Audiovisual (A/V) materials in archival collections require unique consideration during archival processing. Historically, A/V materials have often been underdescribed, or relegated to a “Multimedia” series at the end of a finding aid with little detail related to format, condition, or content. This article examines past approaches to processing audiovisual materials in archival collections through a review of the literature, open-source tools, and local processing manuals. This study includes two case studies, a high-level, department-wide survey and a large-scale, item-level inventory, and demonstrates the value of gaining intellectual control of A/V materials in the archives. The article argues that many legacy finding aids, including those created with a “minimal processing” approach, are often not detailed enough for the accurate, holistic evaluation necessary when planning for A/V preservation and digitization projects. The article concludes by describing the positive outcomes of reevaluating legacy finding aids and conducting an item-level accounting of A/V holdings.

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