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Information technology, archives and archivists :an interacting trinity for long-term digital preservation

by Runardotter, Mari

Abstract (Summary)
This thesis revolves around archivists' current situation, and the fact that information technologies nowadays are tools that creates digital official documents which must be preserved for long-term. I have studied how the technologies affects and eventually changes archivists work practice and situation, and what recommendations that can be identified, in order to make sure that archivists' work practice runs smoothly in the future. That is, the research involves how archivists experience their situation, how they look at information technologies and long-term digital preservation, and also which areas they mainly focuses on, or feels most concerned about. My research consists of participatory observations conducted while following an archivist a couple of times each month for more than a year, data gathering at an archival conference for county council archivists, a future workshop and finally a focus group interview with archivists working at an existing e-archive. During my research I have focused on things or phenomena that engage archivists and causes problems in their daily work practice. These phenomena I have divided into the following themes: work practice, cooperation and communication, organisation, professional roles and competence, resources, attitudes, information technology, and finally laws and regulations. My research shows that there is lack of knowledge in archival matters among other professional groups in the organisations, which makes the archivists work practice unwieldy. Archivists must constantly remind, educate and support other personnel involved in archiving. The archivists express that they are ascribed low status in their organisations and that archiving is neglected and low-prioritised - something that is conducted when other work task are done. Concerning long-term digital preservation the archivists ask for The Solution, since they lack knowledge in information technologies. Moreover, archivists express that there are lack of knowledge in archiving, mainly among management and IT-personnel. Meanwhile archivists work rather alone, with little or none cooperation with IT-personnel. IT-departments are said to run their own race and archivists get not enough support from management. Cooperation and communication seem to be non-existing among these groups. Today many organisations do not have any strategies for long-term digital preservation. Often it is the archivists that are regarded to be the problem owner of this issue. In connection to this I have found that archivists are unsure of their own role and mission, and what competence they should possess. They claim that archivists are mainly connected with paper, and thereby they are shut out from long-term digital preservation issues. Moreover, archivists are not involved when e.g. new computer based systems are to be designed or implemented. Because of this archivists cannot influence the archival creation from the beginning. Lack of resources is also expressed by archivists, and involves lack of time, finances, personnel and competence. Moreover, information technology has caused that the respect for laws and regulations are declining, and digital documents are not regarded as official. Conclusions drawn are that there is lack of understanding of archivists work practice among other professional groups in the organisations. Archivists are expected to take care of and preserve information that exists in technologies with which they are not comfortable. Organisations has left the responsibility for long-term digital preservation to archivists alone, since the organisations have not succeeded in establishing cooperation and communication among concerned professional groups, especially archivists, IT personnel and management. This could seem as a paradox, since archivists are not involved when computer based systems are at stake, systems that generates the official documents that the organisation is obliged to
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Luleå tekniska universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2007

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