Monday, August 3, 2015

Introduction to archives

  • Identify, acquire, preserve, and provide access to the world’s published knowledge
  • Promote equity of access to information
  • Promote intellectual freedom
  • Support education and continuous learning and research
  • Support the development of information literacy in society
  • Serve as focal points for communities and promote community interests
  • Identify, acquire, preserve, and exhibit unique, collectible, or representative objects
  • Promote cultural, community, and familial identity and understanding
  • Provide experiences where visitors can make connections between content and ideas
  • Serve as memory institutions for a culture
  • Support formal and informal learning and research
  • Serve as focal points for communities and promote community interests
  • Identify, appraise, preserve, and make available documentary materials of long-term value (essential evidence) to the organization or public that the archives serve
  • Ensure the accountability of government by preserving public records and making them available to the citizenry as is legally and ethically appropriate
  • Preserve unique or collectible documents
  • Serve as memory institutions for a culture
  • Support scholarly, administrative, and personal research
  • Enduring Paradigm, New Opportunities: The Value of the Archival Perspective in the Digital Environment (Washington, D.C. : Council on Library Resources, February 2000)
History of archives
  • Archives house records selected for long-term retention and preservation
  • France was the focus for the centralization of archival holdings
    • Archives Nationales was formed in Paris in 1789
  • 1872 Canada created an archives branch
  • 1912 Public Archives of Canada created
    • (1952 National Library of Canada created)
  • 1987 National Archives of Canada created
  • 2004 Library and Archives Canada established; National Archivist, Ian Wilson became Librarian and Archivist of Canada
Types of archives: public
  • Public archives are maintained by federal, provincial, and municipal governments
  • Mission National Archives:
  • Archives of Manitoba: services to the public:
    • Preservation of Manitoba records from provincial and local governments, courts of law, school authorities, businesses, organizations, and individuals
    • Preservation of the records of the Hudson’s Bay Company reflecting its operations across the northern hemisphere and around the world since its establishment in London, England, in 1670
  • City of Winnipeg Archives and Records Control
    • Civic records are created, kept and managed because they contain information about decision-making, daily operations and service delivery. The City ensures that records required to meet legal and fiscal obligations are retained and that information is available when and where it is required.
    • In addition to their operational importance, records may have historical value. Records help us to define and understand our City. They are an irreplaceable part of the collective memory and cultural heritage of the City of Winnipeg. Archival programming facilitates the selection, preservation and research use of City records.
Types of archives: private
  • Private archives preserve the history of an institution, a corporation, or some entity other than the government
  • Canadian university and college archives constitute the largest segment of private archives
    • University of Manitoba. Archives & Special Collections
  • Other entities with significant archival collections include: religious institutions, hospitals, health care facilities, businesses such as banks
Archives profession
Purposes of archives
  • Preserve corporate memory
  • Provide product information
  • Provide policy direction
  • Provide personnel information
  • Provide financial information
  • Maintain public relations activities
  • Provide legal advantage
  • Provide research service
  • Prepare commemorative histories
Approaches to archives management
  • Unstructured internal approach
    • Individual(s) assigned task of sorting records to determine which should be preserved and which destroyed
    • Often done on an as needed rather than systematic basis to clear space for incoming records
    • Not usually a permanently assigned task
    • Inconsistencies when several persons sorting and making retention decisions
    • Method often used by small businesses and organizations
  • Structured internal approach
  • External approach
    • Preserve and maintain historical records in university archives, historical societies, provincial, national archives, etc.
    • Often more appropriate for organizations that have gone out of business, e.g. T. Eaton Company records held by Archives of Ontario; Winnipeg Tribune archives at U of M Archives
    • HBC archives housed in Archives of Manitoba 
Records appraisal
  • Usually 2-5% of total government or corporate records have lasting historical value
  • Records have two basic types of values
    • Primary (evidential or documentary)
    • Secondary (informational, research, or historical)
  • Archivist must identify records that
    • Document programs, policies, decision-making processes of an organization
  • Help archivist know when, where, why and how a company did or did not flourish
    • Include information about employee relations and civic involvement as well as bio data about major personalities in the organization
  • Documents with archival info typically
    • Minutes of board meeting, committee reports, annual reports, budget breakdowns, internal/external correspondence, policy/procedure manuals, special project reports, strategic planning statements, organization charts
Records selection
  • Depends on purpose of archives facility, for business archives
    • Will archives function as a purely administrative tool of the business?
    • Collections available only to insiders?
    • Will it serve scholars and other interested individuals?
    • Only company records collected or outside materials documenting organization’s role in community and civic affairs as well?
    • Will personal records of company officials be collected?
  • Records selection a two-phase operation
    • Determination of administrative units most likely to produce records of archival value
    • Determination of records types to be preserved and maintained
    • The content of records, rather than the age of records, dominates the selection decision
    • Final selection is based on organization’s perceived value of the records for future reference and research
    Records type
    • Archival records are not limited to paper documents, e.g.
      • Disney: films, books, comic books, press clippings, phonography records, still photos, insignia, character merchandise, employee publications, audioanimatronics, props, costumes, Disney memorabilia
      • Eli Lily: product samples, bottles, packaging material, anniversary souvenirs, advertising promotions
      • Photographs
      • Oral histories
    Determination of information value
    • Primary reference value
      • Info from archival records used internally has reference value primarily
    • Secondary research value 
      • Research value of archives most frequently lies with external users or organizational personnel researching development of organization’s policies, philosophy, performance, products, or people
    Responsibility for archives management
    • Three major schools of thought
      • Archives part of records management, records manager should be responsible
      • Archivist should be responsible for total system
      • Split responsibility
    Archives storage
    • Arrangement
      • Fonds: The whole of the records, regardless of form or medium, automatically and organically created and/or accumulated and used by a particular individual, family, or corporate body in the course of that creator’s activities or functions
      • Respect des fonds: The principle that the records of a person, family or corporate body must be kept together in their original order, if it exists or has been maintained, and not be mixed or combined with the records of another individual or corporate body.
    • Provenance
      • The person(s) or office(s) of origin of records, i.e. the person(s), family (families), or corporate body (bodies) that created and/or accumulated and used records in the course of that creator’s activities or functions.
        • The arrangement principle that records of a given unit within the organization be retained as a separate group rather than being interfiled with similar records of another unit.
    • Original order
      • Principle of original order preserves records in the same order in which they were filed in the office of origin
      • Principles of provenance and original order preserve file integrity by maintain the original records in the arrangement in which they were created and used.
    Five levels of arrangement
    1. Archival repository
    2. Archival fond (record group)
    3. Records series
    4. Filing unit
    5. Item

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