[Archivesspace_Users_Group] Massive, flat collections

Hand, Sarit shand at ap.org
Fri Jun 23 14:14:57 EDT 2023


We have collections which are organized by subjects, names, and places, in alphabetical order. In some cases, it is within a series within a collection. All our resources are collection level records; therefore, the breakdown would be component records. We have done it in several ways, depending upon the collection, size, etc. We have created series and/or sub-series, and in some cases, we create a component record to represent what is in a container and give a span description, i.e. Crime - Development.  I would also consider to what level you want to describe. Do you want to locate content at the folder level, or is just knowing it is in a top container enough? If the Letter "A" spans several top containers, you can have one component record with multiple top containers, or you could break down by top container. This may make retrieval easier if a researcher can pinpoint the specific container. In this scenario, you could have A as a series, then have sub-series as child records describing the contents for the top container. If you want to identify the folders, depending upon the number of folders for the letters, you can further break it down by span, Bed - Bre, and then have child records that detail each folder subject, Bed, Bedroom, bet, bingo, bling, breakfast. Honestly, there are various ways to do this. Keep in mind, you can have multiple top container records associated with a record where each one indicates the box and a folder, even if the box is the same, the folder is different which is useful for subjects that may be found in multiple folders. You can also mix and match, where you list the subject matters and some subject matters have multiple top containers, and more than one subject may be in the same top container.

Series: Subject Files
>American  - Ethics, top container #1 because they are all in the same top container
>First Amendment - Persons: John Smith, one top container #2
>Photography - Vietnam, one top container #3
>Vietnam (con't) - West Virginia, top container #4
>Miscellaneous, top container #4 (note, same container as above)

Hope this makes sense and is helpful.

[cid:image001.png at 01D9A5D5.2DAD75E0]                                              [cid:image002.jpg at 01D9A5D5.2DAD75E0]
Sarit Hand                                                       200 Liberty St.
Digital Archivist                                               New York, NY 10281
Corporate Archives                                         T 212.621.7035

shand at ap.org
From: archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org <archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org> On Behalf Of Afro Charities Archives Staff
Sent: Thursday, June 22, 2023 4:35 PM
To: archivesspace_users_group at lyralists.lyrasis.org
Subject: [Archivesspace_Users_Group] Massive, flat collections


We're embarking on a project to create a finding aid for a newspaper morgue, which is a vertical file with likely over 150K folders arranged alphabetically by subject.

We know we need to break it up, and the time has come to decide exactly how. The most rational seems to be to use the alphabet. The number of boxes per letter ranges from 1 box (for Q) to 53 boxes (for M). Boxes seem to max out at around 200 folders.

What I'm pondering is whether to create a single resource with separate series for each letter, or whether to create individual resources for each letter. We've gotten advice to avoid having more than 5,000 AO's at the same level to avoid instability in the system, so we may need to break some of the bigger letters down further. We know to avoid using containers and locations as artificial collections.

Before we make these basic structural decisions and I thought I'd throw the question out there. Does anyone have experience working with large, non-hierarchical collections like this? Any advice or examples or lessons learned would be much appreciated.

Megan McShea

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