PDA Series: Librarians Across Disciplines: Mitigating Archival Chaos

Tuesday, October 13, 2020 - 1:00pm to 1:45pm

Presented by Caitlin Reeves, Archivist, Columbia Theological Seminary

Librarians across disciplines unexpectedly inherit archival collections and are often faced with supervising materials despite lack of expertise and training. This situation proves especially challenging for theological libraries because of the variety of materials these collections include. Ranging from ephemera and photographs, to diaries, bibles, and congregational records, these collections offer hidden resources that document local communities and organizational history. Taking the time to minimally organize these collections creates opportunities to connect with faculty and patrons, and supports institutional and alumni relationships.

This session seeks to equip librarians and library administrators with basic tools to gain control of archival collections. Particularly geared towards small theological libraries with minimal archival staff, we will discuss basic archival principles, and outline steps for inventorying, describing, and digitizing archival objects. Participants will leave with tasks that can be introduced into workflows to mitigate archival chaos. The realization that taking even the first step towards archival control will give attendees great confidence in tackling their “stuff” and advocating for institutional support.


  • Gain understanding of the importance of archival collections and the ways they can be leveraged to support institutional goals.
  • Obtain awareness of basic archival principles, including accessioning, arrangement and description, and processing.
  • Acquire a number of achievable tasks that incorporate archival control into diverse settings and workflows.

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Sponsored by Atla