Archives studies

Course date

5 July - 16 July, 1999
15 February, 1999
Course Director(s): 

Margaret Crockett

Audata Ltd., London, United Kingdom
Course Faculty: 

Piers Cain

Records Management Trust, London, United Kingdom

Jean-Marc Comment

Swiss Federal Archives, Bern, Switzerland

Branislav Nikolaevic

Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Trudy Huskamp Peterson

Open Society Archives, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Thomas Ruller

New York State Archives, New York, United States of America

Jan Smith

Essex Record Office, United Kingdom

Computer-based archives management systems can assist archives in managing a specific function(s) or in integrating through automation the entire workflow of the archives.  Archival automation has come piecemeal to archives in Western Europe and North America, and now many archives are adopting fully integrated systems. In Central and Eastern Europe archives are deeply interested in transforming their processes from manual to automated systems. Few, however, have had the resources to invest heavily in technology, but everywhere one or two computers with one or two applications are in use.

This course is designed for midlevel archival managers who will be participating in the decisions on automation in their institutions. The course has two parts.

In the first week the course concentrates on planning for automation.  It stresses the analysis of archival  functions and workflow in a repository, and it reviews the choices that archivists must make, such as specifying the goals of automation, identifying the users that will be affected by the automated system, choosing between integrated and function-specific applications, and planning and managing obsolescence.  It will also touch on automating records management functions and their integration with automated archives systems. The week concludes with a workshop on writing functional requirements for an archival automation project.

The second week shifts to making specific decisions on systems.  After a review of the applications of microcomputer technology, digital image technology, networking and the internet, the class will consider the advantages and disadvantages of generic off-the-shelf systems,archives-specific systems, and custom-designed systems.  Two archives-specific systems one a general management systems, one a function-specific digital in aging system will be demonstrated and evaluated by the class.  The week will conclude with a discussion of the personnel management issues in introducing systems in an archives and a review of the security issues inherent in automated systems.

The Open Society Archives believes that this is precisely the right time to hold such a course.  We have not yet dedicated a SUN course to automation, and it is a logical successor to our previous courses. It is also the topic that we are most frequently asked to address.  The archives of the region are ripe for automation, and increasingly money is becoming available to start the process.  We believe that SUN can provide a major service to the archives of the region by helping them plan and analyze their goals for automation, thereby giving them the best chance of successful change.