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When and Where
  • 10/13/2020 9:00 AM CDT
  • 10/13/2020 5:00 PM CDT
  • 9/14/2020 11:30 PM CDT
  • Virtual
  • Virtual
  • Jacqueline Dean
  • Cory Nimer

This course WILL count towards the in-person requirement for the A&D program.

Get an in-depth introduction to the key principles, concepts, and elements of Describing Archives: A Content Standard, the recently revised U.S. standard for describing archival materials and their creators. Learn how to implement and incorporate DACS into workflows for accessioning, arrangement, and description through discussions and hands-on work with a variety of exercises designed to help you identify required elements and create a variety of descriptions. This course focuses on application of DACS rules and concepts, which participants can integrate into local repository processes and descriptive outputs.

*This course is a requirement of the Arrangement & Description Certificate Program.

Upon completion of this workshop you’ll be able to:

  • Articulate what DACS is (and isn’t) and how its basic principles relate to archival theory and practice
  • Distinguish between minimal and value-added descriptions for archival materials and creators
  • Apply DACS rules to identify and formulate required elements of archival description
  • Learn how DACS can be applied to the various activities of the archival enterprise

Who should attend:

Anyone whose work includes accessioning, arranging, and describing, or who supervises employees who do that work. Past attendees will find this class useful as a refresher as well as an overview of revisions to the standard.

What should you already know:

Familiarity with the processes of archival arrangement and description

A&D Core Competency: 

1. Arrangement: Understand the process of organizing materials with respect to their provenance and original order to protect their context and facilitate access.

2. Description: Analyze and describe details about the attributes of a record or collection of records to facilitate identification, management, and understanding of the work.

3. Descriptive Standards: Apply rules and practices that codify the content of information used to represent archival materials in discovery tools according to published structural guidelines.

4. Management: Demonstrate ability to manage physical and intellectual control over archival materials.

6. Ethics: Convey transparency of actions taken during arrangement and description and respect privacy, confidentiality, and cultural sensitivity of archival materials.

This course is part of the Arrangement & Description (A&D) Certificate Program. If you intend to pursue the A&D Certificate, you will need to pass the examination for this course.

Fees: Advance / Regular 

SAA Members: $199 / $249

Employees of SAA Member Institutions: $239 / $299

Nonmembers: $279 / $349

Credits: .75 CEUs, 5 ARCs, 1 A&D Foundational


  • “Group work and accompanying discussion. All of the feedback was very educational. The entire presentation was clear, even-paced, and informative.” – Peter K. Steinberg
  • “Everyone should take this - it's a good how-to-write-finding-aids workshop, so it does double-duty!” - Judy Farrar
  • “Application of rules to practice. Hands-on activities and exercises.” – Betsy Pittman
  • “Identity elements, especially title, will make me rethink how I will supply titles in the future.” – Burton Altman
  • “Clarification of what DACS is and is not, emphasis on elements rather than name formation, demonstration of output options, and the exercises were all very helpful.” – Melissa Watterworth