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Evaluarea in Finlanda - Studiu

Evaluarea in Finlanda - Studiu

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16
APPRAISAL 2000: A PROJECT OF THE FINNISH NATIONALARCHIVES AND ITS INTERNATIONAL CONTEXT
Jari Lybeck 
 Project manager, National Archives of Finland  Appraisal 2000
is a major project of the Finnish National Archives that aims at the definitionand codification of the principles and criteria of appraisal. The Finnish appraisal tradition has been quite pragmatic and the idea is to introduce a more theoretical and systematic approachto this field.My presentation is divided into four sections. First, I will make a short terminological excursi-on which is followed by a survey of some trends in recent international debate on appraisal,seen from a Finnish perspective. The third section is about the characteristics of the Finnishappraisal tradition and the fourth about the project
 Appraisal 2000
itself, its organization andcontent.
Terminology: appraisal, disposal and archival value
The ICA Dictionary of Archival Terminology
 
(1988) defines appraisal
 
as
a basic archival function of determining the eventual disposal of records based upon their archival value.
 
 Also referred to as evaluation, review, selection or selective retention.
1
Disposal for its part means, according
 
to the same dictionary
the actions taken with regard to non-current records
 
 following their appraisal and the expira-tion of their 
 
retention periods as provided for by legislation, regulation or administrative procedure. Frequently used as synonymous with destruction.
2
These definitions
 
also correspond to the Finnish reality. The concept of appraisal is covered by the term “arvonmääritys” and that of disposal by the term “seulonta”. However, nationaldifferences in archival concepts and terminology are present even here. In the Finnish contextit is not quite natural to speak about
archival value
because all records of a records creator,irrespective of the records position in the life-cycle or their status with regard to the appraisal procedure, are regarded as archives. The term that is usually employed in this connection is
research value
which is very nearly the same thing. Very nearly but not quite. Archival value,which justifies the indefinite or permanent retention of records, can relate, according to theICA Dictionary, not only to evidential and informational values, which are comparable to our research value but also to administrative, fiscal and legal values.
3
These values exist, of cour-se, in the Finnish context too, but there is no one concept, such as archival value, that wouldcombine these different values together. We speak about administrative value, fiscal value etc.on the one hand and about research value on the other hand. It is rare but not unique that someother value than research value is the primary justification for the indefinite or permanentretention of records.
 
17In Finland we do not always make a distiction between appraisal and disposal, as terms, whenwe discuss archival matters. For the sake of shortness the term “seulonta”, disposal, is oftenused to cover both the concepts of appraisal and disposal.As regards the ICA Dictionary, it is interesting that in a draft version for a new edition of the book the concept of appraisal has become more faceted. It is called not only a basic archivalfunction but a basic records management function as well. Besides administrative, legal, andfiscal use and evidential and informational value the draft definition mentions also the arran-gement of the records and their condition as well as their relationship to other records asrelevant factors influencing appraisal.
4
 With regard to the term disposal, the draft version for the new edition of the ICA Dictionaryis, I think, more balanced than the present official edition
.
The draft definition mentionsexplicitly the possibility of transferring the records to an archives; the other possibility isdestruction. In the present definition the emphasis is on the latter possibility.
International discussion: main points from a Finnish perspective
Internationally, there has been a lot of discussion and debate on the theoretical grounds of appraisal in recent years
,
especially in the Anglo-Saxon archival world.
The United States and Canada
Content versus evidence
A great deal of American discussion on appraisal circles, in one way or another, around thequestion of the relative importance of the content of records, on the one hand and their impor-tance as evidence, on the other hand.With respect to appraisal, the figure of Theodore Schellenberg has dominated the Americanand to a great extent also the international scene for decades. Also from the Finnish point of view Schellenberg’s writings have a special importance. His views on the primary and secon-dary value of records and the subdivision of the latter to evidential and informational valuehave been well established in Finnish archival circles since the 1960s.Since the beginning of the 1980s there has been a new upsurge of discussion on principles andstrategies of appraisal in the United States and Canada. The traditional emphasis on the con-tent of records has been challenged by theories that stress evidence and accountability as thefundamental values that must be safeguarded when appraising records; records content is asecondary consideration. Electronic records constitute an important background factor for thisdevelopment. Evidence and accountability have become increasingly difficult concepts in thecontext of electronic records, requiring attention and definition.A somewhat confusing factor in this shift of emphasis is the terminology that is used. Theconcept of evidence is especially problematic. It is sometimes used quite legalistically in away that makes the concepts of evidence and accountability virtually identical. Schellenberg’snotion on evidence and evidential value was broader, comprising an informational element as
 
18well.
5
Unfortunately there is also some confusion about Schellenberg’s concept of evidence.Angelika Menne-Haritz has argued that Schellenberg did not mean that only decisions about procedures and policy, strategic plans, guidelines, organisation charts and similar records haveevidential value. She writes, that evidence is something that must be read between the lines,and that is not necessarily to be found in the texts themselves. Evidence means patterns or  processes, aims and mandates, procedures and results, as they can be examined. Symbols andother annotations on a record or a folder or a slip of paper attached to a record indicating acertain working order, for example, can constitute an important part of evidence.
6
Interpretedthis way, Schellenberg comes surprisingly close to the modern evidentialists. However, thatdoes not change the fact that Schellenberg also put a great emphasis on informational value,that is, the content of the records which is something the evidentialists do not agree with.Luciana Duranti (Canada) and David Bearman (USA) are the leading evidentialists on theinternational scene. Luciana Duranti rejects the content approach in appraisal altogether. Allnotions of documenting society are to her betrayal of the archivists mission. According toDuranti, “the ultimate purpose of archival endeavors is to hand down to the next generationsreliable, trustworthy, and complete testimony of societal actions so that they can constitutesources of, and foundations for, future decision making.”
7
 David Bearman’s work on archival theory is focused on electronic records. In this connection,the questions of authenticity and reliability are of vital importance. Like Duranti Bearmanrejects the content approach and stresses the importance of the context of records creation. Interms of appraisal this means that the traditional focus on the records themselves, the concre-te, must be shifted to the process and context of their creation, the conceptual. To Bearmanrecords are not carriers of content but evidence of transactions. The concept of evidence is toBearman closely related to that of accountability.
8
 In Luciana Duranti’s and David Bearman’s thinking one can see the rebirth of the ideas of SiHilary Jenkinson, the leading British archival theorist. Jenkinson firmly rejected the contentoriented research approach to managing archives and emphasised the archivist’s duty to de-fend the integrity and evidential quality of the archives. Jenkinson’s core concepts of impar-tiality, authenticity, naturalness and interrelationship which he maintained to be the essentialqualities of all archives have found great resonance in Luciana Duranti’s and other eviden-tialists’ thinking. As regards appraisal specifically, Jenkinson did not view it as an archivalissue at all. The archivist takes into custody those records that the records creator decides togive him, that is all.
9
 The evidentialist approach is by no means the only approach in American appraisal theorytoday. The so called documentation strategy whose main developer is Helen Samuels rep-resents the other end of the continuum. Documentation strategy, which appeared on the sceneof appraisal theory during the latter half of the 1980s, tries to provide as comprehensive andaccurate an image of society as possible. In order to achieve this archivists and other relevant players in the field, records creators, administrators, users etc. must define the main themes,issues or geographical areas that are to be documented and then collect materials that cover these predefined themes, issues or areas. The approach is multi-institutional. Besides archivesit should involve libraries, research institutes, documentation centres etc. A radical departurefrom the traditional tasks of an archivist is Samuels’ idea that in case of missing documentati-on archivists should adopt an active role; they should produce documentation themselves or atleast advise relevant parties to do so. Documentation strategy does not reject, in its revised

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