In recent years several archivists have challenged the profession's approach to collection development as being haphazard, uncoordinated, and random. Collection analysis, the evaluation of the characteristics of a repository's holdings, attempts to systematize and bring more planning to the collecting process. Between 1980 and 1986 three midwestern state historical repositories conducted collection analysis studies—the Minnesota Historical Society, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, and Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan. Staff members analyzed the manuscript holdings to determine what topics their collections documented, and in what number. The quantified data was reviewed in detail and eventually resulted in the development of new collecting priorities and strategies. The analysis was a useful managerial tool that brought greater consciousness to the collecting process. Its value, however, went beyond individual repositories to foster interinstitutional cooperation.

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