Can a Large Federal Agency’s Extensive Archival Backlog be Preserved on a Nationwide Scale?
When the Washington Support Office (WASO) of the National Park Service (NPS) needed outside help to consistently process and catalog a massive backlog of archival collections across dozens of sites throughout the country, they called upon the experienced team of archivists employed by HAI.
Many NPS sites maintain archival collections containing important historical and operational records about the sites that support their resource and cultural management activities. But not all sites possess archives large enough to justify keeping a permanent archivist on staff, which results in collections remaining unprocessed and inaccessible. Those sites with large archives and/or staff archivists often lack sufficient resources to allow its staff to focus their efforts exclusively on tackling the extensive backlogs, meaning they were drowning in papers. By the early 2000s, WASO recognized that an outside firm could assign a team of archivist to the many sites in need of help with their archival backlogs.
Preserving Diverse Collections
Since 2001 HAI has provided archives preservation services to more than sixty NPS sites as part of many different contracts. We have worked with NPS professionals to reduce their archival backlog, following NPS policies and procedures and using its software. Over the years our engagements with the NPS have involved performing the following tasks: conducting surveys, writing processing plans and records management file plans, cataloging books and photographs, and processing and cataloging collections, and conducting surveys. HAI archivists have consistently displayed the flexibility to meet each site’s needs and develop custom products which bring the archival collections of the NPS to light.
Through numerous contracts, multiple site visits, and invaluable collaboration with NPS personnel at WASO and the respective sites, HAI has surveyed over 12,000 linear feet of archival collections as well as processed and cataloged nearly 7,000 linear feet according to each site’s specific requirements. The NPS has made significant progress in reducing its archival backlog, thereby ensuring that the valuable historical information their collection contain are available to users.
National Park Service Archival Preservation:
- 70 unique park sites
- 12,000+ linear feet surveyed