16 · Survey Results: Executive Summary
finding aids, while others indicate that patrons use
the online finding aids on computers in their reading
rooms some institutions provide access to both in the
reading room.
Training for Online Manuscript Activities
Not surprisingly, most manuscripts staff are simply
learning as they go. Clearly, some are learning more
than others. When asked what kind of training or
education opportunities staff use, 98% checked “on-
the-job training.” Other popular answers included
peers, professional association-sponsored workshops,
library school, electronic discussion lists, conferences,
and professional journals and readings.
Organization for Online Manuscript Activities
When asked if their library had reorganized to pro-
vide manuscripts information online, the majority
(52 or 84%) said they had simply incorporated these
activities into their existing areas without making
any name changes to the unit, department, or li-
brary. Only two libraries (3%) actually changed the
name of their department to reflect these changes. A
large number (35 or 57%) answered that job descrip-
tions were adjusted to include these activities even if
the organization did not make any formal changes.
Twenty-seven (44%) also indicated that their staff
members receive assistance from other departments
to complete these tasks.
Respondents’ comments about online manuscript
activities that are distributed across the institution in-
dicate that manuscripts staff are working with people
in other units or departments, which may or may
not be part of the same administrative structure, to
get information onto the Web. These include depart-
ments or units whose functions include cataloging,
metadata services, systems, IT, and digital services.
One respondent said it this way:
Primary responsibility for the organiza-
tion and description of manuscript collections
resides in Special Collections &University
Archives, and we routinely create and move
online essentially all html finding aids. We
coordinate closely with a Central Technical
Services (CTS) Department when record-build-
ing intersects with the general library OPAC,
and we coordinate closely with the Digital
Library Services (DLS) unit when undertaking
CONTENTdm initiatives. All of these activities
can be properly thought of as ‘manuscript ac-
tivities.’ Depending on the specific project, CTS,
DLS, and/or Special Collections staff may be in-
volved in scanning and providing metadata. It
is a much more fluid world than it used to be!
Challenges of Getting Manuscript Collection
Information Online
When asked to provide three challenges faced in
getting manuscript information on the Web, most
respondents gave what were expected and unsur-
prising answers. One person’s replies sum up these
answers: “staff: not enough “time: not enough and
“money: not enough.” Many of the responses were
similarly succinct. Others, however, provided more
specific information about just what suffers from
this lack of resources. Without sufficient resources
to meet modern demands, respondents find that they
sometimes have to choose between processing collec-
tions, new and old, and making information available
on the Web. With only one or two people available
to work on these projects, both may suffer. They are
forced to make a choice: process collections or make
something available on the Web. Which is more im-
portant, processing collections or providing access to
them? There is no clear answer to this question.
Archivists face a recurring problem in making
realistic and useful decisions regarding their legacy
finding aids answers to this survey show this to be a
big problem for some respondents. There are several
potential challenges in dealing with these legacy
finding aids. One challenge is that they do not fol-
low the current content standards. Should they go
up anyway so that at least there is information about
the collections available to researchers? Not only do
respondents report that their legacy finding aids don’t
adhere to standards like DACS, but they also report
that their legacy finding aids provide item-level in-
formation that makes it difficult to convert to modern
Previous Page Next Page