n.a methodology that guides selection and assures retention of adequate information about a specific geographic area, a community, a topic, a process, or an event that has been dispersed throughout societySamuels 1986, 109A modern, complex, information-rich society requires that archivists reexamine their role as selectors. The changing structure of modern institutions and the use of sophisticated technologies have altered the nature of records, and only a small portion of the vast documentation can be kept. Archivists are challenged to select a lasting record, but they lack techniques to support this decision-making. Documentation strategies are proposed to respond to these problems.Samuels 1986, 116A documentation strategy consists of four activities: (1) choosing and defining the topic to be documented, (2) selecting the advisors and establishing the site for the strategy, (3) structuring the inquiry and examining the form and substance of the available documentation, and (4) selecting and placing the documentation.Hackman and Warnow-Blewett 1987, 14A documentation strategy is a plan to assure the adequate documentation of an ongoing issue, activity, function, or subject. The strategy is ordinarily designed, promoted, and in part implemented by an ongoing mechanism involving archival documentation creators, records administrators, archivists, users, other experts, and beneficiaries and other interested parties. The documentation strategy is carried out through the mutual efforts of many institutions and individuals influencing the creation and management of records and the retention and archival accessioning of some of them. The strategy is regularly refined in response to changing conditions as reflected in available information, expertise, and opinions. Strategies may be developed at levels ranging from worldwide and nationwide to statewide and communitywide.Endelman 1987, 351Hackman himself is a proponent of documentation strategy, a methodology to systematize collecting and ensure the documentation of an ongoing issue, activity, or geographic area. While collection analysis represents an attempt to rationalize the collecting process for a single institution, documentation strategy focuses on multi-institutional collecting. In a documentation strategy, records custodians, museum curators, librarians, records users and creators, and other interested parties come together to examine both the structure and history of a subject or region and their perceptions of the quantity and quality of existing documentation.Cox 1990, 20The term “documentation strategy” was coined and initially defined at a session of the 1984 Society of American Archivists meeting that included papers presented by Helen W. Samuels, Larry J. Hackman, and Patricia Aronnson. The origins of the concept date from the early and mid-1970s efforts by some archivists to grapple with documenting social movements, minority issues, popular concerns, and other topics that were not well-represented in most archival and historical records repositories.Child 1990, 254Documentation strategy can be very useful as a mechanism for making preservation decisions within the widest possible context. . . . It is difficult to conceptualize documentation strategies that are national in scope. But repositories serving clearly defined and limited political, geographic, or economic regions, as well as those dedicated to specific subject areas might well begin to try to articulate more systematically the major themes on which they collect and to develop documentation strategies for them. This should include setting priorities for the documentation to be preserved.Abraham 1991, 45The distinction between traditional appraisal techniques and documentation strategies can be generally stated: appraisal refers to the evaluation of specific papers; a documentation strategy is applied more broadly. . . . At its best, documentation strategy places the acquisition of archival materials on a theoretical basis and suggests methodologies that extend the concept of collection development policies.Boles 2005, 21Documentation strategy was based on the observation that no single institution could accomplish the immense task of documenting society alone. Cooperation was essential.Malkmus 2008, 386Documentation strategy presents a cooperative approach to the acquisition problem, recommending that efforts to document a topic or area of activity begin with a study by a group of experts, records creators, archivists, and users.Punzalan 2014, 328Perhaps the development of documentation strategy encapsulates many desires for a more coordinated and comprehensive way of bringing distributed materials into archives. The approach points to the benefits of interinstitutional collaboration, linking of related materials, and creation of a coherent collection development strategy.Daniels et al. 2015, 247As the LUMA team met to talk about how to approach this undertaking, it became clear that documentation strategy would be appropriate, and we adopted many features of this methodology. For instance, we gathered an advisory board to guide us, provide advice, and use their positions within the community to advocate for the project. We invited local musicians, record store and record label owners, and other integral members of the Louisville music scene to join the board. We also sought academics and those outside academia with experience and interest in the study of music as a cultural and historical phenomenon. While the roles of musicians and those in the local “industry” are somewhat obvious, we were also concerned with collecting materials that would be useful to historians and ethnomusicologists and were aware that these groups’ needs might overlap without being completely congruent. These different constituencies would also allow us to reach into different disciplines for the sake of sharing information about our holdings.
Documentation strategies are typically undertaken by collaborating records creators, archives, and users. A key element is the analysis of the subject to be documented; how that subject is documented in existing records, and information about the subject that is lacking in those records; and the development of a plan to capture adequate documentation of that subject, including the creation of records, if necessary.