Archival futures – Appraisal and Description

 TASK

Background

Over the past 30 years there have been numerous calls for records professionals to update and improve archival practices including appraisal and description (Bearman, 1989; Cook, 2011; Yeo, 2018). The need to develop contemporary approaches to appraisal and description is still evident today. The exponential influence of technology on the ways in which records are created and managed, and on the manner in which records professionals relate to records and stakeholders make change an imperative.

As a direct result of the records/technology nexus, we now see the emergence of participatory appraisal, digital appraisal and a participatory approach to description. However, there is still little or no consensus on how best to approach appraisal and description in the digital world. The challenges are many.

Your task

Define, discuss and critically analyse current issues and trends in appraisal and description in the digital environment. In doing so give consideration to:

  • the roles that stakeholders such as records creators, people who are the subjects of records, and the wider community may have in making appraisal decisions;
  • the role that users as stakeholders can have in enhancing descriptive information about records and archives using tools such as tagging, social bookmarking and crowd-sourcing;
  • the challenges facing appraisal and description in the digital environment;
  • the impact of technology on appraisal and description; and
  • different viewpoints on appraising digital records.

In addressing participatory appraisal, rather than summarising the history of appraisal practice, you should focus on recent approaches. Define, discuss and critically analyse who the external stakeholders are, giving examples from your reading. Suggest some of the possible implications for recordkeeping of this broader participation in appraisal now and into the future.

In addressing digital appraisal, rather than summarising the history of appraisal practice, you should focus on recent approaches. Define, discuss and critically analyse digital appraisal and discuss the current trends and issues in digital appraisal. Explain and compare the options and solutions being suggested to address the issues. Comment on the benefits and risks associated with appraising digital records.

In addressing description, you should focus on the opportunities for users to contribute to describing records and archives using Web 2.0 tools, rather than the general impact of Web 2.0 on organisational recordkeeping practices. Using the principles of Records Management 2.0 (Bailey, 2008), in particular principles 7-10, explain how records managers and archivists might work with users to improve description. Identify and critically analyse some of the risks involved in moving away from traditional methods of titling and describing records and archives.

References

Bailey, S. (2008). Managing the crowd: Rethinking records management for the Web 2.0 world. Facet Publishing.

Bearman, D. (1989). Archival methods (Technical report #9). Archives and Museum Informatics.

http://www.archimuse.com/publishing/archival_methods/

Cook, T. (2011).‘We are what we keep; we keep what we are’: Archival appraisal past, present and future. Journal of the Society of Archivists, 32(2), 173-189.

Yeo, G. (2018). Can we keep everything? The future of appraisal in a world of digital profusion. In C. Brown (Ed.), Archival futures (pp.45-63). Facet Publishing.

Suggestions for starting your research (provided by tutor)

Australian Society of Archivists. (2007). Statement on appraisal. https://www.archivists.org.au/documents/item/12

Bailey, S. (2008). Managing the crowd: Rethinking records management for the Web 2.0 world. Facet Publishing.

Bearman, D. (1989). Archival methods (Technical report #9).Archives and Museum

Informatics. http://www.archimuse.com/publishing/archival_methods/

Caswell, M. (2020). Feeling Liberatory Memory Work: On the Archival Uses of Joy and Anger. Archivaria, 90, 148–164.

Cook, T. (2011). ‘We are what we keep; we keep what we are’: Archival appraisal past, present and future. Journal of the Society of Archivists, 32(2), 173-189.

Gibbons, L. (2020). Community Archives in Australia: A Preliminary Investigation. Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association, 69(4), 451–472. https://doi.org/10.1080/24750158.2020.1831900

Huvila, I. (2015). The unbearable lightness of participating? Revisiting the discourses of “participation” in archival literature. Journal of Documentation, 71(2), 358-386.

International Council on Archives. (2011). ISAD(G): General international standard archival description (2nd ed.).

https://www.ica.org/en/isadg-general-international-standard-archivaldescription-second-edition

MacNeil, H., & Eastwood, T. (Eds.). (2017). Currents of archival thinking (2nd ed.). Libraries Unlimited.

Millar, L. (2017). Archives: Principles and practices (2nd. ed.). Facet Publishing.

NARA. (2018). Citizen archivist dashboard.

https://www.archives.gov/citizen-archivist

Yeo, G. (2017). Continuing debates about description. In H. MacNeil & T. Eastwood (Eds.), Currents in archival thinking (2nd ed.) (pp. 163-185). Libraries Unlimited.

Yeo, G. (2018). Can we keep everything? The future of appraisal in a world of digital profusion. In C. Brown (Ed.), Archival futures (pp.45-63). Facet Publishing.

* I will also upload some other references that I found.

Rationale

This assessment task will assess the following learning outcome/s:

  • be able to critically reflect on various approaches to appraisal, and apply this knowledge to professional practice in the disposal of records.
  • be able to synthesise and critically reflect on issues surrounding standards and processes involved in acquiring and describing records.

 

Appraisal is a critical area of records and archives practice. It is important for students to know about current approaches to appraisal and how they differ from traditional approaches. One major change has been that records professionals now acknowledge that there are stakeholders outside the organisation which creates the records. Developments in technology and the continuing growth in the number of born digital records also signals the need for major change in appraisal theory and practice.

Description is another key area of practice where students need to be aware of the potential of technological change, Web 2.0 in particular, to affect traditional practice and standards. Students need to be aware of and to be able to analyse the risks as well as the benefits of the emerging participatory environment. Students need to be aware of, and be able to analyse, the risks as well as the benefits of appraisal and description in the digital environment.

Total: 40 marks

Your essay will be expected to be:

– Your essay should have innovative and critical discussion of appraisal practice including an in-depth analysis of various stakeholders and their interests. (10 marks)

 

– Your essay should have insightful critical analysis of trends issues and risks in the appraisal of digital records drawing on impressive examples. (10 marks)

– Your essay should have insightful and critical discussion of issues in user contributions to description, drawing on impressive examples of use of Web 2.0 tools. (10 marks)

 

– Your essay should have demonstrated through wide-ranging and authoritative references and insightful use of examples throughout. (5 marks)

 

– Excellently written. Free from grammatical and spelling errors. All sources acknowledged with high standard of referencing, using APA 7th style. Essay is within word count. (5 marks)

 

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