Wiki-based archival description and storage/Description

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Archival description is the process that takes place while records are being prepared for storage. In wiki-based archiving, this process can happen at every stage from before accession through to the on-going access of the records. It is an iterative process, in which descriptions are progressively refined as time goes on.

Each act of description is, in one sense, the same: a single wiki page is created, and on it as much information as possible is recorded about the item (where an 'item' can also be a grouping of various records). A page can also contain images, photographs, and videos, as well as links to more detailed descriptions. The most important things to describe are: where it has come from (provenance) and how it was originally stored (original order), as well as what has been done with it now and where it can be found (both online and off).

One advantage of every level of description being done in this way is that this creates a unique and meaningful identifier for what is being described: the URL of the wiki page. For instance, the first page that is created is one for the archive as a whole — upon which, the archive has a home page on the Internet, and a globally-unique way of being referenced.

Procedure[edit]

From the top-level wiki page of the archive (which may be the main page, or any other page), create a high-level list of the parts of the archive. Each part should be a link to another wiki page, and then each of those pages will have a further list of the items contained therein.

You should create pages for the archive itself and all of its constituent parts — from the points of view of the original order and provenance of the items, as well as the current arrangement and storage.

Provenance[edit]

The first set of pages to be created will be those describing the origin of the archive's contents. These will take the form of descriptions and lists of the boxes, folders, datasets, and other sources of the contents.

These pages are the first places that the scans, photographs, and other documentation will be added to.

Subject[edit]

The second set of pages to add to the wiki are those that group the above items by subject. So, for example, there will be pages listing all items pertaining to an individual person, or locality, as well as groupings by medium (book, photograph, etc.).

Storage[edit]

The last aspect of description comes after the storage of the items, because it involves the documentation of the final storage locations (including on the Internet) of all items.

These wiki pages are also printed and kept alongside the physically-stored items, in order for the items to be linked back to the wiki contents. Each printed page has a URL at the bottom linking to the specific revision of that page as it was when it was printed.