Introduction to Archives

Academic Year: 


Course ID and Name: 

Section Number: 

Course Syllabus

Course Prerequisites: 

Completion of LIS 504.

Course Description: 

LIS 540 provides an introduction to the archival profession with focus on theory and practice in the areas of appraisal and acquisition, arrangement and description, reference, preservation, exhibitions, outreach, and electronic resource development.  “Introduction to Archives” is one of four required courses for the Graduate Certificate in Archival Studies in the iSchool.  The Certificate program’s courses are sequenced to progress in depth and scope, therefore we suggest that LIS 540 be taken before the advanced archives course (640).  The Graduate Certificate in Archival Studies was designed in accordance with the Society of American Archivists (SAA) guidelines for graduate archival studies. Course Prerequisite: Completion of LIS 504.

Course Objective: 

The purpose of this course is to expose students to archival theories, concepts, and methods used in managing historical and contemporary records.  Through research, intensive readings, discussions, and assignments, the course establishes a basic understanding of archival principles and introduces students to the profession’s culture and practices. By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • understand the culture of archives, including its principles, history, and theory
  • identify and understand the profession’s vocabulary
  • apply archival proficiencies by creating examples of professional documents
  • exercise graduate-level research, analytical and writing skills
  • demonstrate familiarity with the professional literature of archival studies

The SLIS competencies<>offered in this course, and that students are expected to demonstrate for professional and academic development in their portfolios, are: A1, A2, B5, B7, C8, and C10.

Required Course Materials: 

Millar, Laura A. Archives: Principles and Practices. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2010. 

[ISBN: 9781555707262]

Gilliland, Anne J. Conceptualizing 21st Century Archives. Chicago: SAA, 2014. [ISBN:1-931666-68-7]

Course Requirements: 


Participation: weekly posts and responses + in-class 20%

Archives Visit & Collection Assessment  15%

Arrangement Exercise  15%

Ephemeral Archiving Exercise  10%

Finding Aid   15%

Final Exam   25%


Course Grading: 

Course Policies: 

Course Policies: 

AttendanceLibrarians and archivists work in shared communities of practice. Part of your training is to engage with your colleagues.  You will be considered absent if you do not participate during the time scheduled for class discussion.  Your absences will affect your final participation grade. Excessive absence or non-participation will lead to an administrative drop. The UA’s policy concerning Class Attendance and Administrative Drops is available at:

The UA policy regarding absences on and accommodation of religious holidays is available at

Absences pre-approved by the UA Dean of Students (or Dean designee) will be honored.  See:

Technology: Access to a high-speed internet connection, a high-functioning headset or earbuds for lectures, MS Word, and Adobe Reader for pdfs will contribute to your success in this course.

Grading:  Students are expected to demonstrate understanding of the material through sophisticated analysis, critical thinking, and writing skills and to approach all work in an honorable and forthright manner.  Written work will be graded on mastery of the material and applied task, effective analysis of course materials and ideas, and students' ability to write at a graduate level, with appropriate command of the disciplinary discourse.  As nascent information professionals, you know that Google is NOT the first (nor last) stop in your search strategy.  Any research or consultation of outside sources must be fully, honestly, and correctly documented (even in discussion posts).

Substance and analysis will be used as primary criteria for the evaluation of assignments and participation, including discussion posts.  Students are expected to produce graduate-level writing. Significant errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation will lead to grade deductions. Please proofread carefully! If you anticipate having writing problems, contact me ASAP.

Chicago Manual of Style, 16th: In keeping with the research conventions of Archival Studies and the style sheets of the major archival journals, sources are to be cited using the notes-bibliography form as set out in the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. (2010)

You should learn the rules of this style sheet as part of your professional portfolio. All references to readings in the syllabus adhere to CMS bibliographic style for periodicals, so you can use them as examples.

Accessibility and Accommodations (DRC):

It is the University’s goal that learning experiences be as accessible as possible.  If you anticipate or experience physical or academic barriers based on disability, please let me know immediately so that we can discuss options.  You are also welcome to contact Disability Resources (520-621-3268) to establish reasonable accommodations.

Grading Scale

(A) 90-100  (B) 80-89   (C) 70-79  (D) 60-69  (E) 59 and below.

Grading Scale: A = Excellent.  All work completed in an outstanding manner, showing mastery of the material through sophisticated analytical and critical thinking and writing skills.  B = Very Good.  All work completed in an above-average manner in both analysis and writing, or work that is outstanding in one category but not the other.  C = Average.  Work completed adequately, but with insufficient analysis or critical approach, or unclear organization and weak writing skills.  D = Poor.  Work done on a level measurably below average, containing many mechanical and factual errors or poor writing and analytical skills.  E = Failure.  Incomplete work, or work replete with mechanical, analytical, and writing errors. 

C and D grades are considered probationary grades for graduate students and may impede progress toward degree:

Incomplete.  The grade of “I” will be awarded only in extreme, exigent circumstances when all but a minor portion of the course work has been satisfactorily completed.  Students should make arrangements with the instructor to receive an incomplete grade before the end of the semester. Requests for incompletes (I) and withdrawal (W) must be made in accordance with university policies which are available at and, respectively.

Late Work  Meeting deadlines is a professional job skill. Late assignment submissions and discussion participation are not acceptable.  Please notify me immediately if you have a personal emergency that requires further consideration.  You should have the appropriate documentation to verify an emergency. If you are having difficulty balancing all your obligations, please send me an email sooner rather than later to discuss options.

University Course Policies: 

Academic Integrity: The Code of Academic Integrity states, in part: "Integrity is expected of every student in all academic work.  The guiding principle of academic integrity is that a student's submitted work must be the student's own.  This principle is furthered by the student Code of Conduct and disciplinary procedures established by ABOR Policies 5-308 - 5-403, all provisions of which apply to all University of Arizona students."  See for additional information.  If you are unsure, err on the side of integrity and document all consulted sources and aids, such as the Writing Center or any kind of tutor or proofreader. 

Plagiarism will not be tolerated.  Any violations of the Code may result in the strictest sanctions by the University, one of which is expulsion.  Do not expect tolerance, leniency, or second chances.

The University Libraries have some excellent tips for avoiding plagiarism available at:

Basic rule of thumb: if you're tempted, email me instead and we will talk through the problem and find a way for you to best exercise your skills.

Respectful Behavior: Respect for the material, other students, and the professor is part of a productive learning environment. The Student Code of Conduct states (in part): "The aim of education is the intellectual, personal, social, and ethical development of the individual. . . . Self discipline and a respect for the rights of others in the University community are necessary for the fulfillment of such goals."  See Good conduct is expected of all students.

As part of professional development, students should develop habits of collegial comportment, both in discussions and in written work.  This includes using proper, formal salutation and signature in emails, proofreading all work, treating classmates collegially, and working in a forthright, professional, and timely manner. 

Email: In support of instruction, research, and administrative functions, the University provides the campus email system. Students should use their UA email (Catmail) for the aforementioned purposes.  See examples of inappropriate uses of email here:


College of Social and Behavioral Sciences