Date of this Version
Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies (2020) 7: Article 20
Most American archivists are familiar with More Product, Less Process or MPLP and are sensible of its strengths and weaknesses, while applying its time-saving methods. Minimal methods are currently justified over more time-honored, time-consuming ones by applying MPLP’s now largely accepted practices in an effort to maximize resources and prioritize competing workplace demands.
This paper traces MPLP’s development through four broad observations and seeks to reframe how archivists engage with MPLP and its diverse approaches. MPLP’s larger impact is considered by encouraging a conversation around how professional values have found a voice in MPLP and, in turn, considers MPLP’s impact on the values that drive the archival profession. Archivists must shift their focus from the efficiencies to the implications, from what is done to why it is done, and from the practices to the values that inform archival theory. These malleable values should be held in tension with other fundamental archival values, and ultimately, MPLP should prompt a thoughtful consideration of the many core ideas that have informed and energized archival work across social, cultural, and historical contexts.
This paper is the outgrowth of a project to survey some of MPLP’s earliest adopters—the eight consortium members of the Northwest Archival Processing Initiative—who applied Greene and Meissner’s methods and documented their processing rates from 2005 to 2007. Some of the observations in this paper first emerged while the author wrote the literature review for this survey project, which was published under the title "MPLP Ten Years Later: The Adventure of Being among the First."