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Hasan Karayam Dr.

Albert Whittenberg April 27, 2012

Reflective Essay
This essay presented my reflection over the course Essentials of Archival Management based on the readings, discussions, field trips and field experience. This course helped me to understand the history and philosophy of archives at the beginning of the semester, to gain some experience of these theoretical issues and how they work practically in archives during the field work portion of the course, and finally to examine the challenges that electronic records, in particular, pose to the future of the archival profession as well as archives as profession. First of all and without exaggeration, all of the readings had an impact on me in different ways. They helped me understand the philosophy and mission of archives and their purpose, and I was able to apply them during my field experience at the Rutherford County Archive. In addition, they helped make me more confident in dealing with archival issues. This was the first time that I had the opportunity to apply course reading in this field. Because the archive is very close to history, I had thought archives basic purpose was to keep historical documents for history. But, since the first class I came to recognize the profession of those who work inside the archives. I have absorbed the differences between archivists and curators, which helped me to understand the relationship between archives and other careers that are close to the field, such as librarians and history. I recognized one source of my confusion in , which pointed out that it was unfortunate that the term archives can mean an actual building,

an agency, or a collection of historical documents.1 When you recognize the nature of records will be adapted to deal with records. The second weekwhich covered the nature of records-- is an important one for my reflection in the class. The readings for this week answered many of questions raised in the first week and were the best possible introduction for archival work. Those readings addressed why we save information, how to choose the information that deserves to be saved, what kinds of records exist in archives, the characteristics of records, the sources of records, and the reasons for saving information. Together, these tell us the basic purpose of archives, which serves as the best background determining the importance of the field. It was the perfect beginning for the class. The third week was an introduction to archival functions that started with selection and appraisal. The readings for this week took us through the evolution of archival theories, beginning with T. R. Schellenberg, archivist at National Archives and ranging to the present day. I think I have learned how to know the value of records according to the experience and perspective that they provide. Secondly, the readings from this week led me to think that most archivists have been restricted in their thoughts about appraisal by early archival theories, which has slowed development of appraisal theories. This will be an increasing challenge in the future, because the field must continue to develop in order to develop the best methods to deal with and preserve modern records. The readings about accession, arrangement, and description led me to understand these important stages in archival work as interrelated activities that depend on each other. In particular, the readings helped me recognize the acquisition and accession processes in term of
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Barbara J. Howe and Emory L. Kemp (editors), Public History: an Introduction (Report Krieger Publishing Company: Malabar, FL) 37.

the respective rights of archives and creators. These functions include many important legal aspects, but I think archivists have significant gaps in their legal knowledge that require more efforts from the archivist. In terms of arrangement, in addition to learning how to arrange records and the challenges of arranging records at different repositories across the country, I learned a lot about the problem of unprocessed records in the article More Product Less Process. This made me more eager to explore this problem during my field trips and field practice at the Rutherford County Archives. I remember asking all repositories that I had visited, including the Albert Gore Research Center and the Rutherford County Archives, about this problem. Like the argument of the article, I found it to be one of the current problems that needs effective efforts to resolve. Consequently, these readings helped me experience one of the problems that challenges the field. The description function plays a crucial role as a bridge between researchers and records, but it includes challenges in terms of the administrative and intellectual control over archival holdings exercised through finding aids. This step is a flexible and on-going function that prepares the records for users in different ways depending on whether the user is on-site or remote. My reflection on these readings about description helped me realize the important relationship between users and archivists. It seems that in dealing with the problems that face users and records, it is possible to be successful and reach satisfactory outcomes for both sides. I think the most important thing in the relationship between them is to balance and harmonize their needs, regardless of many challenges inside the archive. The topic that impacted me the most during the semester was preservation of records. Preservation faces many challenges, such as protection, storage, and disaster planning. These problems helped me to understand the nature of materials, which is needed to ensure preservation in repositories, and now I can determine those problems easily and professionally. I

think the multitude of preservation problems is associated with identification of the term of preservation preservation encompasses a wide variety of interrelated activities designed to prolong the usable life of archives and manuscripts. It is a broad term that covers protection, stabilization, and treatment of documents.2 Therefore, the preservationists may need to narrow their activities or divide their activities into new approaches or terms that help archivists better understand preservation activities and make them more practical for the field. In this way, preservation problems may become easier for archivists to deal with. Also complicating current preservation problems in all areas is the lack of standards to meet all preservation practices in all types of institutions. In fact, the field of archives has many achievements in all areas throughout the last century, especially measured by traditional records and by the growing number of archives and theoretical developments that started with Schallenberg. But that does not mean the field is perfect by any means. Indeed, the field has faced many challenges that need effective efforts from archivists as a whole. Through the readings of the tenth week about electronic records, I learned about the unprecedented new challenges facing the fields that have been brought on by technologies that have changed the nature of records. Electronic Records presented recent challenges to many archival terms, including the language of technologists, how to manage these electronic records, and the challenges of preserving them. These challenges have attracted many archivists to identify them and indicate that in the last few years, advocates of the ideas of David Bearman have written that archivist need (New Paradigm) for electronic records. The new ideas would charge or overturn traditional archival theory and practice, as represented by T.R. Schallenberg and the first writers about electronic records. This article discusses several of the

Gregory S. Hunter, Developing and Maintaining Practical Archives (Neal-Schuman Publisher: New York, 2003) 157.

new ideas and differences between traditional archival writers and those who support a new paradigm for electronic records.3 In light of these challenges, I recognize the professional differences between traditional records and the electronic records and the demands of each kind. I think the future of the electronic records will likely depend on the current conflict and may lead to separation or division in the archival field into two main parallel streams in the same river. Because the experiences and skills of traditional records archivists do not seem prepared to meet the new kind of records, it might mean the emergence of a new field that needs new experiences and skills. However, all archivists will have to understand the basic archival functions, including selection, appraisal, arrangement, and preservation. The last issue in this essay that impacted my thought in the field is the archival profession. Through the readings of the thirteenth week, I imagine the archival profession is like small landlocked country that merged between big countries because problems political boundaries. Each country claims its mine originally. The bitter truth is the archival profession is not a profession yet compared with other sciences. Despite its old is around a century. Therefore, the archival profession needs more effective efforts, especially with archival theory that need developments to meet the demands of the field. At the same time, it was more practical than theoretical because it remains diverse in perspective. I think the sequence of challenges in the field make archivists efforts are scattered. But according to an ideal professions characteristics that determined by Flexner archivists are on the road to becoming a profession with public acceptance. There is a strong culture, high level of cohesion, and an emerging theoretical foundation.

Linda J. Henry, Schallenberg in Cyberspace, the American Archivist, Vol.61 (fall, 1998) 309.

In the end, the field is involved in many challenges more than I thought, but I am optimistic for the field in the United States because these challenges will participate for shaping the archival profession in all areas, especially with the electronic records issue to be an important profession and play it role in society and with other fields that has relations with the profession.