AACR2: Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, Second Edition. A standard for creating catalogs of collections,

especially library collections, including the consistent description of those materials and the formation and assignment of access points under which those descriptions are arranged.

Access: The ability to make use of material from a fonds, usually subject to rules and conditions.

Access Copy: Compressed surrogate of born-digital or digitized documents made available for researchers via internet or on a shared drive.

Access Point: A name, term, keyword, phrase or code that may be used to search, identify and locate

archival descriptions, including authority records. (ISAAR)

Accession: Materials physically and legally transferred to a repository as a unit at a single time; an

acquisition. To take legal and physical custody of a group of records or other materials and to formally document their receipt. To document the transfer of records or materials in a register, database, or other log of the repository's holdings.

Appraisal: The process of identifying materials offered to an archives that have sufficient value to be

accessioned. In an archival context, appraisal is the process of determining whether records and

other materials have permanent (archival) value. Appraisal may be done at the collection, creator, series, file, or item level. Appraisal can take place prior to donation and prior to physical transfer, at or after accessioning.

The basis of appraisal decisions may include a number of factors, including the records' provenance and content, their authenticity and reliability, their order and completeness, their condition and costs to preserve them, and their intrinsic value. Appraisal often takes place within a larger institutional collecting policy and mission statement.

Analog: Analog is typically distinguished from digital, which represents a process through a sequence of

discrete measurements over time. Examples of analog formats include photographs and films made with light-sensitive media, NTSC and PAL video recordings, and phonograph records and older magnetic sound recordings on tape.

Archival structure: The administrative context and functionality of records, especially as reflected in the

records' form and organization.

Archival value: The ongoing usefulness or significance of records, based on the administrative, legal, fiscal,

evidential, or historical information they contain, justifying their continued preservation. Also known as permanent value, continuing value, enduring value, and, mostly outside the United States, indefinite value.

Authority record: An entry in an authority file that contains information about the preferred form of a name

or subject heading.


Book call number: the combination of Dewey numbers and the first 3 letters of the author’s name (or title),

that (besides its content) indicates the position of the book on the shelf. May also include volume number and oversize information.

Born-digital: Information created in electronic format.


Copy-cataloging: With regards to library cataloging. A machine-readable record exists. The cataloger

uploads the record via Z39.50 protocol, modifies it for local use, and adds copy information to it. Some records may have been created by other standards (pre-MARC and pre-AACR records). The cataloger creates new standard records by transcribing them.

Curator: Content specialist charged with an institution's collections and involved with the interpretation of heritage material.

Custodian: The individual or organization having possession of and responsibility for the care and control of material.


Derivatives: Different surrogates of the born-digital or digitized materials created for different purposes. Usually derivative 1 (D1) is the preservation copy, derivative 2 (D2) is the access copy, and derivative 3 (D3) is for previews and thumbnails.

Descriptive metadata: Information that refers to the intellectual content of material and aids discovery of

such materials.

Dissemination: Providing access to digital archival content via internet or other pathway.

Donor: An individual or organization who gives property or money to another without reciprocal



EAD (Encoded Archival Description): A standard used to markup (encode) finding aids that reflects the

hierarchical nature of archival collections and that provides a structure for describing the whole of a collection, as well as its components.


Finding aid: The broadest term to cover any description or means of reference made or received by an

archives service in the course of establishing administrative or intellectual control over archival material.

Folder: A sheet of cardboard or heavy paper that is used as a loose cover to keep documents and other flat materials

together, especially for purposes of filing; a file cover. -- Computing -- A directory structure that organizes files into groups; a directory or subdirectory.

Fonds: The whole of the records, regardless of form or medium, organically created and/or accumulated

and used by a particular person, family or corporate body in the course of that creator’s activities and functions.

Form: A class of documents distinguished on the basis of common physical (e.g., water colour,

drawing) and/or intellectual (e.g., diary, journal, day book, minute book) characteristics of

a document, e.g. letter, book, article, film

Notes: Form is synonymous with format1, although this equivalence is a fairly recent shift in the language. Form is often used to distinguish between versions of an item in different media; for example, a document may be described as being in its original form, a microform, or a duplicate form.) (SAA Glossary)

Format: A standard size or configuration; the layout of a document. The physical, technical and

intellectual of the record/unit of description. Synonymous with form and the use of this sense is a

fairly recent shift in the language.

A structure used for the interchange, storage, or display of data (computing).


Genre: A distinctive type of literary or artistic materials, usually characterized by style or function rather

than subject, physical characteristics, or form.

Notes: Typical examples of genres include correspondence and contracts. The subject matter and form of a genre may be quite varied. For example, a contract may relate to work done for hire, the loan of materials, or purchase of materials. Those contracts may be take the form of personalized letters or boilerplate documents and may be preprinted forms or holographs.


Indexing: The process of creating an ordered list of concepts, expressed as terms or phrases, with pointers to the place in indexed material where those concepts appear.

Intellectual Appraisal: Evaluation of an archival corpus according to its content and logical structure.

ISAAR-CPF: International Standard for Archival Authority Records: Corporate, Personal, Families. A

standard published by the International Council on Archives to establish controls for the creation and use of access points in archival descriptions and to identify the kinds of information that should used to describe a corporate body, person, or family.

Also referred to as ‘ISAAR’ or ‘ISAAR records’.

ISAD(G): General International Standard for Archival Description. A standard published by the

International Council on Archives that establishes general rules for the description of archival materials, regardless of format, to promote consistent and sufficient descriptions, and to facilitate exchange and integration of those descriptions.

ISO: International Organization for Standardization. A membership organization that works with national

standards organizations from more than 140 countries to promote and coordinate the development of international standards.


Koha: the first open source Integrated Library System (ILS), used worldwide by public, school and special

libraries. The name comes from a Māori term for a gift or donation.


Legal Appraisal: Assessment of specific legal implications of copying and online disseminating parts of the archival holding.

Legal Metadata: Information governing access, copyright and ownership of archival holdings and items.


Macro-appraisal: A theory of appraisal that assesses the value of records based on the role of the record

creators, placing priority on why the records were created (function), where they were created (structure), and how they were created, rather than content (informational value).

Medium: The physical material, container, and/or carrier in or on which information is recorded

(i.e., clay tablet, papyrus, paper, parchment, film, magnetic tape). The physical material that serves as the carrier for information.

Notes: Medium refers to the thing that bears the information, as distinguished from the base1. For example, in printing, the ink is the medium and the paper is the base. In videotape, the magnetic material that holds the signal is the media, and the polyester film is the base. - Medium is frequently used when describing artworks; for example, oil on canvas or mixed media. - An example of medium is linseed oil, which is used in oil paint.

MARC21: Machine Readable Cataloging. Originally MARC21 was known as MARC, which became

USMARC in the 1980s and MARC 21 in the late 1990s.

Metadata: A characterization or description documenting the identification, management, nature, use, or

location of information resources (data).

There are several types of metadata including descriptive, administrative, technical, preservation,


Metadata Scheme: Metadata elements grouped into sets designed for describing archival collections.


Normalization (metadata ~): The process of adjustment of metadata elements according to rules governing the style of metadata sets.


Original cataloging: With regards to library cataloging. No machine-readable record is available. The cataloger creates a new master record according to current cataloging standards and practices.


Physical Appraisal: Evaluation of the archival collection according to its physical condition.

PID (Permanent Identifier): Numeric code for digital items ensuring uniqueness and identification.

Preservation: Protecting materials from deterioration by rehousing them, removing contaminants, providing

treatments, and other means. Preservation is an ongoing process that typically begins soon after the collection is acquired.

Preservation Copy: Special derivative (usually derivative 1, D1) of a digital object in a lossless format ensuring long-term accessibility of the item.

Provenance: The origin or source of something; information regarding the origins, custody, and ownership

of an item or collection.

Notes: Provenance is a fundamental principle of archives, referring to the individual, family, or organization that created or received the items in a collection. The principle of provenance or the respect des fonds dictates that records of different origins (provenance) be kept separate to preserve their context.


Respect des fonds: to group, without mixing them with others, the archives (documents of every kind)

created by or coming from an administration, establishment, person, or corporate body. This grouping is called the fonds of the archives of that administration, establishment or person"


Series: Documents arranged in accordance with a filing system or maintained as a unit because they result

from the same accumulation or filing process, or the same activity; have a particular form; or because of some other relationship arising out of their creation, receipt, or use.

Sub-fonds: A subdivision of a fonds containing a body of related records corresponding to administrative

subdivisions in the originating agency or organization or, when that is not possible, to geographical, chronological, functional, or similar groupings of the material itself. When the creating body has a complex hierarchical structure, each sub-fonds has as many subordinate sub-fonds as are necessary to reflect the levels of the hierarchical structure of the primary subordinate administrative unit.

Supplied title: A title given by the archivist for a unit of description which has no formal title. Also known as

‘given title’.


Unit of description: A document or aggregation of documents in any physical form, treated as an entity

and forming the basis of a single description. Also referred to as 'unit of archival description'.


Vital records: Records that document significant life events, including births, deaths, marriages, divorces,

and public health matters; vital statistics.

Written by Emily Hanlon on Thursday August 25, 2016 - updated on Friday August 26, 2016