Minnesota  State Archives

Educating Archivists and their Constituencies Briefings


Please note that all references and content information can only be considered current as of May 2003. It is your responsibility to verify the materials and update them as necessary.


Both the metadata and XML briefings are intended to be two-hour, high-level introductions to the topics. Because of the time-limitation, this format offers less chance of participant interaction than the full-day workshops, but many of the same ideas are touched on.

As with the full-day workshops, these sessions have been fully tested and may be used just as given. However, you and your participants will receive the most benefit if you customize the materials with local examples. Please credit the State Archives if you make use of these materials.

Resource Lists | Preparation | Invitations | Briefing Materials | Tips for Instructors


Resource Lists
The following resource lists offer pointers to topic-related materials. These will help you familiarize yourself with the topics beforehand, as well as serving as the basis for a pre-course reading list for your participants. You may also wish to draw from the bibliographies included in the participant course books.

Please note that all references and content information can only be considered current as of May 2003. It is your responsibility to verify the materials and update them as necessary.


To ensure a well-run, well-received briefing, there are several things you must do in preparation. These include:

  • Analyzing what your goals are for the session. Do you just want to give a one-time overview of the topic? Do you want to highlight a special project that's under development or underway? Do you want to set the stage for future collaboration among participants or for future educational offerings? This analysis should guide you in customizing the briefing to meet your needs.

  • Deciding whom to invite. Do you want to target people who all have the same background (e.g., information technology specialists, librarians, records managers) or do you prefer to have a mixed group that will include representatives from all of your partner groups? What is your practical limit in terms of space and your comfort level?

  • Setting a date and time for the session.

  • Finding a space to accommodate the number of participants and instructors. The basic needs are a projection screen that everyone can easily see, tables with room for everyone to work comfortably, and an arrangement that facilitates discussion among the group.

  • Deciding whether to offer refreshments and/or lunch. There are no breaks during the briefing, so participants may enjoy having ready access to at least beverages.

  • Customizing the briefing to include local examples of relevance to you and your participants (see earlier point on analysis). Points of customization are marked in the instructor books with an icon.

  • Verifying all URLs referenced in the course book, and updating as necessary.

  • Copying participant course books and any additional handouts. Consider binding the course books in some fashion (e.g., spiral-bound, three-ring notebooks) to make them easier to use during the class and more attractive as a reference tool. Handouts may be copied onto colored paper to distinguish them from one another.

  • Gathering general supplies. A list of basic items is available.

    Briefing Supplies:    Microsoft Word 2000 | PDF | RTF


After you determine your goals and audience for the briefing and set a date/time, you need to send out invitations about a month beforehand. You may want to invite more people than you actually want to come, given that probably not everyone will want to or be able to attend. Set a date for RSVPs (about two weeks before the session) to facilitate your preparation. If you get more positive responses than you can handle, start a waiting list in case earlier registrants drop out. An overwhelming response may indicate that you should add another session or perhaps consider offering the full-day workshop.

Invitations should include at least the following information:

  • The name of and contact information for the person(s) and organization(s) extending the invitation.
  • What they will learn during the briefing.
  • The date, time, and place of the session.
  • Fees, if any.
  • How to RSVP and the deadline for registration.

Sample invitations are available for both the metadata and XML briefings.

Metadata Briefing Invitation    Microsoft Word 2000 | PDF | RTF

XML Briefing Invitation    Microsoft Word 2000 | PDF | RTF


Briefing Materials
For each briefing, we have developed two course books: one for participants and one for instructors. The only difference between the two is that the instructor's book also contains a suggested "patter," the running narrative that accompanies each page. The patter for each briefing should be reviewed and customized to echo your own knowledge and experience.

Please note that all references and content information can only be considered current as of May 2003. It is your responsibility to verify the materials and update them as necessary.

Course books for the metadata and XML briefings are available.


Tips for Instructors
Based upon briefing experiences, we offer the following tips to organizers and instructors:

  • Projecting the participant course book pages as "slides" is essential because it helps participants track where you are in the material.

  • We chose to use Word 2000 rather than PowerPoint to create and maintain the projection slides and course books because more content fits on a page and it's easier to edit. We found, however, that it's difficult to project an entire page on-screen using Word. As an alternative, we created a PDF file of the slides from Word using Adobe Acrobat and then projected that using the "View Full Screen" option. Consider making the font of your presentation slides larger than the font in the course book for easier viewing. This could affect the amount of text which fits on a page, so to avoid confusion, reassure the participants that the content is indeed the same as what is in their books.

  • Practice your presentation and slide projection ahead of time to minimize the chances of technical difficulties during the actual session.

  • The patter included in the instructor's course book is just a guide; it's not written in stone. Don't just read the patter, but take the time to put the ideas in your own words and learn the material well enough ahead of time so that you only need to glance occasionally at your notes. This will give you more confidence as an instructor and help convince participants that you know what you're talking about. Consider making a list of possible questions participants might raise and then decide how you would answer those.

  • Sometimes participants will raise issues or questions that are better left until later in the session or that don't fit in at all. Rather than breaking the momentum of the material, tactfully note these items on a big sheet of paper and post them. At the end of the session, review this "parking lot" list. Many items may have been covered. Promise to follow-up on those that haven't been or explain why you won't.

  • Don't be afraid to say "I don't know," but follow it up with "but I will get back to you about that." Participants appreciate honesty more than hedging or guesses. Follow-up with the answer, or at least pointers to more information or another source, as soon after the briefing as possible.

  • Encourage questions and discussion, because many times, the people in the workshop know more than you about the topic or issue in question. Sessions where the instructor just drones on can be boring and turn participants off to the topic. Get them involved by having them talk about their own situations and experiences. In such a situation, learning becomes two-way - you will discover what's important to them, and they will have a chance to "customize" the briefing to meet their own needs. Of course, you must balance this with the amount of time you have, the amount of material you have to cover, and the number of participants. Large groups are often not conducive to productive discussion, a factor to keep in mind when issuing invitations. Be prepared to take firm control of the dialog if necessary to keep things moving.

  • Begin and end on time. Because this is only a few hours out of their day and, presumably, they have other commitments, participants will appreciate it if you stick to the schedule.

  • At the very end of the session, put your ego aside and conduct a quick "debriefing." This debriefing can take the form of first asking "What did we do well?" and then "What can we do better?" Jot down notes on two (or more) big sheets of paper. Stress that these thoughts can range from the seemingly trivial (e.g., good food, the room was too cold) to more substantive (e.g., wanted to learn more about metadata tools). This feedback will help you plan your next session and gives everyone the responsibility of helping to improve the briefing.

  • Keep in mind that not everyone likes to speak up publicly with their comments. Hand out course evaluation forms to be completed immediately or returned at a later time. Sample course evaluation forms are available for your review.

    Metadata Briefing Evaluation:    Microsoft Word 2000 | PDF | RTF

    XML Briefing Evaluation:    Microsoft Word 2000 | PDF | RTF

  • And, of course, don't forget to thank everyone profusely and shamelessly for their time and attention. Remind them that they should feel free to contact you to discuss the materials further or if they have any questions. Make yourself available as a resource!

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