Processing backlogs continue to be a problem for archivists, and yet the problem is exacerbated by many of the traditional approaches to processing collections that archivists continue to practice. This research project reviewed the literature on archival processing and conducted surveys of processing practices to identify the scope of the problem and its impacts both on processing costs and on access to collections. The paper issues a call for archivists to rethink the way they process collections, particularly large contemporary collections. It challenges many of the assumptions archivists make about the importance of preservation activities in processing and the arrangement and description activities necessary to allow researchers to access collections effectively.

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