• Ditte Bieber Jensen
4. semester, Historie, Kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)
This thesis examines the role of appraisal in a Danish municipal context. The aim of the thesis is to identify how appraisal is thought upon by selected municipal archivists and if the international and Danish theoretical views upon appraisal also applies to practice.
To understand appraisal in a theoretical context, the thesis examines the different international viewpoints on appraisal in a historiographical discussion and how, the concept of appraisal in archival theory has developed over time. The thesis finds that appraisal in a theoretical context has developed as the role of archives in society has changed and with the digitalization of the public administration. International appraisal theory has changed its focus from concentration primarily on the records of the public administration with theorists such as Jenkinson and Schellenberg, to, as Booms, Cook and Samuels advocates, taking the entire society into account and finally, to include the challenges of digitalization and the massive information-flows with the theories of Bearman, Duranti and Upward. The thesis finds that the Danish appraisal-theory is primarily rooted in practical concerns and little to no new theory on the subject has been developed in a Danish context. The appraisal-discussion in Denmark mostly centers around the national conservation strategy and as to which both Hansen and Paasch address their concerns about the Danish National Archives lack of theoretical foundation in their legislation and viewpoints on appraisal.
To examine the role of appraisal and approach to this in the municipal context, this thesis uses qualitative interviews as methodology to collect thoughts on the subject and to put practice into words. Archivists from different municipal archives has been selected, depending on their different roles and assignments in the archival structure. Therefore it must be taken into account, the fact that approach to appraisal differs as a result of their different roles and experiences.
The archive and the archivist’s social and societal role becomes clear in their through their approach towards appraisal. In the international appraisal-theory, the archivist’s role is shaped according to who and what purpose, the archivist is believed to be serving. Some focus on the administrative role, while others focus on archives as a legal and diverse representation of the entire society. Some theorists see the archivist as a passive custodian, while others see the archivist as a active records manager. The thesis also finds that this applies to the interviews, where the archivist’s role is shaped by their actions and choices.
The thesis finds that the context and structure, within which the archivist work, is crucial to how the appraisal is applied in practice and how records are valued. Archives and archivists are actors in a larger entity, where the National Archives, the municipal records creators, records managers, interest organizations, users etc. all play a role in the appraisal-considerations.
Legislation on appraisal also plays a part in the archival appraisal because it sets the framework in which, appraisal-decisions are made. In Denmark, the National Archives formulate the legislation on appraisal in the municipal context and therefore the decisions made by the National Archives also have a huge impact on the municipal archivist’s appraisal. The thesis finds that both the Danish National Archives and the municipal archives can benefit from a close corporation and exchange of knowledge in shaping the legislations on appraisal.
The thesis finds that archival appraisal, as any other part of the archival work, is grounded in resources and economics. With limited resources, prioritization is necessary and that means that the archivist will have to choose between “nice to have” and “need to have”. Through the interviews it is apparent, that economics and resources play a part in any appraisal-decision.
The digitalization of the public administration has also affected the archivist’s appraisal. As recognized in both theory and practice, the thesis finds that appraisal must take place in much earlier stages of the records’ “life” than before – even before the record itself has been created. The digitalization and preserving of digital records demand constantly new criteria to appraisal and in relation to this, there are many challenges to be faced.
Lastly, the thesis finds that the relationship between theory and practice is in many ways closely connected. Even though the archivists in question may not know it, their appraisal-considerations are not far from those presented in the appraisal-theories. The thesis finds, that the interviewed archivists all share a similar pragmatic approach to appraisal, as that of the National Archives, with some degree of theoretical concerns. There are also some practical concerns, that the theory barely address, including limitations in economic matters and resources. Therefore, it can be argued, that both theory and practice could benefit from each other on the matter of appraisal.
Udgivelsesdato3 jun. 2019
Antal sider78
Ekstern samarbejdspartnerAalborg Stadsarkiv
Arkivar Mie Jönsson mie.joensson@aalborg.dk
Aalborg Stadsarkiv
Digitalarkivar Simon Hansen simon.hansen@aalborg.dk
Randers Stadsarkiv
Arkivar Tina Jensen Randers.stadsarkiv@randers.dk
ID: 304943747