Drafts: To Keep or Not To Keep?

Recently on the “Lone Arranger Roundtable” Listserv (within the Society of American Archivists), there was an in-depth discussion of whether you should keep drafts or not within your collection. This is an area that you should address within your collection policy. Since the archives cannot keep everything (due to space and financial constraints), it is better to make a determination in advance of what types of drafts (if any) you will accept before meeting with donors who have cleaned out their closets and wish to give you “everything.” Your collection policy is your guidepost in keeping the archives collection focused.

Drafts would be one of the formats considered for inclusion in your archives. An argument can be made for either keeping or not keeping this format. However, once a decision has been made, it is considered best practices to follow the policy and be consistent in your accessions. If in the future the policy needs to be updated, a determination can be made at that time to revise the policy on collecting drafts.

Some of the reasons for keeping drafts would include major revisions, annotated notes from the author, or perhaps keeping the first and then final draft.  If the revisions are minor or only include grammatical changes, it may not be worth it (in time and limited resources) to keep all the drafts. In addition, this “drafts” section could include the collection policy on manuscripts, typescripts, page proofs, or galley proofs of published books (by alumni authors).

Make sure that your collection policy (as well as the other archives policies) are properly vetted through your administrative channels. Having the support of your institution will help you be able to be consistent in your collection policy management.

Collection Policy Resources



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