4. Multiple Media fonds (Table of Contents)

Of multiple media fonds the RAD manual merely says:
To prepare the description of a multiple media fonds and its parts, consult chapter 1 and the relevant chapters dealing with the broad classes of material for the unit being described as instructed.... (Ch. 2)
It follows this with a list of what chapters and parts thereof should be consulted when doing each area of the description.

"Multiple media" means that the records on which the archivist is working contain samples of more than one class of material. Each time an archivist finds an envelope of photographs or a rolled-up poster in a box of textual records, s/he is dealing with a multiple media collection. The term "multiple media" should not be a cause for alarm.

Fonds, series, files and even items may be classed as multiple media (a letter with a photograph attached would be a multiple media item). Like electronic records and microforms, archivists describing multiple media collections will have to consult more than one chapter of RAD for the appropriate rulings.

The most significant differences between descriptions of different classes of records appear in the Physical Description Area (wherein is found the "Extent" element). The physical description of a map is going to be quite different from that of a photograph or a box of letters.

Things to remember about the Physical Description area:

1. Choose (as institutional policy) the maximum number of record types that can be described in the extent element. If more than that number exist in the fonds, describe the most common one and add "and other material". Use the Physical Description note to fill out the details. RAD suggests three as a maximum, which will suffice to describe most multiple media fonds without having to use the Physical Description note.

2. Separate descriptions of different classes of records by a ". -- " or put each one on a new line.

For example, the physical description of a multiple media fonds containing textual material, maps and photos might look like any of the following (in increasing order of complexity):
Extent: 10 m. of textual records and other records.

Extent: 10 m. of textual records. -- ca. 500 photographs. -- 15 maps. (This is the lazy way).

Extent: 10 m. of textual records. -- ca. 500 photographs : b&w ; 15 x 10 cm or smaller. -- 15 maps : both sides, col. ; 129 x 150 cm and 100 x 75 cm.