INFO 6800 (Winter 2013) Week Four Seminar Handout


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Handout for week four of INFO 6800 (Winter 2013).

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INFO 6800 (Winter 2013) Week Four Seminar Handout

  1. 1. INFO 6800 Archives – January 28, 2013 Week Four – Arrangement and DescriptionObjectives 1. Examine current and emerging practices for archival processing 2. Become familiar with information systems used to create multi-level archival descriptions 3. Understand the similarities and differences between organizational archives and personal archives 4. Understand the current debates on provenance and their impact on archival description and other core functionsActivities: Seminar presentationsRequired ReadingsDeodato, Joseph. “Becoming Responsible Mediators: The Application of PostmodernPerspectives to Archival Arrangement and Description.” Progressive Librarian 27(Summer 2006): 52-63., Geoffrey. “The Conceptual Fonds and the Physical Collection.” Archivaria 73(Spring 2012): 43-80., Joel. “Ethnicity as Provenance: In Search of Values and Principles forDocumenting the Immigrant Experience,” Archival Issues 29.1 (2005): 65–76.Optional ReadingsKrawczyk, Bob. “Cross Reference Heaven: The Abandonment of the Fonds as thePrimary Level of Arrangement for Ontario Government Records.” Archivaria 48(1999):131-153., Dennis, and Mark A. Greene. “More Product, Less Process: RevampingTraditional Archival Processing.” American Archivist 68.2 (2005): 208-263. INFO 6800 Archives (Winter 2013) – Week Four Seminar | 1
  2. 2. Prepare for Discussion 1. What are some of the ways Deodato suggests postmodern ideas can be applied to arrangement and description? 2. What are some of the implications (e.g., practical, financial, administrative, research, etc.) of the encroachment of postmodernism into archival theory and practice? 3. Early archival theorists saw the fonds as a physical construct, with visible and definable boundaries. Contemporary theorists frequently refer to the fonds as an “intellectual” entity, more of a “concept” than a physical reality. What prompted this shift and what are the implications for archival practice? 4. Archival collections are typically seen as “artificial” constructions of records, while fonds are viewed as “organic” accumulations of records. What is implied by this distinction? Are these assumptions valid in today’s recordkeeping environments? 5. The records of many organizations, families, and individuals are spread across multiple archives, many of which describe their holdings as a fonds even though it cannot possibly be considered the “single entity” which constitutes the entire records of the creator. What does this say about traditional archival theory? What are the possible effects of this treatment on archives users? 6. Helen Creighton was a folk song collector who made audio recordings of countless individuals across the Maritimes. Her records are stored in at least six different archives in two different countries; there are at least three “fonds” and one “collection.” In all cases, the records document the cultural expressions of countless individuals that have not been described as “creators.” What challenges do fonds like this pose for archivists? For researchers? How can archivists arrange these materials according to the principle of respect des fonds while also acknowledging the provenance of the tradition bearers and the tradition? 7. Joel Wurl has argued that archivists should perceive ethnicity as a form of provenance. How does he suggest archivists make this shift? What are the implications for the various core functions? INFO 6800 Archives (Winter 2013) – Week Four Seminar | 2
  3. 3. 8. What are some of the financial and administrative considerations an archivist must make when planning arrangement and description activities? How can archivists increase their productivity when processing records?More Product, Less Process image from the Derangement and Description blog (2009): INFO 6800 Archives (Winter 2013) – Week Four Seminar | 3