The first meeting of Cardigan Continuum London will be held on Wednesday 25th February at 5.30pm in the Arts and Humanities Staff Common Room, Foster Court, UCL [directions]. In a spirit of renewal in keeping with the arrival of the New Year (and copying Cardigan Continuum South) we will be reading ‘Reinventing Archival Methods in the Hague‘ by Cassie Findlay. This paper comes from a recent initiative of the Recordkeeping Roundtable, kindred spirits on the other side of the world.
The meeting will also discuss, inspired by all this talk of reinvention, the future of Cardigan Continuum. We have been going now for over three years, plenty of time to get into a rut, so all thoughts are welcome as to how (or if) we want to do things differently.
First of all many apologies for the delay in arranging another meeting, but I have been quite busy undertaking a research project for the day job. I will try to do better after Christmas, but was hoping that I might be able to hijack a quick meeting before Christmas to discuss something I have written as part of my research. The date I have in mind is 18th December at 6pm and we will meet in the Arts and Humanities Staff Common Room in Foster Court, UCL. The piece in question can be downloaded from here, and it is essentially a summary of recommendations made by people from outside archives and records management in regard to personal archives and recordkeeping. I am trying to work out what (if anything) we (as archivists and records managers) can learn from it and what we think we can usefully feedback to those working in these other fields. As I will be using the results of our discussion for my research, I am afraid that everyone who attends will need to complete a consent form (also downloadable) but apart from that everything will be exactly the same as a normal meeting – something to read, something to discuss and with it being nearly Christmas, seasonal nibbles to eat and something to drink. I hope to see some of you there and, even if you can’t make it, I hope you find the summary interesting as a different perspective on things.
The newly formed Cardigan Continuum South held its first meeting on the 18th September in Winchester. Thanks to Kate and Sarah for organising and to Kate for this report.
Our discussion article “Reinventing Archival Methods in the Hague” (http://rkroundtable.org/2014/02/05/reinventing-archival-methods-in-the-hague/) by Cassie Findlay was chosen because, written from a continuum theory perspective, it had talking points about both records and archives.
The issues raised by the article were universally recognised, and we agreed that it was difficult to choose the most effective way to make a difference with limited resources. For example, it was acknowledged that two values associated with the profession are our obsession with detail and having a big picture view of how organisations function. As most organisations now don’t have the luxury of carrying out detailed cataloguing, the idea of a taking a proportionate, risk-based approach to activities was thought to be an interesting challenge to the status quo.
In relation to the archives world we discussed how ready internet access to digitised records has contributed to falling visitor numbers. Interestingly, one participant noted that less people hasn’t meant less retrievals, as users are now more savvy about what they want by the time they visit. It was accepted that users generally expect instant access, however, the group didn’t agree that new users were always interested in adding their own stories to archives. Instead it was suggested that only select groups of users that form part of a shared-interest community are likely to want to reform archival description, e.g. the digital humanists or Ancestry users.
From the perspective of records management services, there were many thought-provoking statements in Findlay’s article. We agreed that disposal is difficult and time-consuming in the electronic world, that it is difficult to apply retention schedules across all systems that hold information, and that EDRMS may produce a skewed view of records. The ‘conscious’ recordkeeping of saving something into an EDRMS was compared to being picky about what to post on Facebook, only the best bits will make the cut.
The link between archives and records management was raised in the value of records managers who advise on records creation and how this can ease eventual appraisal. Given the volume of electronic information being created, changing or adapting our paper practices so that they are suitable for huge volumes of electronic information was thought to be the only way forward. For example easing disposal by applying retention by function rather than document type or by aggregating retention periods.
In line with Findlay’s approach of “offering solutions, not problems”, advocacy was discussed, with one proposal being to find out stakeholders’ problems and describe how archives and/or records management will solve them. Overall everyone positively agreed with most points and seemed heartened by the many calls to action. However, the group disagreed with the idea that governments will soon stop funding purpose-built repositories. Thinking of the many new buildings that have gone up recently, we were confident and hopeful that this wouldn’t be the case!
It was a successful meeting with attendees travelling from Dorchester and Southampton, and we hope to repeat it with another meeting in the New Year.
We are excited to announce that a new Cardigan Continuum group is being formed in the South of England!
The first ever meeting will be held in Winchester on Thursday 18th September from about 7:30pm. We will announce a venue when we have an idea of numbers, but it will be somewhere within walking distance of the railway station. We hope to hold other meetings elsewhere in the region in future.
The text under discussion will be ‘Reinventing Archival Methods’ by Cassie Findlay, which is available online: http://rkroundtable.org/2014/02/05/reinventing-archival-methods-in-the-hague/. This looks at some strategies for coping with managing digital information and covers both the archives and RM perspectives, so hopefully there will be something for everyone to think about!
If you are interested in attending, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know and we will send you more details nearer the time. Please also get in touch if you can’t make this date but would be interested in attending future meetings.
First of all many apologies for the prolonged silence. It has been a busy few months. Finally though, details of the next meeting.
This will be held in Newcastle to coincide with the Archives and Records Association Conference. The text under consideration will be Terry Cook’s ‘We Are What We Keep; We Keep What We Are’: Archival Appraisal Past, Present and Future. This article is based on a paper Terry presented at the ARA Conference in 2010 and we read it in his memory.
Thanks are due to everyone who has helped with sending details of possible venues in Newcastle. We will be meeting at The Central Bar on Wednesday 27 August at around 8.30/8.45pm. We don’t have a room booked so will be meeting in the main bar and crossing our fingers it is not too busy.
For those of you who have not attended a meeting before, please note that the wearing of cardigans is optional.
Yesterday, it was my great privilege to announce the winners of the Hilarys at the UKAD Forum 2014, and now I get to do so again here on the blog (drum roll please)…
The winner of the award for Most Thought Provoking Encounter goes to The National Archives’ Files on Film competition, which gained 39 out of a possible 69 votes cast.
The winner of the award of Most Promising New(s)comer goes to The Last Days of Aaron Swartz, posted by Myron Groover on his blog Bibliocracy on 13th January 2013, which gained 87 out of a possible 191 votes cast.
Congratulations to both of the worthy winners, but ultimately the Hilarys has never really been about a competition to win an award. Rather it has always been meant as both a reminder and a challenge to the archives and records management field.
A reminder in that it has sought to get us to look up and outwards, to actively seek new ways of thinking and to try to see through the eyes of others.
A challenge in that it has sought to encourage us to become better at inserting ourselves and the importance of recordkeeping into the story. Not everyone will agree that what Aaron Swartz did was right, but no one would deny that he stood up for what he believed in. His story was brought to the Hilarys by a blog written by Myron Groover and I will end with a quote from that post;
“Let us be less willing to shy from the challenging aspects of our work at the level of policy and advocacy – our voices are desperately needed. We no longer have the luxury of silence and whispering position statements is no longer enough”
Please note voting is now closed.
Following last night’s meeting I am very pleased to be able to announce the shortlist for the Hilarys 2013. The self selected Awards Committee first spent a bit of time debating the criteria for the various awards and also the seeming lack of nominations for the category of most promising newcomer. As a result they ended up slightly changing this category and adding new wording to try to explain a little better what was being looked for in that and the most thought-provoking encounter category. Next the nominations were shortlisted – see below – and an extra nomination was added because the committee saw it as a glaring omission given the re-jigging of the newcomer category.
We would like to send out both congratulations and commiserations to all those nominations that did not make the shortlist. It was very hard to choose between so many excellent possibilities. The final shortlist (in no particular order) is however as follows.
Most thought-provoking encounter – the outside perspective that best conveys to the profession an insight into, or illustration of, the multiplicity of meanings of archives and records
- The National Archives’ Files on Film competition
- Empires of Attention: A Brief History of Attention
- Arlette Farge’s ‘The Allure of the Archives’ published by Yale University Press
Most promising new(s)comer – the news story or event that offered the greatest potential for communicating the issues involved in, and the importance of, recordkeeping to wider society
- Coverage of the NSA files including The Guardian’s NSA interactive visualisation
- The Last Days of Aaron Swartz, posted by Myron Groover on his blog Bibliocracy on 13th January 2013
- The Hillsborough Independent Panel report
As you can see you can vote for your favourite. Everyone is eligible to vote, but please only vote once in each category. The formal presentation of the winners will take place at the UKAD Forum on 27 March 2014 so voting will close the evening before. Plenty of time then to have a think and place your vote.