In The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien describes the Mathern House at Michel Delving in the Western part of the Shire. A Mathern is something that a person does not want to keep but cannot bear to throw away. 1 Archivists may often feel that they preside over such a house. They are trained to preserve records of permanent historical value--to prevent their destruction. However, much of the masses of records produced, especially in the twentieth century, may not be of permanent historical value, and archivists need appraisal techniques which will aid them in dealing with this situation and allay their fears that valuable material is being discarded. Appraisal is very much a creation of the twentieth century with its abundance of records, as are some of the techniques developed to deal with those records.



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