation describes a simple three-step process for selection that takes the above factors into account. This selection process involves the institution's staff and its stakeholders, the collection creators, donors, researchers, managers, groups documented, and others, who nominate materials for conversion or indicate materials that should not be selected. Following nominations, a qualified team of professionals, the selection committee, weed out materials that should not be selected from the pool of nominated materials based upon a de-selection checklist and a review of the de-selection recommendations from stakeholders. Finally, the selection committee then selects and prioritizes materials from the remaining candidate materials based upon the materials value, use, and risk factors.


Northeast Document Conservation Center
100 Brickstone Square
Andover, MA 01810-1494
Telephone: (978) 470-1010
Fax: (978) 475-6021

Last Modified: April 13, 2001

Copyright 1996. Northeast Document Conservation Center.