US Long-Term Ecological Research Network

What are we documenting at the Center for Limnology?

a)         Documentation
Documentation of the history of the Center for Limnology and Trout Lake Station, Center faculty (and their teaching, research, and outreach), Center research contributions (original data), the academic activities/faculty/staff (visual documentation in the Limnology Library Photo Archives in the beige archival boxes behind the librarian reference desk; written documentation in the correspondence, meeting minutes, project proposals and papers generated by the academic staff, faculty, graduate students of the Center), the Northern Temperate Lakes, and the Center’s involvement with the Long-Term Ecological Research Network (LTER Network).
b)            Security
Material should be respected as unique, authentic documents that should not be altered in any way by the archivist/student preparing the material for long-term retention beyond standard labeling and pencil marking for accessibility and inventorying reasons. The Center’s archival materials should also be handled with attention to protecting personal information (social security numbers) in the records.
c)      Accessibility
Upon deposition, Center archival materials should be easily searchable (both electronically in inventory, and physically in filing system) and should easily be returned to their original position in the filing scheme.
When beginning work on a collection of files intended to be archived, there is a series of steps to be taken before beginning to label, arrange, weed, and re-house materials. Conduct a preliminary survey of the material.
Take a primary survey of the material. If the creator of the material or a collaborator on the generation of the material is available, ask these questions:
a) Who is the creator?
Is the creator still at the Center? In Madison? In the U.S.? Alive? (This can be  useful to know for labeling and descriptive purposes, especially if it the material is in disarray or the record type is not easily identifiable.)
b)What kind of record is it?
Are they subject files from a faculty member? Data files from Data Management? Visual material such as slides or photographs? Newspaper clippings? Unpublished manuscripts? Published materials? Electronic records or documents of various file types? (Once you determine what kind of record(s) you are dealing with, you can determine if and how you should manage them.)
c) How much material is there?
Do you have all of it? Are there any related materials you do not have that would best be archived with the materials you have? Also, different formats may need to be stored in different places (in physical spaces and in electronic storage systems. You should consider how the different formats are associated to each other (described) if they are stored in different locations. (In terms of measuring the quantity, archivists tend to think in terms of cubic feet: 1 cubic foot = 1records center box, the cardboard file boxes you will be using to store the files).
d) When was the material created?
Whenever you can, try to determine a rough date range of new material. This can help you when you begin to consider an arrangement scheme—chronological, alphabetical, etc.
e) Where was the material created?
Was it created in the course of a study conducted at the Center or at Trout Lake? Is it unrelated to Center activities? Is it material concerning another person    or organization where it might be of greater interest?
          Archiving Priorities:
  1. Any remaining LTER files have priority
  2. Things prior to John Magnuson’s retirement (July 2000) have priority
  3. CFL has priority over Magnuson personal
It is essential to develop a consistent method for arranging and describing the material in order to establish physical and intellectual control over archival materials and make them accessible to the researcher. Below are some file naming guidelines for describing different types of files you may encounter.


Record Type
Naming Guidelines & Storage
Center for Limnology history & Trout Lake Station history
·      This may include information about the formation of the Center, capital improvements on the Center and Trout Lake Station, etc.
Include author or major subject, material type, and date if given.
 Trout Lake Station: capital improvements proposal, 1962
·      Typically dated,
·      may provide name and organization affiliation of both sender and receiver;
·      may be in the form of email
If correspondence can be separated by the subject that it concerns, do so and include it in the label, with the creator name and date. Files may contain correspondence from a span of several years.
Benson LTER correspondence, 1999-2001
Correspondence may also fall into a general category when it does not fall neatly into a subject classification. You may create a “General Correspondence” file for series of this nature.
Ex: Watrus general correspondence, 1965-1975
Digital objects
·      may be electronic versions of documents, images, audio or audio-visual materials
·      includes anything that is machine readable (via computer, tape player, VCR, older medium)
Digital objects should be reformatted to a more current medium (such as a CD or DVD) and also backed up on a hard drive.
One copy of the CD/DVD should be filed in the archive and the Center for Limnology will retain the hard drive and a second copy of the CD/DVD as backup.
*The Center for Limnology currently does not have a full-proof long-term storage method for digital object. Talk to people at the Digital Media Center for reformatting and refer to Minds@UW for guidelines on digital projects and electronic storage resources.
Manuscript Drafts & Reviews
·      Typically include multiple versions of the same work
·      May or may not include indication of peer review or having been accepted for publication
Faculty are limited to 10 projects that they feel are pivotal to their career to go in the archive (see item “f” in Appendix A).
Include the first part of the title or a key phrase in the title of the project, type of material (draft, review, penultimate version, etc.) and the date.
Magnuson, Movement of Fishes, Draft 2, 1984
Meeting Agendas & Meeting Minutes
·   Usually labeled “agenda” or “meeting minutes”
·   May include date of meeting and attendees
·   Minutes include proceedings of the meeting and decisions made
Include the originating agency, type of document it is (meeting minutes, agenda), and the date.
LTER Governance: Agenda & meeting minutes, 2005-2007
·      May be printed on photographic paper or standard printing paper
·      May or may not include description of the subjects pictured
Photographs should be separated from the collection and moved to the Limnology Library Photo Archive. Note that photographic materials related to the collection have been separated and are in the Limnology Library. Include this note on a piece of paper in the file to be archived with the paper collection.
Special Archiving procedures for photographs are available in the Limnology Library handbook. Inquire with the librarian.
Raw Data files
·      Typically labeled with date and chronological order can easily be established
·      May include notes about instrumentation and calibration
·      May also include data summaries
·      Sometimes in the form of original field sheets
Include the type of document (field sheet, data summary, instrumentation calibrations, etc.), the project, and the date if given.
Little Rock Station 1-4 Data Sheets: pH/Chlorophyll/Alkalinity/Conductivity July-December 1984
·      Typically labeled “report” and may include cover sheet explaining the nature of the project
·      May be organization
Try to include the title of the report, agency, and date if given.
LTER: Cyberinfrastructure Progress Report, 2000
·         Published research papers and articles reprinted by the publisher as a separate item from the journal
·         Find examples of these in the reprints collection in the Limnology Library
Separate reprints from the collection and give them to the Limnology Library.
In general, published material is not archival, it is for the library.
Research Proposals
·         Like reports, these have cover sheets providing the full title, date of the proposal, information about the submitting organization and the potential funding organization, and authors of the proposal.
·         Typically, you do not need to look beyond the cover sheet and cover page of a proposal to determine what it is.
These are to be archived as they document the research interests of the Center members over time.
Describe proposals using a key segment of the title or beginning of the title and not the whole thing (they tend to be long titles). If you can, include the agency to which it is associated.
NSF: Tuna Research Proposal, 1974-1976


*NOTE: You will encounter material that does not fall into the categories listed above. When in doubt, talk to the record creator or anyone in the Center related to the project or who may have known the record creator. Ask questions. Describe material using succinct titles that describe roughly what the material is, the type, and an approximate date when possible. If no date is provided, label “undated.”
      Once you have an idea of what items are and their context and relationship with the records around them, you can begin the arrange materials into files and boxes. Begin by writing out an outline of your file structure. Example:
      LTER Network, 1990-2002 [this would be your section divider, which you would insert at the beginning of a series of related files]
                  Planning Grant Committee: Meeting minutes, 1990-1992 [file name]
                  Planning Grant Committee: Progress Report, 1992 [file name]
                  Planning Grant Committee: Correspondence, 1991-1993 [file name]
      Begin physically arranging the material once you have a rough idea of how you will name your files, and arrange them (chronologically if they cover a range of dates OR alphabetically by title, if they tend to be around the same date range—alphabetical lists are easy to scan and add to).
-Remember to file folders BEHIND each section tab
-When filing chronologically, file from earliest year in front
(This is especially important if you receive new material that does not fit into you existing file categories and you need to add a folder. If all your folders are already numbered, you will need to go back and re-number them when you add new material—it is best to avoid this as it is time-consuming and redundant.)  
Archival Boxes:
  • A box should ideally cover only one main topic (e.g., LTER)
  • Each box should contain a paper inventory sheet on top (an Excel spreadsheet)
  • Template is in COMMONS > Archive > Inventory Template
  • You will provide a box ID number to each box before taking it to Steenbock Library, University Archives. Box ID numbers consist of initials-year-sequential number
            the first Magnuson box of 2007 would be JJM-07-01
  • Box titles should be as descriptive as possible, yet concise
            Magnuson Teaching & Mentorship: 1969-2009
  • Each box is given a location number for Steenbock, which they will assign to the boxes when you bring them over to the University Archives.
  • The outside of each box should be labeled with the Box ID number and the box title



 Folders Within Boxes:

-        Folders should be titled descriptively on the tab (matching database/inventory spreadsheet)
-        Folders should be numbered (1, 2, 3, etc.) as in database/inventory. Folder number should be circled.
-        The front of the folder should be labeled, in pencil, with the Box ID number
Individual Documents:
-        Individual documents should be labeled IN PENCIL with the folder number in the top right corner (at a minimum); individual items may also be labeled with the file title, though it is not entirely necessary.
·         Remember to file folders BEHIND each section tab
·         When filing chronologically, file the item from earliest year in front; the most recent item should be in the back when one opens the file (i.e. if the folder spans from 1985-1990, the first item in the front of the file/ on top of the stack of items in the file will be from 1985, followed by 1986, 1987…1990)
·         Print off 2 inventory sheets for each box. One is filed in the binder in the Data Management Center containing the inventory of Center materials at Steenbock. The other should be placed on the top of each archival box.
·         If you ever need to file new material into a box in the archives or make changes to the file titles, you need to:
  • Revise the electronic version of the inventory sheet and print two new copies to replace the old ones in the binder at the Center and in the archives box in Steenbock
  • Search the inventory and find the box and its Steenbock locator number so you can easily locate the box once you get to Steenbock
  • Contact the archivist at Steenbock (Bernard (Bernie) Shermetler) by email a day or so before going over to Steenbock and then by phone just before you leave the Center to go over to Steenbock.
  • Go to Steenbock and make the necessary changes to the box in the archives.


            When you have accumulated several complete archival boxes with inventory sheets and all, contact the archivist at Steenbock by email a day or so before going over to Steenbock and then by phone just before you leave the Center to go over to Steenbock. The loading dock for box drop off is behind Steenbock Library just after the parking garage. Pull all the way through past the parking garage to the big metal doors before the glass portion of the lower level of Steenbock. 


Center For Limnology Archives Collection Development Policy
  1. Raw data should be kept. Summaries of raw data can be saved at the discretion of the researcher or the archives committee. 
  2. Photos and slides should be kept if they are originals of people, research sites or activities of the Center for Limnology. Do not save if graphs, tables, etc. that have been put into a publication. 
  3. Fish scales are important to keep. 
  4. Unlabeled strip charts should not be saved. 
  5. Punch cards should not be saved. 
  6. In general, drafts, notes, etc. leading up to a publication should not be saved. However, we will ask each of the primary archives depositors (CFL faculty) to identify no more than 10 projects which they feel are defining to their career or show the creative process, and for which these preliminary materials should be kept. 
  7. Do not save term papers and undergraduate student projects unless they contain results of original research. 
  8.  Reprints will be removed from the archives and evaluated by the Center for Limnology librarian for disposition. 
  9. Save correspondence unless it is insignificant (i.e. thank you’s, meeting arrangements, carbon copies addressed to another person). 
  10. Meeting agendas and minutes should be saved if the Center for Limnology is involved. Do not save those that should be the responsibility of other organizations (Sea Grant, NSF, IAGLR, etc.). We may wish to contact those organizations before disposing of relevant materials. ASLO materials should be retained in the limnology archives unless duplicates. 
  11. Do not save abstract books, conference flyers or other such “preliminary” items. Published conference proceedings are available elsewhere and should not be kept unless the Center for Limnology is the sponsoring organization. 
  12. Use caution when discarding what appears to be unreadable, uninterpretable, undocumented materials.
*The Archive Committee will consult with faculty and senior staff as needed if questions arise. Electronic records and documents are also subject to the CFL Archives Collection Development Policy and should be evaluated based on the criteria listed above.
Annotated Bibliography of Archives Management Resources
DACS: Describing Archives: A Content Standard. (Chicago, Ill.: Society of American Archivists, 2007).
            DACS is the standard for archival description used in the United States and abroad. It includes description standards and best practices for describing and labeling all parts of archival collections. Copies are available at the School of Library and Information Studies Library in Helen C. White, 4th Floor.
Michael J. Fox and Peter Wilkerson, Introduction to Archival Organization and Description: Access to Cultural Heritage. Edited by Suzanne R. Warren. (Santa Monica: Getty Information Institute, 1998).
            This is a free online resource for archival organization and description, though not as complete as DACS.
Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler and Diana Vogt-O’Connor, Photographs: Archival Care and Management (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2006).
            Concerned with the full range of photographic techniques, housing, care, and preservation. Photographs is a comprehensive guide to everything one needs to know about archiving photographs and photographic history.
Kathleen D. Roe, Arranging and Describing Archives and Manuscripts (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2005).
            Roe’s handy volume provides a methodological perspective on archival arrangement and description as well as some insight into DACS. It is an excellent place to start for a deeper perspective on how and why we arrange and describe manuscript collections.



Protocol Type
document archive