Today sees the start of Preservation Week, a week-long event promoting the role of libraries in preserving personal and public collections and treasures.
We have been asking some of our authors three preservation questions and will be publishing their answers throughout the week. First up we have Helen Forde and Jonathan Rhys-Lewis, authors of the second edition of Preserving Archives.
1. In your view, why is preservation awareness so important?
The preservation of material culture is crucial for society, for an appreciation of the past and for building blocks for the future. Archival preservation is a massively important part of this, given the crucial role which archives play in holding organisations and individuals to account, in documenting the past and ensuring the survival of corporate memory. Archives provide the structure of the past and without written evidence societies flourish only in the present. Historical examples demonstrate that however powerful a civilization may be, failure to preserve documentary culture eventually results in it being largely forgotten.
Ensuring that communities, government, businesses and individuals are all aware of the essential role of archives is a message that all those involved in the creation and care of written material need to spread widely. Too often, in the current throw-away or careless attitude of society, vital documentary evidence has been lost; this happens in government, in commercial organisations, in legal proceedings and in everyday life.
The message which needs to be heard is not that everything should be kept but that the selection of material to be preserved should be carried out logically and consistently to ensure that the full story can be told. Awareness of the material means of then preserving it for current and future use should ideally form part of the initial creation process. The selection of suitable carriers for information – stable inks, quality paper, stable digital platforms – is an essential part of the process of spreading the message about preservation and its importance throughout all societies.
2. What are some ways that libraries and archives can reach out to communities about the importance of preservation?
Good practice is often the result of emulation; if libraries, archives, museums, governments and organisations demonstrate their awareness of the importance of archival preservation, others are more likely to follow suit. An understanding of the consequences of neglect and decay can be demonstrated with illustrations of the weakness of poor quality paper, of the solubility of poor quality writing and printing inks and the inherent dangers of not migrating digital information on to stable platforms.
Conservators are good ambassadors for preservation, given that their skills are easily demonstrated and are always appreciated by the public. Any tour of a library, archive or museum can be guaranteed to come to a full stop in a conservation studio where the techniques, for both intervention and prevention, attract attention and lead to discussion. Planning open days and behind the scenes tours are a good way of demonstrating preservation in action, with conservation reserved for specialists.
Discussion and demonstration sessions held in-house with communities which struggle with the concept of preservation can be useful and demonstrate that it is good practice, rather than expensive additional activity, which contribute to the survival of archival material. Simple packaging with acid free paper or board, strategies for eliminating pests, planning against disasters and training volunteers to handle materials carefully are all possible within many communities and organisations without the expense of intervention techniques by conservators.
In addition, both librarians and archivists, in line with conservators, need to ensure that the professional organisations that represent them are also underlining the importance of preservation in enabling access. Providing information about the risks to materials, and outlining guidance to enable those with important collections to effectively respond to these risks, is also a vital way in which a wider impact can be achieved.
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?
The challenge of preserving the digital archive is now impacting on all governments, organisations and individuals. The security of information from access and tampering from other agencies is now critical, and so it is vital that appropriate and co-ordinated strategies to address the risks are in place. All citizens understand the importance of data, and especially personal information, and so new legislation, like the General Data Protection Regulation, is integral in defining our digital preservation needs.
Alongside this, organisations are responding to the further challenges of technical obsolescence by addressing the needs of the wider community via open source software and working more closely with the hardware and software providers. This is also reflected in the growth of digital specialists in the archive and library worlds, initially prompted by the needs of Freedom of Information, but now building pragmatic roles within organisations.
It seems that finally the world of archives and libraries is acknowledging that it is not possible, or morally and economically sustainable, to digitise all collections. This has resulted in some interesting developments in preservation policy and strategy, but also acknowledges that prioritisation is the key. This may be because of condition, sensitivity or just enabling access to information – the key role of preservation.
Helen Forde is a professional archivist who has worked in local authority, private and national archives. Until 2001 she was Head of Preservation Services at the UK national Archives, where she had previously been in charge of both the library and the Museum. She has taught preservation management and worked as an independent consultant on archives.
Jonathan Rhys-Lewis is preservation and collections management consultant with over 25 years experience within local government and as an independent consultant. He trains, lectures and publishes on preservation and preservation management.
Follow Preservation Week on Twitter using the hashtag
#preswk and look out for our other author interviews that we will be releasing throughout the week.
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Facet Publishing have announced the release of the second edition of Laura A Millar’s Archives: Principles and practices
Originally published in 2010, the second edition of the Waldo Gifford Leland Award-winning textbook, Archives: Principles and practices, has been extensively revised to address the impact of digital technologies on records and archives.
Written in clear language with lively examples, the book introduces core archival concepts, explains best-practice approaches and discusses the central activities that archivists need to understand to ensure the documentary materials in their charge are cared for as effectively as possible.
Author, Laura A Millar said,
Archivists search, sometimes in vain, for a balance between abstract theory and traditional practice, both of which can become increasingly arcane or impractical over time. My book seeks to strike a balance between principles and practices. It is as much a ‘why-to’ book as a ‘how-to’ book.
Part of the Principles and Practice in Records Management and Archives series, this book will be essential reading for archival practitioners, archival studies students and professors, librarians, museum curators, local authorities, small governments, public libraries, community museums, corporations, associations and other agencies with archival responsibility.
Laura A. Millar is an independent consultant in the fields of records, archives and information management, publishing and education. She has taught records, archives and information management courses in universities and colleges in Canada and internationally and is the author of dozens of books and articles on a range of topics. In 2010, the first edition of Archives: Principles and practices was awarded the prestigious Waldo Gifford Leland Award from the Society of American Archivists in recognition of its ‘superior excellence and usefulness in the fields of archival history, theory, or practice.’
More information about the book: http://www.facetpublishing.co.uk/title.php?id=302062
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Facet Publishing have announced the release of The Silence of the Archive by David Thomas, Simon Fowler and Valerie Johnson
In recent years big data initiatives, not to mention Hollywood, the video game industry and countless other popular media, have reinforced and even glamorized the public image of the archive as the ultimate repository of facts and the hope of future generations for uncovering ‘what actually happened’. The reality is, however, that for all sorts of reasons the record may not have been preserved or survived in the archive. In fact, the record may never have even existed – its creation being as imagined as is its contents. And even if it does exist, it may be silent on the salient facts, or it may obfuscate, mislead or flat out lie.
The Silence of the Archive, written by three expert and knowledgeable archivists, with a foreword by Anne J. Gilliland, draws attention to the many limitations of archives and the inevitability of their having parameters.
Co-author David Thomas said,
In The Silence of the Archive, we explore the question of whether archives are all that they seem. Are there silences, omissions and falsehoods which undermine their truth claims? Are their holdings, as some of us were taught, the unselfconscious products of administrative processes, or are they the products of powers relations? Is there a democratic deficit in archives?
The book, part of the Principles and Practice in Records Management and Archives series, will make compelling reading for professional archivists, records managers and records creators, postgraduate and undergraduate students of history, archives, librarianship and information studies, as well as academics and other users of archives.
About the authors:
David Thomas is a Visiting Professor at the University of Northumbria. Previously, he worked at The National Archives where he was Director of Technology and was responsible for digital preservation and for providing access to digital material.
Simon Fowler is an Associate Teaching Fellow at the University of Dundee where he teaches a course on military archives. Previously he worked at The National Archives for nearly thirty years.
Dr Valerie Johnson is Director of Research and Collections at The National Archives. She has worked as an archivist and a historian in the academic, corporate and public sectors.
Anne J Gilliland is Professor, Department of Information Studies, Director, Center for Information as Evidence, University of California, USA.
The series editor: Geoffrey Yeo is honorary researcher in archives and records management at University College London (UCL), London.
About the book:
The Silence of the Archive | May 2017 | 224pp
Paperback: 9781783301553 | Hardback: 9781783301560 | eBook: 9781783301577
Facet Publishing have announced the release of Engaging with Records and Archives: Histories and theories
Engaging with Records and Archives showcases the myriad ways in which archival ideas and practices are being engaged and developed and offers a selection of original, insightful and imaginative papers by emerging and internationally renowned scholars, taken from the Seventh International Conference on the History of Records and Archives (I-CHORA 7).
The book, edited by Fiorella Foscarini, Heather MacNeil, Bonnie Mak and Gillian Oliver, reveals the richness of archival thinking through compelling examples from a wide variety of views of records, archives and archival functions, spanning diverse regions, communities, disciplinary perspectives and time that will captivate the reader. Examples include the origins of contemporary grassroots archival activism in Poland, the role of women archivists in early 20th century England, the management of records in the Dutch East Indies in the 19th century, the relationship between Western and Indigenous cultures in North America and other modern archival conundrums.
The editors said, “Today, more than ever before, everyone, not only archives specialists, would benefit from a deeper and better informed engagement with archival objects and practices as they become increasingly engrained in our daily lives, from the pervasiveness of archival materials on the web, to the use of archive-based knowledge in all sciences, to the uncertainty about the preservation of our digital memories that we may all ex
perience sooner or later. The 11 essays selected for inclusion in this book explore different ways of historicizing and theorizing record making, recordkeeping and archiving pr
actices from a range of disciplinary perspectives and through the eyes of creators, custodians and users.”
Fiorella Foscarini PhD is an associate professor in the Faculty of
Information at the University of Toronto. She is Co-editor in Chief of the Records Management Journal and co-author of Records Management and Information Culture (Facet 2014)
Heather MacNeil PhD is a professor in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto where she teaches courses in the areas of archival theory and practice and the history of record keeping.
Bonnie Mak PhD is an associate professor at the University of Illinois, jointly appointed in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science and the Program in Medieval Studies. She teaches courses in the history and future of the book, reading practices, and knowledge production.
Gillian Oliver PhD is an associate professor at Victoria Univeristy of Wellington. She is the co-author of Records Management and Information Culture (Facet 2014) and Digital Curation, 2nd edition (Facet 2016) and is Co-editor in Chief of the journal Archival Science.
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Preserving our Heritage: Perspectives from antiquity to the digital age by Michele V Cloonan is the recipient of the 2016 Society of American Archivists’ Preservation Publication Award.
The book offers a unique compilation of key texts from a range of international contributors, charting the development of preservation from its origins to modern day practice and offers an overview of longevity, reversibility, enduring value and authenticity of information preservation.
The Awards Committee said “Preserving Our Heritage is undeniably a monumental achievement and a welcome contribution to the bookshelves of preservation professionals everywhere”.
Established in 1993, the SAA Preservation Publication Award recognises and acknowledges the author or editor of an outstanding published work related to archives preservation and, through this acknowledgement, encourages outstanding achievement by others.
The No-nonsense Guide to Archives and Recordkeeping is ideal for professionals involved in the management of archives and records, especially if they are just starting out or without formal training.
The book covers all aspects of recordkeeping and archives management. It follows the records’ journey from creation, through the application of classification and access techniques, evaluation for business, legal and historical value and finally to destruction or preservation and access in the archive.
Based on the internationally renowned training days run by the author and her business partner, the book deals with records and archives in all formats. It utilizes checklists, practical exercises, sample documentation, case studies and helpful diagrams to ensure a very accessible and pragmatic approach, allowing anyone to get to grips with the basics quickly.
The book is divided into four main work areas:
- current records: including creation, filing, classification and security
- records management: including aims, risks, planning, preparation and delivery
- archives management: including collecting policies, intellectual property rights, appraisal, digitization and outreach
- archival preservation: including policy, disaster prevention and repositories.
Author Margaret Crockett said, “managing records and archives is really interesting and rewarding but it is also really important: if we can’t tame our paper and digital mountains into manageable documentation which tells the story of our lives, our organisations and our societies we cannot prove the things we need to prove and lose our memory of the past. My book aims to set out clearly all you need to know to understand the basic principles and concepts which underpin this often underestimated but crucial activity”.
More information: http://www.facetpublishing.co.uk/title.php?id=048552#.VlRCwXbhDcs
Sample chapter: http://www.booksonix.co.uk/facetpublishing/9781856048552.pdf
Is Digital Different? focuses on the opportunities and challenges afforded by this new environment that is transforming the information landscape in ways that were scarcely imaginable a decade ago. The very existence of the traditional library and archive is being challenged as more resources become available online and computers and supporting networks become increasingly powerful.
The book draws on examples of the impact of other new and emerging technologies on the information sciences in the past and emphasises that information systems have always been shaped by available technologies that have transformed the creation, capture, preservation and discovery of content. It is edited by Michael Moss, Professor of Archiva
l Science at the University of Northumbria and Barbara Endicott-Popovsky, Executive Director of the Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity at the University of Washington,
Key topics covered include:
- Search in the digital environment
- RDF and the semantic web
- Crowd sourcing and engagement between institutions and individuals
- Development of information management systems
- Security: managing online risk
- Long term curation and preservation
- Rights and the Commons
- Finding archived records in the digital age.
Is Digital Different? illustrates the ways in which the digital environment has the potential to transform scholarship and break down barriers between the academy and the wider community, and draws out both the inherent challenges and the opportunities for information professionals globally.
This book will be of particular to students, particularly those on information studies programs, and academics, researchers and archivists globally.
Is Digital Different?; September 2015; paperback; 224pp; 9781856048545; £49.95; is published by Facet Publishing and is available from Bookpoint Ltd | Tel: +44 (0)1235 827702 | Fax: +44 (0)1235 827703 | Email: email@example.com | Web: www.facetpublishing.co.uk. | Mailing Address: Mail Order Dept, 39 Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4TD The US edition is available in North America through ALA Editions.