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The final count of boxes and/or volumes will not be determined until the end-processing is completed. The archivist should insert a provisional count at the end of the descriptive work. When the end-processing is complete, the manuscript assistant will inform the archivist of the final “count” and the archivist will updated MARC record and finding aid (if needed).  

An item/volume that is over 28 cm. high is a folio

An item/volume that is over 46 cm. high is a portfolio

[updated 03/12/2014]

300   Physical description. (DACS 2.5) Required

This field contains the physical description of the collection, including its extent.  Punctuation is conventional in this field and is noted below. Do not abbreviate words. This field displays in HOLLIS OPAC as ‘Description:’

Indicators: both blank, undefined.


$$a   Extent. Number of physical pages, volumes, total playing time, etc., of each type of unit.” Record the inclusive extent of the whole collection The first (or sometimes the only) 300 field, should record the total size of the collection. 

  • First record the total linear feet of the containers. We count total linear feet by measuring the depth of the material included, not the measurement of the shelf space taken up. Traditionally Houghton is interested in recording the amount of  material the reader can expect to have to read through. We do not use abbreviations and we use the words “linear feet” for extent; and “linear foot”  only in the case of “1 linear foot.”


 5 linear feet

.3 linear feet

1 linear foot

.03 linear feet

  • Next add the number of physical containers (recorded with a second $$a and inside parentheses) usually boxes (but can be volumes or  other “counted” materials).  Use of the word "box" denotes any type of box-like container such as (but not limited to) a black box, Hollinger box, Paige carton, etc…  Variant types of housing should be separated by a comma.  See full examples below.     

$$f   We do not use subfield $$f (type of unit) as we do not keep statistics on the type of container

$$3   Materials specified. Part of the described materials to which the field applies. Place this word, followed by a colon, immediately before the physical description data, but only in the additional 300 fields, when multiple 300s are used [it also is allowed by MARC to be after].


300 $$a 2 linear feet $$a (4 boxes)

300 $$3  Includes photographs: $$a .5 linear feet $$a (1 box)

Punctuation for 300: Ends with a period or may end in no punctuation when another mark of punctuation or closing parenthesis is present. 


Examples of a single 300 field:

      300 __ $$a 12.5 linear feet $$a (30 boxes, 15 volumes)

      300 __ $$a 11.5 linear feet $$a (27 boxes, 2 portfolio boxes)

      300 __ $$a 1 linear foot $$a (2 boxes) 

      300 __ $$a 1.25 linear feet $$a (3 boxes)

      300 __ $$a .5 linear feet $$a (1 box) 


Expanding a 300 and using multiple 300 fields

If the collection includes material that might require reformatting and/or conservation in the future it should be mentioned in the extent based on the following rule: DACS 2.5.6:  "…qualify the statement of physical extent to highlight the existence of material types that are important" Therefore, as of 2014, the Manuscript Section is capturing the following information in the 300 field for statistical purposes [reports will be run in ALEPH to capture these statistics]:

    1. Total extent in linear feet
    2. Extent of photographic material
    3. Extent of audio/visual material
    4. Extent of born-digital material

If there is easily measurable material, of significant amount (over 10 items) it should be split-out and recorded in its own 300 field.  

Examples of use of multiple 300s:

      300   $$a 1.5 linear feet $$a (3 boxes)

      300   $$3 Includes photographs: $$a .5 linear feet $$a (1 box)


      300   $$a 10 linear feet $$a (6 boxes, $$a13 volumes)

      300   $$3 Includes audiocassettes: $$a .5 linear feet $$a (40 items)

      300   $$3 Includes negatives: $$a .1 linear feet.

      300   $$3 Includes film reels: $$a .2 linear feet $$a (10 reels)


      300   $$a 5 linear feet $$a (5 portfolio boxes)

      300   $$3 Includes prints: $$a (25 items)

      300   $$3 Includes photographs: $$a (12 items)


      300   $$a 7 linear feet $$a (7 boxes)

      300   $$3 Includes CD-Rs:  $$a8 items $$a (5.6 GB)

      300   $$3 Includes floppy disks: $$a2 items $$a (0.00288 GB)


$$b   Other physical details. If the material is not easily measurable (such as single photographs scattered throughout correspondence files), but is definitely worth mentioning [i.e. over 10 items], then mention the format word within the inclusive 300 field in a subfield $$b and use the word “uncounted”

Examples of materials not easily measurable, but important enough to mention:

      300   $$a 1.25 linear feet $$a (3 boxes) $$b includes uncounted photographs, $$b includes uncounted negatives.


The types of materials that should be highlighted include [list may be added to]:

From AAT:



compact discs


      photo CDs


magnetic disks

      floppy disks


motion pictures (visual works)

phonograph records

photographs [and all related visual materials such as negatives, etc…]




Born digital material in the 300

As we acquire and catalog born-digital material, it should be noted that there will be a description of the digital storage requirement of the material, but there may not be a physical container taking up shelf space [e.g., acquisition of a website]. In these cases, the field will be formatted with a term from AAT describing the documents (not the file or encoding format) and an expression of the storage requirement in MB as follows:

      300   $$3 Web pages (document genres): $$a (2.8 MB)

      300   $$3 Digital images:  $$a (300 MB)

      300   $$3 Digital art (visual works): $$a (30000 MB)

      300   $$3 Electronic mail: $$a (467 MB)

      300   $$3 Database:  $$a (53 MB)


336   Content. (RDA) Optional

337   Media. (RDA) Optional

338   Carrier. (RDA) Optional

It was decided at a Manuscript Section meeting of 12/5/2013, that the Houghton Manuscript Section would not use these new RDA fields in our collection-level MARC records until the archival community arrives at a more clear consensus on how they should/or should not be used in our records. 


351   Current arrangement of materials. (DACS 3.2) Required

[updated 2018] 

This field describes the current arrangement of a collection -- the manner in which the materials of the entire collection have been subdivided into smaller units. This field displays in HOLLIS OPAC as ‘Description:’ When describing arrangement this can be a more general selection than in the finding aid if the outline is very long. Series arrangement information should be in the finding aid only unless there is only one series, then arrangement is described in this field.

The form of the 351 field should reflect the text as it is listed in the arrangement section of the finding aid, or a shortened version of the same. 

Punctuation: Ends with a period.

Indicators: both blank. 


$$a    Arrangement. Relates to the manner in which the materials have been subdivided into smaller units, such as how the record groups are divided into series, and series into subseries.  It is at the cataloger's discretion as to how deep the series divisions should go in this field. Often the series level is enough. The name of the last series is always preceded by the word "and."


351   $$a Arranged into the following series:  I.  Correspondence; II. Compositions; III. Biographical material: A. By subject, and B. Printed material; and IV. Photographs.

351   $$a Arranged alphabetically by author.  

351   $$a Arranged chronologically, then alphabetically by subject. 


NOTE: All records of accessioned collections, should have this note:

351  $$a Collection is minimally processed.

Note can be appended if arrangement is present.

351  $$a Collection is minimally processed. Organized alphabetically as received by repository.

351  $$a Collection is minimally processed. Loosely arranged into the following series: I. Correspondence; and II. Printed Material.



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