3 Replies to “Humbling des Fonds”

  1. I really like how you said that archivists of the future may not like the new practices we implement today, and how that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I think that makes complete sense. I think its fair for the Dutch Manual to not have the foresight to predict the evolution of information management, but there is no excuse for us to be so naive. Naive to think that archival practices currently shouldn’t change and naive to think that we know enough about future technologies to establish future proof archival practices.

    1. Thanks for your comment!

      I think this topic goes along very well with the shifting ideas of what it means to preserve something. Back in the day when the Dutch Manual was published and the archival profession was just getting off the ground, people thought they were preserving something forever. There were no ideas of preserving records that have “continuing value,” or deaccessioning records that were no longer deemed valuable. But that was because they had no reason to think that records would lose value. They implemented a practice that fit at the time, and we should do the same.

      We have so many new factors to consider with born-digital records. Databases are the new narrative art form and ten different copies of a digital object all hold value. These are the issues we’re dealing with today, and we have to tailor our practices to fit our own expectations, not the expectations of the future. Digital preservation has enough guesswork going on; we don’t need to guess any more than we have to.

  2. Technically, according to the original Dutch and North American traditions, you aren’t even an “archive” unless you collect the records generated during the normal operation of a bureaucratic organization. To the founders of the field many of the institutions we call archives today would fall under the category of “special collections library” or something similar.

    Obviously, our understanding of what is considered an archive has evolved tremendously since the Dutch Manual was written, and continues to evolve. Given that example of mental flexibility it puzzles me that some archivists seem to want to freeze in place other 200-year old concepts such as provenance. Luckily, there are enough archivists like Drake (and us!) who are willing to adapt the spirit of these archival concepts without being shackled to dusty colonialist understandings of their application.

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