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Literature Survey: Oliver W. Holmes Revisited: Levels of Arrangement and Description in Practice

Terry Abraham
The American Archivist
Vol. 54, No. 3 (Summer, 1991), pp. 370-377
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40293575
Page Count: 8
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Literature Survey: Oliver W. Holmes Revisited: Levels of Arrangement and Description in Practice
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Abstract

Oliver W. Holmes propounded the concept of archival levels of arrangement in his 1964 article, "Five Levels of Arrangement," which described practices at the National Archives. Over the years the concept has been elevated to a theoretical construct and has been extended to include description as well as arrangement. However, descriptive systems that actually apply the concepts of levels of arrangement and description have been few and far between. Neither standard reporting to the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections nor the development of the MARC Archival and Manuscripts Control format have furthered the integration of description at differing levels. Holmes's levels seem to have had little impact on the development of automated archival systems. Has the theory been invalidated or just denied?

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