Saturday, June 20, 2009

Weekend With Shades - Saturday - June 20

A Monthly - Weekend With Shades - Column

Creating finding aids is a major part of my job, yet I always feel like they would take too many words to explain. Really, though, there is nothing complicated about a finding aid – at least in terms of what it is and what it is supposed to do. Currently, there are professional standards and best practices guidelines that define or prescribe what the structure and content of a finding aid should be, and this is what I think of when I think about finding aids. In getting bogged down in the details, I forget that finding aids are simply that: aids for finding stuff.

What finding aids do is tell you what is in a collection. Sometimes it might do this through item level lists, where each document is listed, but this takes a lot of time, which is why it is not the typical goal in these More Product, Less Process days. The original item level finding aid to the Oscar Wilde collection at my library was over 1000 pages – quite unwieldy to say the least. I’ve recently re-encoded and divided the original document into 5 smaller parts, hopefully making it a bit easier to navigate while still retaining all the hard work that librarians put into describing and typing out the information about every single item in the collection.


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