Category: Archives

A wide-ranging overview of how the shift to digital is changing the landscape of archives

Layout 1Facet Publishing announce the publication of Digital Archives:Management, use and access edited by Milena Dobreva.

Today, accessibility to digital content is continuing to expand rapidly and all organizations which collect, preserve and provide access to the collective memory of humankind are expected to provide digital services. Does this transition into digital space require a substantial shift in the professional philosophy, knowledge and practice of archives?

This edited collection attempts to explore these uncharted territories by bringing together inspirational and informative chapters from international experts to help readers understand the drivers for change and their implications for archives. Editor Milena Dobreva said,

“I hope the book will broaden and deepen the thinking and dialogue between all those academics, professionals and students who are working on different aspects of the digital cultural and scientific heritage”.

Reassessment of the role of archives in the digital environment serves to develop critical approaches to current trends in the broader heritage sector, including cultural industries experimenting with sustainable business models for cultural production, digitization of analogue cultural heritage, and the related IPR issues surrounding the re-use of digital objects and data for research, education, advocacy and art.

Professor Kalpana Shankar said,

“Archives and access continue to matter, perhaps more than ever. As digital material proliferates and the tools to manipulate it do so as well, what is real and what is false online become difficult to disambiguate. Human rights, scientific research and ‘wicked’ geopolitical problems (and solving them) rests on accurate and universal access to records and data, whether one is talking about the international crises of forced migration and refugees, human rights, political corruption or climate change. The work of this book is in helping us, the reader, understand how archives and archivists navigate the entanglement of technical, social, organizational and legal challenges they face daily”.

Dr. Milena Dobreva is an Associate Professor at UCL Qatar where she is coordinating the MA in Library and Information Studies leading the introduction of four pathways in the programme including a specialisation on Archives, Records and Data Management. Previously she served as a Head of the Department of Library Information and Archive Sciences at the University of Malta spearheading the redesign and expansion of the departmental portfolio, and as the Founding Head of the first Digitisation Centre in Bulgaria where she was also a member on the Executive Board of the National Commission of UNESCO. Milena is a member of the editorial board of the IFLA Journal, and of the International Journal on Digital Libraries (IJDL) and is the co-editor of User Studies for Digital Library Development (Facet, 2012).

Contributors
Carla Basili, Italian National Research Council and Sapienza University; Pierluigi Feliciati, University of Macerata; Edel Jennings, Waterford Institute of Technology; Enrico Natale, University of Basel; Gillian Oliver, Monash University; Elli Papadopoulou,  European Open Science Cloud pilot project; Oleksandr Pastukhov, University of Malta; Guy Pessach, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Trudy Huskamp Peterson, archival consultant and certified archivist; Panayiota Polydoratou, Alexander Technological Educational Institute (ATEI) of Thessaloniki; Kalpana Shankar, University College Dublin; Sotirios Sismanis, information professional; Donald Tabone, Middlesex University, Malta.

Stay up-to-date with all the latest books from Facet by signing up to our mailing list

Advertisements

New edition of the go-to reference for students and RIM professionals

9781783304301.jpgFacet Publishing announce the publication of Records and Information Management, 2nd edition by Patricia C Franks.

The first edition of Records and Information Management was described by Archives and Records as, ‘a valuable up to date combined textbook and reference book which will enhance its readers’ knowledge irrespective of their place on the career ladder’.  Since its publication in 2013, the records and information field has evolved considerably with the growth of the internet of things; the extreme volume and variety of data produced more quickly than ever; the increased necessity of employing technology to categorize, analyze, and make use of the data; the recognition of the value of information assets; and the emergence of new business models that leverage the power of algorithms to manipulate data.

The new second edition cements this work’s status as an up-to-date classic, with its content updated and expanded to address emerging technologies, most notably blockchain and evolving standards and practices. Franks presents complete coverage of the records and information lifecycle model, encompassing paper, electronic (databases, office suites, email), and new media records (blogs, chat messages, and software as a service). Informed by an advisory board of experts in the field and with contributions by noted authorities, the text addresses such key topics as the origins and development of records and information; the discipline of information governance and developing a strategic records management plan; creation/capture and classification; retention strategies, inactive records management, archives, and long-term preservation; access, storage, and retrieval; electronic records and electronic records management systems; the latest on rapidly evolving technologies such as web records, social media, and mobile devices; vital records, disaster preparedness and recovery, and business continuity; monitoring, auditing, and risk management; and education and training.

Patricia C Franks said,

‘The breadth of knowledge expected of the successful records professional continues to expand. It now includes the need to better understand not only the business process but also the goals of the organization from a business perspective…this book, therefore, differs from traditional records management works by placing equal emphasis on business operations out of which records arise and the ways in which the records professional can contribute to the core mission of the enterprise beyond the lifecycle management of records.’

The book’s authoritative blend of theory and practice makes it a matchless resource for everyone in the archives and records management field, including archivists, records managers, and information managers, regardless of their job title (e.g. digital archivist, knowledge management advisor, information governance specialist).

Patricia C Franks is an associate Professor in the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) at San Jos̩ State University in California, where she serves as the Master of Archives and Records Administration (MARA) Program Coordinator and the SLIS Internship Program Coordinator. Dr. Franks supervises virtual interns and teaches courses related to information organizations and management, archival studies, and records management. Her professional activities include working with ARMA International, most recently as Consensus Group Leader for both ANSI/ARMA 1-2011 Implications of Web-Based, Collaborative Technologies in Records Management and ARMA TR 21-2012 Using Social Media in Organizations.

Stay up-to-date with all the latest books from Facet by signing up to our mailing list

New book imagines the archive of the future

Chambers Cat 2.02.qxdFacet Publishing announce the publication of Archival Futures edited by Caroline Brown.

It is widely acknowledged that the archival discipline is facing a time of change. The digital world has presented changes in how records are created, used, stored and communicated. At the same time, there is increased public debate over issues such as ownership of and access to information and its authenticity and reliability in a networked and interconnected world.

Archival Futures draws on the contributions of a range of international experts to consider the current archival landscape and imagine the archive of the future. Firmly rooted in current professional debate and scholarship, the book offers thought provoking and accessible chapters that aim to challenge and inspire archivists globally and to encourage debate about their futures. Chapters cover the role of archives in relation to individuals, organisations, communities and society; how appraisal, arrangement, description and access might be affected in the future; changing societal expectations in terms of access to information, how information is exchanged, and how things are recorded and remembered; the impact of new technologies, including blockchain and automation; the place of traditional archives and what ‘the archive’ is or might become; the future role of the archive profession; and archives as authentic and reliable evidence

Tom Nesmith (University of Manitoba), said

‘Archives play a unique and powerful role in making the past available for an extraordinary array of current purposes. But do archives have a future, particularly given disruptive changes in communication technologies? Archival Futures addresses this and other challenges to find ways forward for the now pivotal role of archives in society.’

The book will appeal to an international audience of students, academics and practitioners in archival science, records management, and library and information science.

Caroline Brown is Programme Leader for the archives programmes at the Centre for Archive and Information Studies at the University of Dundee where she is also University Archivist.. She is a Chair of Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland’s) Conference Committee, sits on its Professional Development Committee, having formerly served as the Chair of the Education, Training and Development Committee, and is a member of the Executive Committee for ARA Scotland. She is a sits on the Section Bureau of the International Council on Archives Section on Archival Education and is active in ICA/SUV . She is an Arts and Humanities Research Council Peer Review College and Panel Member and has written and spoken on a range of archival and recordkeeping issues. She is the editor of Archives and Recordkeeping: Theory into practice (Facet, 2013).

Contributors
Jenny Bunn, University College London; Luciana Duranti, University of British Columbia; Joanne Evans, Monash University; Craig Gauld, University of Dundee; Victoria Lemieux, University of British Columbia; Michael Moss, Northumbria University; Gillian Oliver, Monash University; Sonia Ranade, The National Archives; Barbara Reed, consultant; Kate Theimer, writer, speaker and commentator; David Thomas, Northumbria University; Frank Upward, Monash University; Geoffrey Yeo University College London.

 

Stay up-to-date with all the latest books from Facet by signing up to our mailing list

Why do records managers – and archivists – like to talk so much about information?

Guest post by Geoffrey Yeo, author of Records, Information and Data: Exploring the role of record-keeping in an information culture

marcus-rahm-171967-unsplash.jpg

If you look at older books about record-keeping (Hilary Jenkinson’s famous 1922 Manual of Archive Administration, for example), you may notice that information is hardly mentioned at all. Even in the 1970s, when I was among a bunch of students learning about archives and records management, the tutors who instructed us rarely said anything that linked records with information.

But in today’s discussions of record-keeping we hear about information all the time. Some records professionals say that records – and archives – contain information. Some say that records are a kind of information: a kind that needs to be managed in a special way. Others say that ‘information objects’ become records when someone selects them for preservation or captures them in a record-keeping system; or that information is a record when it can be used as evidence. And growing numbers of records managers now affirm that distinctions between records and information are of little importance, that they are disappearing, or that no-one cares about them any longer.

Something very interesting is going on. Records professionals are putting forward a great variety of opinions, but they all connect records – in one way or another – to information. It becomes even more interesting when you look at some of the things that philosophers have said about information. John Searle describes information as ‘one of the most confused and ill-defined notions in contemporary intellectual life’. Fred Dretske points out that ‘if you think information is important … you must have some vague idea of what it is. … It is easy enough to find people who think they know what it is, but very hard to find two people who agree.’ If information is such a nebulous and precarious concept, why does it have such a high profile? Why have records professionals given it so much emphasis in recent years?

Of course, the records profession isn’t the only professional group that has chosen to frame its practices in terms of ‘information’. Librarians, data analysts, statisticians, knowledge managers and computer scientists all claim that their work is focused on information and its capture, control or use. As Dretske puts it, ‘a lot of people these days want their product to be (or at least be intimately related to) information. So everybody ends up talking about his or her product as information. … There is a mess in this area and, as a result, a lot of confusion’.

I’ve explored these questions in my new book Records, Information and Data (Facet Publishing, 2018). In the book, I look at when and how concepts of information (and information management) became fashionable among records professionals. I also investigate the question of how records and information are, or might be, related: a question that isn’t as easy to answer as it might seem. I argue that seeing records in terms of information doesn’t give us a full picture of how records operate. Undoubtedly, users of records may view them as informative. But at the moment of their creation, records aren’t just a matter of information; they have distinctive roles in performing social actions. Many kinds of actions – some simple, others more complex – can be performed using records, and defining records as information crucially overlooks their performative aspects. People may expect to gain information from using records, but information and records aren’t identical. Information isn’t what records contain, or what records are; it’s an intangible benefit that records can offer to their users.

Not everyone will agree with my conclusions. Some, I’m sure, will violently disagree. I’d like to know what other people think. And I’d like to know whether reading my book helps them to focus their thoughts on the place of records and record-keeping in today’s society.

About the author

Geoffrey Yeo is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at University College London. He writes about many different aspects of archives and records management. His personal webpage is at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/information-studies/geoffrey-yeo.

 

References

J. Searle, Making the Social World (Oxford University Press, 2010), p.71

F. Dretske, ‘The Metaphysics of Information’, in Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Information, ed. A. Pichler & H. Hrachovec (Ontos, 2008), pp.273-4.

Geoffrey Yeo investigates the relationships between information, data and records

Chambers Cat 2.02.qxdFacet Publishing announce the release of Records, Information and Data: Exploring the role of record-keeping in an information culture by Geoffrey Yeo.

In a society that increasingly emphasizes digital information and data, questions arise about the place of longer-established concepts such as records and archives. Records, Information and Data sets out to investigate the relationships between information (or data) and records, and, to examine the place of record-making and record-keeping in today’s information culture.

Eric Ketelaar, Professor Emeritus of Archivistics at the University of Amsterdam said, “Yeo’s book argues that the prevalent discourse which equates records simply with information or data is wrong. His innovative analysis of the performativity of records results in a fascinating new conceptual and practical understanding of the roles of records and archives in social action. Professionals in handling records, information and data, as well as users of records and archives and everyone interested in ‘the archive’, will gain from this perceptive and highly readable book a new comprehension of past, present and future information cultures.”

The book starts with an exploration of the concepts of records and archives; setting today’s record-keeping and archival practices in their historical context whilst examining changing perceptions of how these concepts are understood. It asks whether and how far understandings derived from the fields of information management and data science/administration can enhance our knowledge of how records function. Finally, it argues that concepts of information and data cannot provide a fully adequate basis for reflective professional thinking about records and that record-keeping practices still have distinct and important roles to play in contemporary society.

Professor Emeritus at The University of British Columbia, Terry Eastwood praised “Yeo’s searching examination” and said that “everyone in the records field or aspiring to enter it should read this book and ponder its many cogent arguments.”

Geoffrey Yeo is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Information Studies at University College London, UK. His previous work for Facet includes Managing records: a handbook of principles and practice (with Elizabeth Shepherd, 2003), and Managing records in global financial markets (with Lynn Coleman, Victoria Lemieux and Rod Stone, 2011).

Stay up-to-date with all the latest books from Facet by signing up to our mailing list

 

The Persistence of Preservation

To finish up Preservation Week we’ve got a re-post of an article that Michele Cloonan wrote for CILIP in 2016 about the destruction of cultural heritage.

800px-Temple_of_Baal-Shamin,_Palmyra

The title of a recent book by Alicia Ely Yamin, Power, Suffering, and the Struggle for Dignity: Human Rights Frameworks for Health and Why They Matter (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015), caught my eye. The book focuses on human-rights-based approaches to health and development. “The ultimate concern” of the book, to quote from the publisher’s blurb, “is to promote movement from analysis to action, so that we can begin to use human rights frameworks to effect meaningful social change in global health, and beyond.” Could the phrase “preservation of cultural heritage” be substituted in the title of a hypothetically titled parallel book?

Most of us don’t equate preservation with human rights

henry-dunant-francis-lieber

While most of us don’t equate preservation with human rights, the relationship has been touched on at least as early as the nineteenth century—although the destruction of cultural heritage has taken place for as long as there has been heritage. In the nineteenth century the concept of human rights was considered in the context of war. Swiss businessman and reformer Henri Dunant was an organiser of the First Geneva Conference for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded Armies in the Field (1863-64) and a founder of the Red Cross (see his Memory of Solferino [Geneva, Switzerland: International Committee of the Red Cross, 1986]).

At just about the same time as these activities were taking place in Europe, Francis Lieber, a German jurist who settled in the United States, prepared for the Union Army General Orders No. 100: Instructions for the Government of the Armies of the United States in the Field, better known as the Lieber Code; it established rules for the humane treatment of civilians in areas of conflict and forbade the execution of prisoners of war. Further it sought the protection of works of art, scientific collections, and hospitals in war-torn areas. These ideas were further developed in the Hague Peace Conferences that were held from 1899-1907 and in the later Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954 and the 1999 Second Protocol). Excerpts of these codes, conventions, and protocols are included in chapter 9 of my Preserving Our Heritage: Perspectives from Antiquity to the Digital Age (London: Facet, 2015).

Why can’t we protect cultural heritage?

Giant standing Buddhas of Bamiyan still cast shadows

Since the publication of my book—and as armed conflicts in the Middle East have escalated, and countless works of heritage continue to be destroyed—I have found myself continuing to think about the relationship between human rights and preservation. Why can’t we protect cultural heritage? It is not that international efforts haven’t been made; International Humanitarian Law seeks to balance humanitarian concerns with military necessity. Yet over and over again the world watches as cultural heritage is destroyed—often in dramatic and defiant ways. Most of the perpetrators will never be charged, let alone tried.

This destruction is sometimes described as cultural genocide. The term genocide was coined by jurist and human rights advocate Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959). It is based on the Greek word genos (race, tribe) and the Latin caedere (killing). (See his 1944 book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation, Analysis of Government, Proposals for Redress, 2nd ed. [Clark, NJ: The Lawbook Exchange, 2008, pp. 79-95.) He meant for genocide to correspond to such words as homicide, infanticide, fratricide, and so on. In Axis Rule Lemkin identified eight components of genocide, which he reduced to three when he was campaigning for a Genocide Convention: physical, biological, and cultural.

Significantly, for Lemkin the term referred to human massacre as well as the destruction of a people’s art and culture. In other words, genocide represented crimes against humans as well as humanity. Lemkin was determined that genocide be adopted by the United Nations as the word to describe these crimes. And it was, in The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948). However, for reasons that I explain in my forthcoming book, Monumental Preservation, the term was defined more narrowly to refer only to mass killings and not the often concomitant crime of destroying the culture of the vanquished people. Since the framing of that U.N. document, and after Lemkin’s death, the term cultural genocide was coined to refer to the destruction of cultural heritage.

Cultural genocide is not yet recognised in international law

Cultural genocide per se is not yet recognised in international law. Yet that is beginning to change as international courts are recognizing that physical and biological attacks are often carried out in concert with the destruction of religious and/or cultural property (see Shamiran Mako, “Cultural Genocide and Key International Instruments: Framing the Indigenous Experience,” International Journal on Minority and Group Rights 19 [2012]: 175-94, about post WWII efforts to acknowledge the rights of indigenous peoples). It is probably only a matter of time before a case involving cultural genocide is successfully tried.

However, international laws will never stop the seemingly ongoing destruction of heritage sites. Nor will “soft power,” the attempt by organisations such as UNESCO “to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures, and peoples, based on respect for commonly shared values” (see the UNESCO website). And what if there are not always shared values? UNESCO has been criticised for promoting Western—even European—notions of heritage in the non-western world (e.g., Rodney Harrison, Heritage:Critical Approaches [London: Routledge, 2013]).

What if the group that sets out to destroy cultural heritage creates its own grand narrative about the importance of that destruction? For example, if one group seeks to impose its identity on another by destroying the culture of the vanquished group? Has UNESCO framed the notion of universally shared heritage in the most effective way? Every new country, era, civilization is the accretion of everything tangible and intangible that has come before. It will almost never be possible to completely vanquish that which has come before us.

Perhaps we can model preservation itself in a more nuanced way. Below are some of the motivations and behaviors associated with preservation, as well as some emerging approaches to preservation.

Motivations

  • Legal
  • Corporate (profit motive, e.g. Facebook, Inc.)
  • Corporate (legacy/history/pride/archives/records/memory)
  • Patriotic
  • Religious
  • Propagandistic
  • Governmental
  • Social [as distinct from cultural]
  • Personal (preserving family papers, mementos)
  • Administrative (legal or political mandate)
  • Deterministic (preservation as destiny)
  • Matriarchal/Patriarchal
  • Stewardship
  • Scholarly/academic
  • Save what we can profit most by
  • [Or destroy, for almost all of the above reasons]

Behaviours

  • Imperialist (we came, we saw, we conquered, we appropriated/expropriated cultural heritage objects)
  • Hording or clean-sweep approach: save everything you can
  • Last-ditch effort: save anything you can (war-time approach, or in historic preservation, wrecking-ball approach)
  • Save last copies
  • People’s choice: save the best (“doxa” or popular opinion)
  • Judgmental: save according to carefully delineated criteria
  • Elitist: we save what should be saved & for whom it should be saved
  • Principle of Least Effort : we won’t bother with it until we have to. (Or, we will save only that which has already deteriorated.)
  • Benign neglect (perhaps less intentional than the Principle of Least Effort)
  • Administrative: save what must be saved
  • Pragmatic: save at a measured rate
  • Stewardship: we have a responsibility to save
  • Save: but we continue to use it—and museums must understand that
  • Don’t save: it has fulfilled its earthly purpose
  • Don’t save: its survival is anathema to our beliefs
  • Don’t save: we have a right to destroy it

Emerging

  • Social networking: positive and negative (records destruction and promotes propaganda)
  • Personal Information Management (PIM)
  • Attempt to create true digital preservation
  • Reformatting into the future best forms of “preservation” for specific kind of data audiences
  • Enhanced tools for documentation
  • New tools for community engagement and outreach
  • [For example, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear 3/11/11 disaster, in which citizens
  • recovered thousands of photographs on land and in the water, and put them up on the web. In some instances families and their photos have been reunited.] These are some of the ways in which I have tried to situate preservation on the global stage. I welcome your feedback about other ways in which we can think about the role of preservation in our lives.

These are some of the ways in which I have tried to situate preservation on the global stage. I welcome your feedback about other ways in which we can think about the role of preservation in our lives.

Michele Valerie Cloonan is Dean Emerita and Professor at the Graduate School of Library & Information Science, Simmons College.9781856049467

You can find out more about Michele’s book, Preserving our Heritage, here.

Follow Preservation Week on Twitter using the hashtag  and look out for our other author interviews that we will be releasing throughout the week.

Want to hear more from Facet and stay up-to-date with our latest books?

Sign up to our mailing list here

References

Image sources:

henry-dunant-francis-lieber.jpg” by CILIP is used under CC BY-SA 2.0. It is a derivative of the following works:

Giant standing Buddhas of Bamiyan still cast shadows [Image 2 of 8]” by DVIDSHUB, used under CC BY 2.0 / original cropped and resized

3 Preservation Questions: Michele Cloonan

In the last of our author interviews for Preservation Week, today we’ve got Michele Cloonan, editor of Preserving our Heritage.

Cloonan

1. In your view, why is preservation awareness so important?

I am in the UK right now. Just yesterday I toured a historic site that included treasures from its rich archives. The archivist showed us autographs and sketches by well known artists. Some of the bindings were in poor shape, but the inks and papers were in very good condition. After we all admired the wonderful items, the archivist said, “You’ll be glad to know that we have just digitized everything so you will have easy access to the materials. We are currently looking into off-site storage facilities for the originals.” One of the people on the tour, with real pain in her voice, asked “does that mean that we will never be able to see the originals again?” Everyone else in the group nodded in accord. A discussion ensued, and the archivist assured us that we could see the originals if we made special requests, though depending on where the collections will be stored, it might take a while to retrieve them.

It was enlightening to be in the role of the general public, and I didn’t offer any perspectives; I just listened. The lesson that I took away is that we aren’t doing a very good job of explaining to the public what the role of digitization is in a preservation program. The archivist inadvertently made it sound as though the digitized records would replace the originals. The public expects us to effectively steward our collections, which belong to us collectively.

We need to get a positive message out there: digitization gives the user 24/7 access, but this kind of access doesn’t diminish the importance of–and access to–the original.

2. What are some ways that libraries and archives can reach out to communities about the importance of preservation?

How about a Preservation Roadshow, or Preservation Library Show? Or regular workshops? In public libraries we could hold sessions in which we invite people to bring in items in need of repair, or perhaps re-formatting. I remember a few years ago Parade Magazine advised people to re-format their old home movies and throw away the originals. Now, people are advised to save everything “in the cloud.” Lots of people think that they are preserving their photos on Facebook, or on their phones. They don’t realize how vulnerable their digital collections are.

It was a lot easier to explain deterioration to people in the “brittle book era.” The landscape is far more complex now. We need to prepare kits or educational packages for the public. We should do this at the national level, too. LC, the British Library, and some other institutions have information on their websites, but there needs to be even more out there. We need an effective update to Slow Fires which didn’t offer advice. Instead, it painted a rather gloomy picture.

3. Digital collections are growing fast, and their formats are prone to obsolescence. What are some current or proposed digital collection initiatives from cultural institutions that give you hope for the future?

Over the past twenty years there have been a number of magnificent projects: American Memory at the Library of Congress, Europeana, the Digital Public Library of America. The challenge is for projects to develop funding strategies that will assure that programs are sustainable.

There is also the need for major institutions to do the appropriate strategic planning for digital preservation. For example, the British Library’s 2020 plan to preserve their digital collections in a trusted digital repository is a positive initiative.

Michele Valerie Cloonan is Dean Emerita and Professor at the Graduate School of Library & Information Science, Simmons College.9781856049467

You can find out more about Michele’s book, Preserving our Heritage, here.

Follow Preservation Week on Twitter using the hashtag  and look out for our other author interviews that we will be releasing throughout the week.

Want to hear more from Facet and stay up-to-date with our latest books?

Sign up to our mailing list here