Determining Significance

Significance of a Resource

The PSAP recognizes that an item or collection's informational content can and often should be taken into account when generating a prioritized preservation plan. If you have a resource item or collection that is in poor physical condition and that has little significance to your institution, you may choose to put it lower on your prioritized list than a resource in better physical condition and with a greater significance to your institution. For this reason, PSAP can factor this significance dimension in its results. You may also choose to exclude this consideration; this is useful if you only have interest in the physical condition of the items you are assessing, without respect to the informational content of the materials.

In the PSAP application, significance is either selected or it is not, there is no scale of significance or option for indicating what type of significance is associated with a resource. However, users may develop their own institutional guidelines for circumstances that require a significance flag, or use the notes section to incorporate additional information as needed.

Choosing a level of significance in this question will not affect the overall score of the resource. It can, however, allow you to rank your decision list by significance should you choose to. Consider this question as a way to "flag" significant materials in your decision list. This field is optional but we recommend you consider the significance of the item as it will affect your preservation decisions, particularly when you have a limited amount of funds and a great deal of materials to treat.

For our purposes, we break down the concept of "significance" according to traditional archival theory:

These are just some of the factors you can consider when making decisions about the significance of an item or collection. Some institutions may consider the fiscal value of a resource as well, which is usually determined by an outside (third party) appraiser. Assigning a high level of significance to most or all of your materials will render this field worthless in your final decision list. For this reason, we strongly recommend you to be as discerning as possible when assigning a level of significance to your materials.