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Evaluarea si Selectionarea, o noua abordare

Evaluarea si Selectionarea, o noua abordare

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Comma 2002.1-2
 
Proceedings of the XXXVth International Conferenceof the Round Table on ArchivesReykjavik, Iceland, 10-13 October 2001Actes de la XXXVe Conférence internationalede la Table ronde des ArchivesReykjavik, Islande, 10-13 octobre 2001
 
Comma, 2002 - 1/2 –
Duncan Simpson and Susan Graham 51 
Appraisal and Selection of Records:A New Approach
 
This paper will describe the approach of the Public Record Office, the UK nationalarchive, to determining which government records merit permanent preservation. Thisapproach has changed radically over the past few years, moving from a non-interven-tionist approach and beginning to take a much more active part in the selection process.The paper begins by describing the public records system of the UK government andits ‘traditional’ approach to appraisal. It analyses what we now see as the weaknesses inthat approach, and describes our new approach and its implementation.
The UK public records system
The Public Record Office (PRO) operates within a framework established by the PublicRecords Act 1958. Our remit covers the public records of the UK government, Englandand, for the time being, Wales. There are separate statutory provisions for officialrecords in Scotland and Northern Ireland, each of which has its own record office.Currently there is not a Welsh Record Office, but the Government of Wales Act 1998makes possible its future establishment by the National Assembly for Wales.The Public Records Act defines a public record as “records conveying informationby any means whatsoever”,
1
and covers the records of central government, the law courtsand a number of other government bodies. It does not apply to the records of local orregional government.The Public Records Act 1958 sets out the responsibilities of the PRO, governmentdepartments and places of deposit in relation to public records. Although, according tothe Act, departments are responsible for the safe-keeping and selection of their ownrecords, they are required to do this under the guidance, supervision and co-ordination of the PRO. In carrying out this responsibility, the PRO supervises over 250 public recordbodies, which together hold in excess of 1400 linear kilometres of records at a combinedannual storage cost of over £35 million.
2
We take into the archives fewer than 5% of the records created by government. Thisamounts now to about 2km per year and we have already in store 168 km. An additional42 km of public records are held in 240 other archives throughout the country, known as‘places of deposit’. We inspect and monitor these local archives, though we do not givethem any funding, or have any management control over them.The PRO’s new approach to appraisal rests on a re-structuring of the PRO’s RecordsManagement Department, which we carried out in 1998. We re-defined the department’sstrategic objectives and all the roles and functions of the staff within it. This enabled usto begin to deal with the introduction of electronic records management systems intogovernment, and the implications this brings for the processes of appraisal, selectionand, eventually, preservation or disposal.
1
Public Records Act 1958, s 10(1)
2
 
 Records Storage Management 
, Cabinet Office / PRO. February 1997
 
Comma, 2002 - 1/2 –
Duncan Simpson and Susan Graham 52
 Changing approach to appraisal
In the UK, the approach to the selection of records for permanent preservation in thearchives has evolved throughout the twentieth century.Recent practice – for the last 40 years or so – has been dominated by the views of SirHilary Jenkinson, who was Deputy Keeper of the Public Records from 1947 to 1954 andmore recently by those of Theodore Schellenberg.In The Principles of Archive Administration
3
Sir Hilary Jenkinson stressed theimportance of preserving the evidential and impartial nature of archives. In Jenkinson’sview, administrators should carry out the selection of records for permanent preservationconsidering administrative need alone. The intervention of archivists in this processwould taint the evidential value of the record by applying an external set of values to therecords. In Jenkinson’s view, research values should be excluded from selectiondecisions, both to avoid destroying the evidential value of the records and also to protectthem from current trends and fads which might skew the historical record.In the middle of the twentieth century, Theodore Schellenberg of the US NationalArchives and Records Administration wrote that archives should be selected, not onlyfor their value as evidence, but also for their informational content
4
. He set out ataxonomy of primary and secondary records values. Primary values were the value of therecords to the organization itself while secondary values were the research values of therecords, which could be further subdivided into informational or evidential values.Schellenberg separated the value of the records to the creating organization and theirvalue for research purposes. While administrators were best placed to assess primaryvalues, he argued that archivists should assess the secondary values.The views of Schellenberg and Jenkinson are both represented in the findings of the1954 Grigg Committee, whose report underpins the Public Records Act of 1958
5
.TheGrigg system has provided the basis of the procedures for the selection of records forpermanent preservation in the UK national archive from the end of the 1950s.Based on the records life cycle, the system consists of a two-stage review processrelying on an individual examination of records. First review, conducted some 5-7 yearsafter creation, considers administrative need. Records which survive this review areexamined 25 years after creation to establish if they have sufficient value to meritpermanent preservation.Traditional approaches such as this have recently come under question, not only inthe UK but throughout the world. A number of reasons underlie this:The file-by-file appraisal process works from the bottom up, looking closely and ingreat detail at records. It is difficult to operate this system alongside any real strategicoverview of the appraisal activity. It is difficult to set selection priorities, and especiallydifficult to do so across or between different organisations or departments.A system based on an individual examination of records is also increasinglyunsuitable for dealing with the large volume of records created since the 1970s asphotocopiers, word processors and computers became part of everyday office life. In onegovernment department, the volume of records due for review doubled over the period1970-1974.Over the past few years, the universal move to creating electronic records has givenhuge impetus to the need to review our approach to the appraisal and selection of records. The UK government has set the target that by 2004 all new public records mustbe created and managed electronically. Electronic records cannot be kept for twenty-fiveyears before considering whether or not they should be selected for permanent
3
Sir Hilary Jenkinson (1922)
 A Manual of Archive Administration
, 2
nd
ed pub 1965
4
T R Schellenberg (1956)
 Modern Archives: Principles and Techniques
 
5
1954,
 Report of the Committee fn Departmental Records
(Grigg Committee) Cmd 9163 HMSO

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