Archivists and records managers traditionally have arranged manuscripts according to the principle of provenance, resisting attempts to cross-reference or subject catalog archival materials. They have argued that cross-referencing is doomed to failure due to the lack of commonly agreed upon subject descriptors (which librarians call authority files) and to the sheer size of the undertaking. Archives are traditionally understaffed, and the hours involved in cross-referencing by subject prohibit such undertakings. On the other hand, researchers and information managers have long expressed the desire for subject access to information which may be dispersed throughout separate manuscript collections in the same repository or contained in collections or record groups held by several repositories scattered throughout the world.



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