Records and Archives Book Covers Wide Swath of Multicultural Interests, Divergent Approaches

By Barnes, Nancy Dupre | Information Management, March/April 2017 | Go to article overview

Records and Archives Book Covers Wide Swath of Multicultural Interests, Divergent Approaches


Barnes, Nancy Dupre, Information Management


Records and Archives Book Covers Wide Swath of Multicultural Interests, Divergent Approaches

Engaging with Records and Archives: Histories and Theories is recommended reading for archivists seeking diverse, global viewpoints in archival science and recordkeeping practices. It is a carefully curated compilation of works authored by individuals from a variety of archival settings.

The focus of each of the 11 chapters is, generally, non-North American and mostly European; authors working in countries such as Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and the UK are highlighted. There is a chapter devoted to recordkeeping developments in the sub-Saharan, African nation of Malawi and a chapter on archival ethics that contains a case study involving native, tribal peoples of Canada, also.

Unique Retrospectives

The five chapters in Part 1 are classified as "Rethinking Histories and Theories." This is an apt descriptor for these macro, theory-based works. In contrast, Part 2, "Engaging Records and Archives," represents findings at a grassroots level and provides six chapters of unique retrospectives and lessons learned.

The book's editors are, themselves, recognized leaders and respected educators in the archival community. The "Editors' Introduction" section offers insights into the publication's genesis, stating that the book was compiled from papers presented in 2015 at the Seventh International Conference on the History of Records and Archives (I-CHORA 7).

The 2015 conference was sited in Amsterdam, but it has been held in various locations over the years, including the United States. While a limited number of participants may be able to attend these biennial conferences, the availability of this book allows readers around the world to gain access to others' scholarly efforts and in-the-field experiences.

The Danger of Digital

The chapter "Mapping Archival Silence: Technology and the Historical Record" may be of particular interest to information governance practitioners and records managers. The discussion of digital technologies and their effect on information management is thought-provoking.

The author posits that where there is digitization, the specter of "archival silence" looms. According to the author, archival silence is described as either "gaps or omissions in a body of original records" or "materials that are not available in formats useful for scholarly research." The ever-expanding trove of digitized records, whether harkening from government, corporate, or cultural heritage groups, points to the importance of recognizing this consequence of digital technology's advancement. …

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