Archives

Archives: In general, archives consist of records which have been selected for permanent or long-term preservation on the ground of their enduring cultural, historical or evidentiary value. Archival records are normally unpublished and almost always unique, unlike books or magazines for which many identical copies exist. This means that archives (the places) are quite distinct from libraries with regard to their functions and organization, although archival collections can often be found within library buildings.

a) Definition: The word “archive” is derived from the Greek “arkhē” meaning government or order (compare an-archy, mon-archy). The word originally developed from the Greek “arkheion” which refers to the home or dwelling of the Archon, in which important official state documents were filed and interpreted under the authority of the Archon. Since “archive”, as a noun or a verb, has acquired meanings related to computer science, Archivists tend to prefer the term “archives” (with an S) as the correct terminology to serve as both the singular and plural.

A person who works in archives is called an archivist. The study and practice of organizing, preserving, and providing access to information and materials in archives is called archival science.

b) Objectives

i) Safe storage and preservation of the document in a climate control facility;

ii) Classification and Cataloguing of the document;

iii) Retrieval and safe handling of the document.

c) Collections: It contains records (primary source documents) which have accumulated over the course of an individual or organization's lifetime. The collection refers to all historical records (not just documents and manuscripts but videos, disks, and other tangible forms as well) held and preserved by an institution. Archival materials are not published; these are always famous documents, or even necessarily old.

The archives of an organization (such as a corporation or government) tend to contain records, such as administrative files, business records, memos, official correspondences and meeting minutes. The archives of an individual may include letters, papers, photographs, computer files, scrapbooks, financial records or diaries created or collected by the individual – regardless of media or format.

d) Services: Professor and author Bruce Dearstyne identified the eight roles of the archivist-

- The role of an agent to the past and the future. This means that archivists must always bear in mind its historical significance and its importance to posterity.

- They must work in conjunction with related information fields. For example, many archivists work closely with librarians and records managers to determine the value of records and their place in the repository.

- They act as organizers. This requires the archivists to manage, coordinate, and allocate resources in a manner that allows an easy access and use by staff and patrons.

- Archivists should act as evaluators of program materials by continually assessing records.

- They should assert control and order. This includes systematic filing and storing of items.

- They ensure physical survival of records through security, storage, and disaster planning.

- Archivists foster access to valuable records and so they must also encourage patrons and researchers to make use of their collections. They can do this through various promotional campaigns (articles or exhibits).

- Archivists act as public relations coordinators for their repository. This means that they attempt to reach out to the community via conferences and presentations that demonstrate the importance and richness of their resources.

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