CRS Manual - Alternative series number and alternative control symbol

Alternative series number

Definition

An item may be controlled under more than one series over time. An item may have an alternative series number, but may or may not change its control symbol. It must also have a corresponding alternative control symbol, even if the item number has not changed. See the 'Application Notes' below for explanation of possible combinations of alternative control symbol and alternative series number.

Purpose

This attribute is used to indicate a series number under which the item was previously controlled. An item may have one or more alternative series numbers.

Where the item was formerly ascribed to or controlled under (rightly or wrongly) another series, the previous series number should be identified. Conversion is the term applied to the process of changing the intellectual and physical control of records, eg changing an accession number allocated to a group of records to a series number or a group of series numbers. Conversion often results from arrangement and description work when several series are identified within the one accession or several accessions are brought together under the one series number.

Relative importance

This field is essential to complete if a conversion process has been required to improve control and management of the item or to place the item in its correct series (category 2). If an alternative control symbol has been entered, there must be a corresponding alternative series number.

Sources of information

The alternative series number may be extracted from annotations of paper-based or electronic recordkeeping control records; or from markings on items.

Standards for content

The series number must be valid for RecordSearch.  This field cannot be used to record series numbers of other archival control systems. Such numbers should be explained in the Item Descriptive Note.

Enter a series number without the 'CRS' prefix. The letter prefix is in upper case. Do not enter transfer control numbers for CRS System series A7985, not CRS A7985
Unserialised accessions and accession series must be entered in full AA1965/5, not AA1965
CP78/1, not CP78
Enter a series number without spaces between characters A7985, not A 7985
CP78/1, not CP 78/1

Amendments

Additional alternative series numbers may be added to an item over time, through the conversion process.

Application notes

Where an item has an alternative control symbol, there must also be an entry in the Alternative Series Number attribute, even if the series number is the same. Inheritance principles have been adopted to reduce error rate and association of incorrect series and item numbers. Three scenarios are possible. In the following example, an item within a series has a current control symbol of A1/29/459.

Current item & series Alternative series number Alternative item control symbol Explanation
Current series: A1

Current control symbol: 1920/55

A1 1919/1040 In this example, the item has an alternative control symbol only
  A2 1920/55 In this example, the item control symbol has not changed, but the item has been converted to another series
  A5 NG1923/36 In this example the item number has an alternative and current control symbol. It has also been converted to another series

Relationship to ISAD(G): 3.1.1

Alternative control symbol

Definition

The alternative control symbol is an item control symbol, which was allocated to the item at the time of registration in a recordkeeping system by the agency recording, in accordance with the scheme of control for the series. It has been superseded by the current item control symbol. An item may or may not stay in the same series when an alternative control symbol is identified. See 'Application notes' for possible scenarios with alternative control symbols.

Purpose

It is essential to record an alternative control symbol in cases where the whole item has been controlled by more than one item number during its existence, especially during the period of its custody and public access in the Archives. Conversion is the term applied to the process of changing the intellectual and physical control of records, eg changing an accession number allocated to a group of records to a series number or a group of series numbers. Conversion often results from arrangement and description work when several series are identified within the one accession or several accessions are brought together under the one series number. These cases include where:

In cases where it is not appropriate for a top-numbered reference to be placed in the Alternative Control Symbol attribute, for example if only part of an item was top-numbered or if there is more than one alternative item number arising from the cases covered in the first paragraph above, place this information in an Archivist Note.

This information is not currently required for items being transferred to the Archives, but may be obtained if subsequent retrieval would be improved.

Relative importance

This field should be completed if conversion is initiated by Archives staff (category 2). Instances of previous control records in agency recordkeeping systems may also be entered in this field.

Sources of information

Sources include annotation of paper-based or electronic control records, markings on items.

Standards for content

The standards for content are the same as those for the Control Symbol attribute. Alternative control symbols are also validated against the system of arrangement and control for the series.

Amendments

This attribute could be updated with one or more control symbols over time to provide a history of archival control and links to transactions performed against that item. Alternative control symbols recorded in agency recordkeeping systems may be electronically loaded into this attribute.

Application notes

See 'Application notes' for Alternative Series Number for an explanation of the possible combinations of series and control symbols where the item control symbol changes. When items have been top-numbered within the same series, it may not be necessary to enter previous control number(s) because this registry action has been well recorded in the creating agency's control records.

Current item & series Alternative series number Alternative item control symbol Explanation
Current series: A1

Current control symbol: 1920/55

A1 1919/1040 In this example, the item has an alternative control symbol only
  A2 1920/55 In this example, the item control symbol has not changed, but the item has been converted to another series
  A5 NG1923/36 In this example the item number has an alternative and current control symbol. It has also been converted to another series

 

On very rare occasions, there is no item number or recognisable system of control symbols for the item which you are attempting to describe. Sometimes, there is an existing control system that is clearly ineffective for archival control purposes. For example, retrieval is difficult because the original system of item identification across the series was poor. In these circumstances you will need to impose a simple control system in consultation with local staff responsible for records control and description. A single number system is generally the best approach.

Having chosen to replace the existing ineffective control system, the earlier item number or control symbols should be copied to this attribute to facilitate retrieval. The new item control symbol will be validated against the system of arrangement and control for the series.

Also, you need to note the imposition of item control in the series documentation. Explain what was imposed, when and why, in the System of Arrangement/Control subheading in the Series Descriptive Note. 

Relationship to ISAD(G): 3.1.1

Sub-item

Definition

A sub-item is a portion of an item that has been physically or logically separated from the item in which it was originally created. Most of the attributes of a sub-item mirror those of the item (referred to as parent item) from which it was separated. Therefore a sub-item has the same series number and control symbol of its parent item.

Purpose

The purpose of describing a sub-item is to control portions of items that for various reasons need to be separated physically from the original creation or are worthy of separate detailed description in the finding aids, without physical separation. However, there is still a need to account for the components and to reconstruct the full item if need be. Reasons why a sub-item might be created include:

Information summaries can be prepared for those items where the description of individual components, such as a photograph or patent are worthy of linking to other items or sub items because of a common subject or theme or event.

For example, several items from one or more series have photos of the one significant event. The photographs are described as sub-items and then linked together through an information summary.  

Relative importance

This field is essential to complete if a part of an item is separated or described individually (category 2).

Sources of information

Professional decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, based on the reasons mentioned above.

Standards for content

On creation, a bar code for the sub-item as well as for the parent item is allocated to assist control over the parts. A sub-item can also be a parent to another sub-item, though such instances would be rare. Instances might include, an envelope that was attached to a file, but was larger than the file and was being torn in the box. The envelope may have significant markings/ artwork or a rare stamp on it, or may have been from or to a famous person, and needs to be protected from rubbing. The envelope may have contained a letter that was larger than the envelope and for preservation purposes it may need to be unfolded and stored without folds in it. Both the envelope and the letter may have been removed from the file and stored separately for display in an exhibition. All these instances necessitate the need for the creation of a sub-item.

Amendments

Some sub-items are only created for temporary purposes and may be cancelled. No sub-item can be deleted if it has been part of a business transaction. A parent item cannot be cancelled if it has sub-items attached to it.

Application notes

Having established a need for a sub-item, changes and additions to attributes may include:

Relationship to ISAD(G): 3.5.3

Copy item

Definition

A copy item is a copy (in any medium) of an original item. This comprises several attributes, most of which are inherited from the item from which it is copied.

Purpose

There are a number of reasons why an item may be copied. This attribute is not designed to control copies of items that were transferred by an agency. The attribute generally describes and controls copy items created by the Archives. 

Relative importance

This attribute must be present, where applicable (category 2). When a copy is made it must be controlled as a separate item for control and retrieval purposes.

Sources of information

Some information is inherited from the parent copy, other information is taken from  the item itself.

Standards for content

A copy item may or may not contain the same attributes of the original item. Once copied it needs to retain the same intellectual control as its original, but may have several different features:

Amendments

Once created, it is unlikely that the description of the copy item will change. The item may be associated as a constituent item to an aggregate series at a later time, but this does not affect any of the attributes of the copy item. Copy items can only be created from the original item to ensure a link remains and the barcode of both ensures that there is always a connection.

Application notes

Select the copy item function and enter the appropriate changes. The main changes from the original copy are likely to be:

Relationship to ISAD(G): 3.5.2

Aggregate item

Definition

An aggregate item is an item that has been created in an aggregate series. Such an item retains its series number and control symbol for control and retrieval purposes, but may also be linked to multiple aggregate series through its constituent items. See also Aggregation Series.

Purpose

The purpose of this attribute is to create an item in an aggregate series for management and retrieval purposes where the physical object may include items from more than one series. The item may be an original item or a copy item that is then put together with other items for a specified purpose. An item may be controlled for intellectual and provenance purposes under one series both in hard copy and electronic form, but physically arranged in another, such as a microfilm reel containing items from several series. It is accessible under the original series and also accessible under the microfilm reel number.

Where items from more than one series are associated by subject or function, an information summary is created to link the items. In those instances, there is no change in the physical make-up of the items and no co-location of such items. For example, items from several series that together document a major event would be linked through an information summary, entitled ‘Opening of East Block, 1998’. The links would be made purely for reference purposes.

Relative importance

This attribute must be present, where applicable (category 2). When an item is created in an aggregate series, control by an aggregate item is necessary. It is not likely to be required for the majority of items over which the Archives has intellectual or physical control.

Sources of information

Examine the records to determine that it is an aggregate item, either created by an agency or by the Archives.

Standards for content

An aggregate item can only be created in an aggregate series, which is identified through the Registration Standard attribute at series level. The series number which controls an aggregate item must be a valid series number and must have a registration standard of ‘Aggregation’.

Amendments

An aggregate item may have constituent items added or removed over time. Other details such as date range may also be amended. This may happen when the constituent items are destroyed or withdrawn.

Application notes

There are a number of steps that result in the creation of an aggregate item.

  1. Create a new item as part of an aggregate series. The aggregate item features are activated only when the series number that is entered is an aggregate series.
  2. Enter the details exactly that make up the aggregate item, such as control symbol, title, and dates. Because an aggregate item could actually be the sum of one or more original items, it is not always appropriate to copy details from an original item.
  3. Add the original items to the aggregate item by entering the bar code numbers of the original items. By entering the bar code number in the appropriate forms, a link is forged between the aggregate item and the original item (now a constituent item).
  4. Having saved the component parts of the aggregate item, the original item will then inherit the attribute of a constituent item, thereby indicating that it has been associated in an aggregate item for another purpose.

Enter a detailed explanation of constituent items and why they were put together into the Descriptive Note of the aggregate item, or if it is for management purposes into an Archivist Note.

Relationship to ISAD(G): 3.5.3

Constituent item

Definition

A item receives the status of constituent item when, in addition to its primary control attributes, it has also been added to one or more other items to form an aggregate item. It is therefore accessible through more than one item control symbol and series number. A item could be combined with one or more items to become the constituent items of an aggregate item. See also 'Aggregate item' and 'Aggregate series'.

Purpose

The purpose of giving an item a constituent label is to show that it may be part of an aggregate item that has been accessioned into an aggregate series, while concurrently being controlled under its primary series. The intellectual control attributes of the item are not compromised due to the need to control artificially created items that contain one or more other items.

It is also possible for a sub-item to be a constituent item where, for example, a photo is described as a sub-item and is also co-located in an album or with other photos that are highly used. Such photos may not have any relationship by  function or subject, but are physically arranged together.

Relative importance

If an item has been associated with an aggregate item then RecordSearch sets this attribute and it is therefore mandatory (category 2). It is not likely to be required for the majority of items over which the Archives has intellectual or physical control.

Sources of information

Examine the records to determine whether it is an aggregate item, either created by an agency or by the Archives.

Standards of content

The extra attribute of constituent item is attributed through the item's association with an aggregate item.

Amendments

If an item is removed from an aggregate item, then the constituent item attribute is also removed. This is accomplished by deleting the link between the bar code numbers.

Application notes

If an item has become a constituent item, the aggregate item and series with which it is associated can be displayed from the Item Registration form. The primary means of linking an item with an aggregate item is through associating the bar code numbers of the relevant items. By doing this, there is no need to amend the intellectual control symbols.

Relationship to ISAD(G): 3.5.3

Ownership other than Commonwealth

Definition

Ownership other than Commonwealth refers to the current legal status or ownership (in terms of the Archives Act 1983) of an item, usually inherited from the attribute at series level.

Purpose

The purpose of this attribute is to indicate that an item is not covered by  the Archives Act and may require different access and disposal provisions. While conditions such as access may well mirror those of the Archives Act, it is not necessarily so. Generally the item inherits the value from the series to which it belongs, and this therefore is not entered at item level. The inherited value displays in the reports but is not is not seen in the item level attribute for data entry. This attribute is not intended to cover copyright provisions. Any particular requirements relating to copyright should be documented in the Item Descriptive Note if they pertain to a specific item, or in the Series Descriptive Note if there is a need to document copyright issues at series level. See also the explanation of Ownership other than Commonwealth for the series.

Relative importance

This attribute is essential if records are not controlled by the Commonwealth (category 2).

Sources of information

This attribute is usually inherited from the series. Alternatively, examine agreements and memorandums of understandings to confirm that the item is indeed non-Commonwealth.

Standards for content

An item within a Commonwealth record series may have a different ownership status than the rest of the series. The value entered against the series registration at series level can be overridden at item level. Select the appropriate code from the table below.

Code Meaning
CORP Non-Commonwealth (corporate records)
INTG Intergovernmental records
MIX Mixed Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth records
PERS Non-Commonwealth (personal records)
TERR Territorial records, eg Christmas Is etc

Amendments

Any changes in the ownership and control of a series may have an impact on the legal status of the relevant series and items within that series.

Application notes

Only one value can be selected for this attribute. If  there are very unusual circumstances concerning access and the given values are not appropriate, provide an explanation in the Item Description Note or an Archivist Note, whichever is the most appropriate. 

Relationship to ISAD(G): 3.2.4