Jul 2010 | 304pp

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Principles and practices

Laura A. Millar

Winner of the 2011 Society of American Archivists' Waldo Gifford Leland Award
Whether an institution has a collections orientation or whether it is primarily responsible for managing institutional archives in conjunction with an organizational records management programme, those responsible for its archives and records management need specialist advice and practical guidance in the successful establishment and operation of an archival facility built on sound principles.
This authoritative handbook, written by an archival professional with over 25 years’ experience, offers just that. Addressing the contextual, strategic and operational issues associated with archives, the text covers everything the archivist needs to know: establishing principles, policies and procedures; managing day-to-day operations; caring for different types of archival materials; enhancing outreach and public access; and ensuring the growth and sustainability of the institution and its services.
The key chapters are:
  • What are archives?
  • Archival institutions: creatures of history and culture
  • Archival service: a matter of trust
  • Protecting archives
  • Provenance, original order and respect des fonds
  • Appraising and acquiring archives
  • Arranging and describing archives
  • Making archives available
  • The challenge of digital archives.  
The final section of the book offers a glossary of terms and a wide range of specialist information including comprehensive lists of recommended further reading, national institutions, professional bodies and other sources of advice.
Readership: This book is essential reading for anyone involved in managing archives. Its straightforward and approachable language ensures that fundamental principles and practices are outlined clearly for novice archivists and non-specialists; experienced professionals will also find the work of immense value in validating or updating their understanding of archival operations. The issues addressed are relevant to archival practice internationally, particularly in English-speaking countries, and concepts in place in different parts of the world are examined in order to provide a global context.

Foreword - Geoffrey Yeo
  • About the book 
  • Additional resources 
  • Striving for diversity and balance  
1. What are archives?
  • From knowledge to record
  • Content, structure and context
  • From records to archives
  • The form of archives
  • Archives and artefacts
  • Why keep archives?  
2. Archival institutions: creatures of history and culture 
  • Archives, power and the people 
  • The concept of the fonds 
  • Types of archival institution   
3. Archival service: a matter of trust
  • The duties of the archivist 
  • The skills of the archivist 
  • Archival codes of ethics 
  • The impact of legislation
  • Developing a policy framework 
  • Matters of administration   
4. Protecting archives 
  • What is preservation? 
  • Understanding and responding to archival hazards 
  • Developing a preservation plan 
  • Emergency planning 
  • Storing media materials   
5. Provenance, original order and respect des fonds 
  • The principle of provenance 
  • The principle of original order 
  • The principle of respect des fonds 
  • The concept of the fonds 
  • Challenging traditional perspectives 
  • Assigning names   
6. Appraising and acquiring archives
  • Appraisal for acquisition 
  • Appraisal for selection 
  • Sampling, weeding and culling 
  • Other appraisal considerations 
  • Acquiring archives 
  • Accessioning archives 
  • Deaccessioning 
  • Monetary appraisal  
7. Arranging and describing archives 
  • Archival levels of arrangement 
  • The practicalities of arrangement 
  • Describing archives 
  • Presenting content 
  • Providing access to descriptive information 
  • Putting the description together 
  • Establishing priorities   
8. Making archives available 
  • Equal access 
  • The reference environment 
  • Documenting reference services 
  • Cost recovery and profit making 
  • Outreach 
  • Digitization of archives 
  • Measuring success   
9. The challenge of digital archives 
  • Clarifying language 
  • Electronic records issues 
  • Developing electronic records and archives policies 
  • The importance of standards 
  • The process of managing electronic archives 
  • The role of a digital depository 
  • Staying current   
To learn more 
  • Journal literature 
  • National and state institutions 
  • Professional associations 
  • Additional reading   
Glossary of terms 
Key archival terms

"...an excellent guide to archives management for all those who work in and with archives - it will also serve as an indispensable student textbook for many years to come."
- Business Archives

"Laura Millar's writing style is readable and engaging. She has a gift for vivid imagery and topical example, which help illuminate the concepts discussed...All in all, this book is comprehensive and thought provoking. Laura Millar has succeeded in her objective of straddling cultures and theories, and there is much here that will be useful in assisting archivists to develop practice appropriate to their own situation."
- Archifacts

"Amid cost cutting, as more and more information professionals are expected to develop record management skills, the book is a treasure to learn good principles and practices for archives-keeping. As for seasoned professionals, it still is a keeper because it provides a whole new perspective and makes them view records management in a new light."
- Information World Review

"...an excellent guide to principles and practices for archive management around the globe."
- Library Review

"Archives: Principles and practices is a different kind of archives manual. In this book, celebrated archival theorist and consultant Laura Millar invites archivists to remember their profession as one built on common sense. Using the analogy of cooking, Millar touts Archives: Principles and practices as less of a recipe book and more as a book of culinary practice that provides a foundation of knowledge about food: if you understand how yeast and gluten interact to make bread, you are better equipped to be successful in bread making than you would relying solely on a recipe. Similarly, if you have an understanding of the fundamental concepts of archival science, you will be more equipped to make decisions that fit a given situation."
- Partnership

Dr Laura A. Millar is an independent consultant in the fields of archival and information management, publishing and education. She has taught archives and information management, publishing, editing and writing in universities and colleges in Canada and internationally and has written and edited a large number of books and articles on these subjects.

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