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When and Where
  • 2/14/2024 9:00 AM CST
  • 2/16/2024 1:00 PM CST
  • 1/14/2024 11:45 PM CST
  • Virtual
  • Jacqueline Dean
  • Cory Nimer

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

Course will run two days---February 14, 2024 (9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. U.S. central time) AND February 16, 2024 (9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. U.S. central time).

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 (A&D) Certificate Program.


Cory Nimer is senior librarian and university archivist at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Previously he served as technical services archivist and metadata specialist at the institution. His responsibilities have included supervising archival processing, archival management system implementation, and metadata development. His research interests include archival descriptive practice, archival literacy, and the history of archives in the Inter-mountain West. Nimer holds a BA in History and Anthropology from Brigham Young University, an MA in History from Sonoma State University, and an MLIS from San José State University. He has been actively involved with the Society of American Archivists, and has served as chair of the Standards Committee and as SAA's representative to the American Library Association's Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access (CC:DA) and the MARC Advisory Committee. He is currently a member of the Technical Subcommittee on Encoded Archival Standards.

Jacqueline "Jackie" Dean is the Head of Archival Processing in the Wilson Special Collections Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She previously worked at the State Library of North Carolina, North Carolina State University, and Houghton Library at Harvard University. She has a B.A. in English and M.L.S from UNC-Chapel Hill. She has served on SAA’s Technical Subcommittee for Describing Archives: A Content Standard and taught Introduction to Archives and Arrangement and Description at the School of Information and Library Science at UNC-Chapel Hill.

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 Tier: Foundational

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: $239 / $289

Employees of SAA Member Institutions: $299 / $339

Nonmembers: $339 / $399

To add multiple courses, click the Add Registration button during the check out process.


  • “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"
  • "I got a lot out of both DACS (Fundamentals and Advanced) courses; I think they work best when taken together. The format was great and so much better than just reading the manual. I will definitely be able to implement the information and strategies I learned in. doing these courses into my work. "