More Product Less Process” (MPLP) is an approach to archival processing proposed by the American archivists Mark A Greene and Dennis Meissner in 2005. MPLP questions how useful intensive processing at file and item levels is when backlogs of unprocessed (and therefore closed to the public) material keep getting bigger.

They suggest a more pragmatic approach to large collections, like York’s civic archive. Instead of making users wait years for collections to be catalogued in detail, they say that archivists should focus on making the maximum number of records available in the minimum amount of time.

The same high quality of research and description is carried out, but at a higher level of description. This means  we would describe groups or series of records, instead of individual files and documents.

Modern archive boxes

MPLP is suitable for York’s civic archive as previous work has focused on inventories and transcriptions at the lower (more specific) levels of description. So, whilst some parts of the collection are covered in lots of detail, other sections are practically unknown.

Archival records are not just valuable because of their content, but because of their context. The City Making History project constructed a structural “map” that will express the connected complexity of the collection as a whole,  so users can find areas of interest.

Once the catalogue is completed and the MPLP-inspired framework is in place, additional information can then be added into the structure to describe sections in more detail. This way, we can incorporate existing lists, and target specific areas for future work. This is a very ambitious project, but will have benefits not just for York but for other archives as well, as MPLP has not been tested on this scale in the UK before.

6 thoughts on “MPLP

  1. “Structural Map” – what a good idea! I wonder if it would work, in some form, with my private collections project?
    Will enjoy thinking about that one!

  2. Hello, Just wondering if you know of any archives already using MPLP, specifically any that have an online catalogue I can play around with to get a feel for what using one is like without having to travel to the US?

    1. Thanks, that’s a good idea, I’ll post some up this week so you can have a look. MPLP reflects the process more than the outcome, but I will try find some series-level cataloguing so you can see the difference.

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