Quick guide to Archival and Non-Archival Material

Archival Material

  •  Main series of key records, produced regularly at Department  or Group level.  Reports, technical notes and specifications, minutes of meetings, etc. (Many of these may already be in the Archive.)

  • Other key documents, produced on an ad-hoc basis. Documents concerning the setting up of experiments, proposals, letters of agreement, memoranda of understanding, contracts, designs,  plans, records of ad-hoc Advisory Committees, etc. Budgets and summary financial records, audit reports, post-project appraisals and any other reports or workplans that give a good overview of activities within the area. Research files, notebooks and logbooks (particularly "experiment" or "running" logbooks kept by the full collaboration). Public education and public relations material, including lecture notes and other teaching materials.

  • Filing systems of individuals

These collections may contain ANY type of document, including working notes, correspondence, printouts of e-mail, memoranda, drawings, photos, sound recordings, diaries, etc. The most important consideration is that they should show the policy, functions, activities and achievements of the body (department, experiment, project, etc.) in which they were created. They are important because they give background detail on how decisions or conclusions were reached. Many of the important decisions will be recorded in the key documents listed above, but these can be rather "dry", and don't necessarily give an understanding of the real issues involved. The most historically valuable records usually - but not always - come from the higher levels of the organization. For example, the files of a Department Leader or Collaboration Spokesperson are nearly always valuable because they shed light on high-level decisions. But information on interesting projects and developments can come from anywhere in the organization. 

There is no need to "tidy-up" the content of files before offering them to the Archive; in fact, it is important that the original order (or disorder) is respected. If a file is mainly of historical interest it should be sent to the Archive in its entirety, even if it also contains some "trivia".

Here are a few questions to ask when appraising records:

  • Do they provide evidence of the origins, structure, functions, policies, decisions or significant operations of the person or body who created them?

  • Do they give a good overview of the progress (achievements or problems) of the Department/ Collaboration?

  • Do they relate to significant changes in CERN's activities, processes or policy?

  • Do they relate to a project that led to a "first of its kind" process, activity or result?

Non-Archival Material

  • Publications (journals, reprints, etc.)

  • Widely distributed CERN reports and series routinely received by the Archive (Council, Committee of Council, Finance Committee, Scientific Policy Committee and TREF documents; CERN Courier and Weekly Bulletin; CERN Research Board Minutes; CERN Annual Reports; CERN Yellow Reports; Experiments at CERN.)

  • Low-level working papers; excessive detail on relatively unimportant subjects; multiple copies or drafts (unless they show significant changes); day-to-day administrative matters; raw data, or data summary tapes.

These are subjective decisions, and it is likely that more records will be kept from higher levels in the organization than from lower ones. Similarly, more detailed information will be kept on subjects of greater importance to the organization, and for periods of crisis (good or bad). Some of the above materials may be of interest if extensively annotated, and some books and conference proceedings may be welcome donations to the Library.

Last modified
20 July, 2020