Mander Jones commentary from 2015

The announcement that registrations are now open for the Australian Society of Archivists conference has just gone up. It’s time to start knuckling down to the judging of this year’s Mander Jones entries, so that the prizes can be awarded in October. It’s a long process – nominations come from the previous year, so this year I am looking at works from 2015, but the ones I will be summarising here were awarded at the 2015 conference and were completed or published in 2014. There were, therefore, a large number of commemorative publications in honour of the Anzac centenary. So many, in fact, that I suggested we start a separate category. This year, not so many…

The following remarks are mine, and mine alone (like Anne Elk), and do not represent the ASA in any way, or my fellow judges. The nominations and remarks are not comprehensive and do not necessarily reflect the winners, just the ones that I found of interest.

Digital information and records management capabilities (the capability matrix)

Exposure draft published November 2013, Revised version published November 2014

Available from http://www.naa.gov.au/records-management/development/qualifications/index.aspx

An interesting approach to the need to ensure that staff have the necessary skills and knowledge to undertake work in the current recordkeeping environment. It would have been good to see the last section on RM and IM staff being tied to the RIMPA and ASA competencies, or the Australian Qualifications Framework, which would have made the work more portable in terms of the profession.

Reinventing archival methods: Continuing the conversation

Compilation of 2 featured articles and over 20 short essays

The original workshop from which the inspiration for these papers was taken was an invigorating session, designed to get archivists to consider current and future practice. The papers represented here provide evidence of current practice and demonstrate a willingness to engage with the future and to think laterally. The editors are to be congratulated on pulling together a diverse range of writers, including some from outside the archival circle. Many authors and presenters are familiar to the RecordKeeping (RK) Roundtable, and it would be interesting to gain some additional and possibly dissenting voices.

Available online through the RK Roundtable but also as a special edition of Archives and Manuscripts, this work explores open access in a number of different ways.

Cassie Findlay ‘Reinventing Archival Methods’ Paper presented to the seminar to mark the retirement of Hans Hofman from the National Archives of the Netherlands.

27 January 2014,

Available at http://rkroundtable.org/2014/02/05/reinventing-archival-methods-in-the-hague/

And

http://www.nationaalarchief.nl/sites/default/files/docs/nieuws/cassie_findlay_reinventing_archival_methods_the_hague_27jan_2014a.pdf

A call to arms, or at least to move to the side of Pharaoh, for the archives and RM profession.

Beyond 1914. The University of Sydney and The Great War.

http://beyond1914.sydney.edu.au/

It is beautifully designed with clear and easy links to follow. The video from the archives provides a good background to the information in the display. Disappointingly, images are labelled 0001.jpg rather than with an ID that would encourage further investigation into the archives, or allow for deeper research. There are links with other institutions and collections which could be explored further.

Biographies of the men from the Banyo District who served in the Great War (including a short history of the Banyo Memorial School of Arts and Memorial Hall).2014 – Printed by Digital Synergy, Hendra Qld

This is a nice take on the local memorial, with links to archival information at QSA and NAA.

The presentation is clean and neat and appropriate for distribution among the Banyo community.

A Row of Goodly Pearls, One Hundred and Twenty Five Years of Loreto in Melbourne

The book is a lavishly illustrated, and well written history of Loreto Mandeville, with a short history of the Loreto order. Good use of archives to illustrate the book, if not the text, and one which is sure to please its intended audience.

Walata Tyamateetj: A guide to government records about Aboriginal People in Victoria

Beautifully presented volume, which could easily have been developed into a glossy hardcover coffee table book. Great introduction by Justine and David, while Richard Broome’s historical overview is comprehensive and well written. The opportunity to present this as an interactive finding aid and exhibition has been missed, with the online version as a pdf or e publication only. The historical overview is interesting, but the work lacks punch as a finding aid.

In Good Faith: Waverley College and the Great War 1914-1918 ISBN 9780992463168 published May 2014

Lovely section about the importance of access to archives, highlighting the challenges and benefits, pp10 – 11.

Beautifully presented and illustrated, the book brings together the archives of Waverley College, through the Admission Register and other details, and the National Archives WW1 Service records. An impressive effort to explore a contemporary issue in a way that engages with the audience and presents both history and archives in a new light.

Gilliland, A., & McKemmish, S. (2014). The Role of Participatory Archives in Furthering Human Rights, Reconciliation and Recovery. In Archivio di Stato (Trieste), Mednarodni Institute Arhivskih Znanosti (Maribor), Atlanti: review for modern archival theory and practice. Trieste: Archivio di Stato.

A powerful call for archives and those described in them, and users of the archive to work together in participatory spaces to explore ideas of agency, authority, provenance, control and access. Well written and researched.

Opening Government: Open Data and Access to Information’, in ‘Integrity in Government through Records Management’

Published by: Ashgate Publishing

Following the news that the independent report had recommended that the SRSA archives and records components be separated, James Lowry’s review of the open data and Freedom of Information movements reminds us why this is not such a good idea. Beyond the ‘good records mean better archives’ mantra, Lowry reviews Ann Thurston’s involvement with open government and open data, through recordkeeping. The example of Norway, provided by way of a case study?, which uses a ‘whole of life cycle’ approach (not continuum?) emphasises the role of archives and records in ensuring governments are open, transparent and accountable. The need for records and archives to be authentic and integral is emphasised. The role of good record keeping both now and for the future of open government is seen as fundamental.

Cathy Humphreys, Gavan McCarthy, Melissa Dowling, Margaret Kertesz, and Rachel Tropea. 2014. “Improving the Archiving of Records in the Out-of-Home Care Sector.” Australian Social Work 67 (4): 509–24. doi:10.1080/0312407X.2013.856453.

Following on from the call for Participatory archives by Sue McKemmish, et al, we have this surprisingly practical response, from the Who Am I? Project. The subject and the discussion is densely written, yet the work and the benefits come through clearly. I would have thought the records continuum to be a concept too far for this non-archival audience, but I am reassured by the findings that the continuum was well understood and proved a useful tool in the project.

And finally, two great student projects! I expect to see and hear more from these two.

Viviane Hessami

To ‘reverse engineer’ and critique a Retention and Disposal Schedule for the Trust and Technology Project

Make this strike three for participatory archives. A detailed and nuanced approach to appraisal and access.

Chris Stueven

FIT5104 Assignment 4: Research Essay

Recordkeeping Issues Arising from the Public Hearings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

This is an important study that deserves to be published. It is well researched and well written, and points to a number of contemporary recordkeeping challenges.

 

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inthemailbox

Archivist, historian, avid reader

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