Archives and the Public Good: Accountability and Records in Modern Society

Archives and the Public Good: Accountability and Records in Modern Society

Archives and the Public Good: Accountability and Records in Modern Society

Archives and the Public Good: Accountability and Records in Modern Society

Synopsis

This volume widens the perspective of the roles that records play in society. As opposed to most writings in the discipline of archives and records management, which view records from cultural, historical, and economical efficiency dimensions, this volume highlights one of the most salient features of records: the role they play as sources of accountability. The authors demonstrate that records are not mute observers and recordings of activity, rather, they are frequently objects of memory formation and erasure.

Excerpt

This book, like most books on its topic, originates with the editors’ personal and professional experiences. At times we have followed different paths prior to our decision to collaborate on this volume, one of us having worked for years in traditional archives and records management programs, the other with years of experience in an untraditional archives with a mission to make previously classified federal records more readily accessible. However, over the past fifteen years our paths have also crossed as both teacher and student, remarkably at two different universities, and presently in the classroom educating future archivists, records managers, and other information professionals. Over this time we have become both colleagues and friends, all the while constantly rediscovering that we share similar convictions about the importance of records in our society and the need to educate professionals who understand that records are not only artifacts for use by historians and genealogists but that they are also essential sources of evidence and information providing the glue that holds together, and sometimes the agent that unravels, organizations, governments, communities, and societies. Even if the records of a society or organization are not used in the way they are intended, the process of creating and maintaining records takes on powerful symbolism for that society or organization.

The immediate origins of this book were our convictions but also the perception of the need for record-focused case studies both for use in the classroom and to communicate and promote to a wider audience the significance of the roles records play in constituting society. We are both incessant book buyers and readers, mostly focused on the search for studies—from as many disciplines . . .

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