The Lone Arranger: Succeeding in a Small Repository by Christina Zamon [Review]

By Holly Mengel
February 2014

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Christina Zamon, The Lone Arranger: Succeeding in a Small Repository (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2012).

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Christina Zamon’s The Lone Arranger is definitely a useful book for the sole worker in a small repository, but those working with colleagues in larger repositories will also find much that is valuable. The book is full of information about basic approaches to archival arrangement, management, promotion, and sustainability that will guide those starting to handle collections in a small institution. It will also help fill in the missing blanks for those working in the innumerable larger organizations that operate without concrete policies and continue to perform tasks “the way they have always been done.”

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 In 157 pages, Zamon introduces the essential tasks that archivists (or those who find themselves responsible for archival material) are required to perform in order to preserve our cultural heritage. In addition to overall guidelines for the how-to of archival work, Zamon presents case studies by practicing archivists, including real-life examples of mission statements, forms, and policies. The book is arranged in seven segments: administration and management; collections management; information technology; fundamental archival programs (preservation, internship and volunteer programs, records management, and electronic records management); facilities management and disaster planning; reference and outreach; and budgeting and financing.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 The most useful aspect of this book is the inclusion of forms with sample policies and procedures that cover basic operational tasks like accessioning, processing, preservation, and access, as well as more complicated and technically dependent aspects of the archival profession such as digitization and electronic-document management systems. Disaster planning and facilities management, issues that small organizations often defer due to the more immediate concerns of new or backlogged “stuff,” are addressed in this book, along with a discussion on careful collecting and de-accessioning through thoughtful policies and mission statements. Zamon even touches on outreach, education, and fundraising. One very useful component of the text is the discussion on managing volunteers, who frequently make up the bulk of the staff in nonprofit organizations. Zamon remarks on the “mixed blessing” that volunteers can be and provides guidance for planning programs, developing appropriate projects, and, if necessary, honestly letting volunteers know that their services do not fit the needs of the repository.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 While the reader of this book will not walk away with every skill necessary to work as an experienced archivist, he or she will have a good understanding of the big picture and be able to perform the tasks that are essential to operating a twenty-first-century archive. Zamon clearly defines the difficulties that a “lone arranger” in a repository may—and almost certainly will—face, but she also provides solutions to each and every one of them. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, the reader feels armed and ready to face those challenges.

The Lone Arranger: Succeeding in a Small Repository by Christina Zamon [Review]

Holly Mengel

Processing Archivist, Special Collection Center – University of Pennsylvania

1 Comment on the whole post
Chris Prom says:

Holly, thanks so much for this review. As you pointed out this book is useful not only for archivists, but for anyone wanting/needing to get a handle on what archivists do, and why we do it that way we do.

As a related note, I am interested in hearing from readers of the Archive Journal about other book publications that you might like to see SAA pursue, that would be useful to a broad segment of cross-disciplinary readers and authors that the journal represents.

Chris Prom

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