The purpose of finding aids is to enable users to know what is in a
collection, and whether s/he might want to use it. Creating multiple
finding aids for different portions of the same collection would
require a user to look in multiple places for very closely related
items, and is likely to act as an impediment to discovery.
It is unclear from your message whether users would actually have to
go to a separate location (i.e., a different reading room) to request
and use the different portions of the same collection, or whether the
multiple locations are primarily of concern to staff who will be
paging the collection to the same reading room regardless of where it
In the former case, there might be an argument that users will be
assisted by knowing this far in advance; however, as archival
description (particularly EAD) is based on the principle of
provenance, I am hard pressed to imagine how artificially dividing
description of the same collection into multiple records would
enhance, rather than inhibit discovery.
The latter case is not at all uncommon in archives; in fact, it is not
uncommon for portions of collections to be stored in different
buildings altogether. However, the general practice is to keep this
information in a system that is primarily visible to staff, whether it
is a bound location register or a field in a descriptive database.
Users should be warned somewhere in the finding aid that portions of a
collection may take additional time to retrieve because of where they
are stored, perhaps that they should even call ahead. Beyond this,
however, it is generally unimportant to a researcher whether an item
that is served in the reading room is stored on the third or the
Muskie Archives & Special Collections
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Quoting Justin Lee Tyler <[log in to unmask]>:
> Hi all. I've been asked to make two (or more) separate finding aids
> for a single collection which is split into two (or more) locations
> (and by location, I mean different floors in the same building.)
> In other word, Stanton family papers might have two finding aids.
> One for the first half which is on level A, and one for the second
> half which is on level B... and so forth.
> 1) Is this common?
> 2) What would be the pros and cons of doing this?
> 3) Any additional thoughts?
> Let me know if I'm not being clear. :)
> Justin Lee Tyler
> Cataloger / Special Collections and GovDocs
> Bibliographic Division
> Detroit Public Library
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