Accessioning is a core function in the archival enterprise, but one that is significantly less discussed and examined than other elements of work in archives. Stewardship responsibilities and collection management needs surfaced as top of mind concerns in our recent Research and Learning Agenda for Archives, Special, and Distinctive Collections, with accessioning specifically called out as an area of need for further work. Recognizing the role accessioning plays in larger discussions about backlogs, collection control, and optimal access to collections, and “in light of the lack of baseline physical, intellectual, and administrative control in our backlogs” the Agenda stated that “a clear reconceptualization of goals for and approach to accessioning is in order.”
To help address this need, we asked two colleagues in Accessioning Archivist roles at RLP Institutions with strong commitments to accessioning to reflect on their work as part of our Works in Progress webinar series last week. In their presentations, Rachel Searcy from NYU Libraries and Rosemary K.J. Davis from Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscript Library, shared valuable reflections drawn from their experience building and working within accessioning programs. I’ll summarize a few key points here but urge readers to watch the recording of the webinar to benefit from the nuance and insight of their full presentations.