What is a finding
Librarians and archivists create a finding
aid to provide information about the arrangement, content
and context of an archival collection. These collections consist
of materials formed by a person, family, or organisation and
may contain a wide variety of items such as correspondence,
diaries, manuscripts, speeches, newspaper cuttings, photographs,
cassette tapes, computer files, pamphlets and memorabilia.
Finding aids help researchers locate materials in large and
diverse collections that are relevant to their research.
How to understand
Finding aids often consist of numerous
hierarchies. These are used to illustrate the relationships
of items or files to higher levels of organisation.
At the highest level, finding aids provide
an overview of the collection. The overview may include information
on the scope, content and size of the collection, and how
the collection was acquired. A biographical or organisational
history may also be provided, as well as information on related
Lower down the ladder are progressively
detailed descriptions of the parts or components of the collection.
Many finding aids are organised into series or subseries dividing
the records according to physical form or activities for which
they were created or assembled. Series may reflect the groupings
or file systems used by the creator when the files were in
active use, or may have been imposed later by Library staff.
A series description may be provided to summarise the contents
of a series.
Below the series level may be inventories
of files or items comprising the series. Some finding aids
include indexes to correspondence identifying the authors
and recipients of correspondence within a collection.
For information on using
the National Library's Manuscript Collection please see Help.