collective description

n.A technique of cataloging related items as a unified whole in a single record.


Collective description is distinguished from item-level description, which attempts to describe materials individually. Given the size of archival collections, item-level description is impractical except for the most important materials. Collective description proceeds from the general to the specific, starting with the collection as a whole, then describing groups and subgroups, series and subseries, and sometimes folders within the collection.