SUV 2019 Conference Abstracts


Monday 1st July 2019


Geoffrey Yeo: Representation and the Future of Appraisal in the Digital Realm

This keynote paper will look at a range of ideas connected with representation and representativeness, and will consider how these ideas could be applied in developing appraisal strategies for the future. What should archival appraisal aim to achieve? What will archivists have to do to fulfil these aims in digital environments where records are being created in ever-growing numbers? Will appraisal need to be reinvented for the digital realm?

Geoffrey Yeo is an honorary researcher in the Department of Information Studies at University College London, where he taught archives and records management for almost 20 years. He is a frequent speaker at academic and professional conferences and a member of the editorial boards of Archivaria (Canada), Archives and Records (United Kingdom) and Arhivski Vjesnik (Croatia). His book Records, Information and Data: Exploring the Role of Record-Keeping in an Information Culture was published by Facet in 2018.

Session 1: Appraisal re-written? Current issues for records managers and archivists

Kamila Mádrová: Means of monitoring the life-cycle of a document by example of tasks of the CTU Archives

The contribution will focus on the role of the archives in record management within the Czech Technical University and on its tasks in pre-archival and archival care. The concept of the CTU Archives will be presented in comparison with other Czech university archives and registries in terms of its organization and inclusion in university structures. A related topic is the concept of registries - pre-archival care taking place directly at university bodies (faculties, institutes, etc.) to which these bodies are of direct interest. There will be presented the ways how the archival / historical value of individual agendas arising from the administrative activities of the university bodies is determined, according to which the selection of archival materials is subsequently realized. The methodological means will be clarified by which the archive can control the correct record keeping and circulation of documents at the university, as well as the problems encountered in the fulfillment of this task.

In the next part, the paper will focus on the selection of sources related to organization and internal shredding in archive files and it will be discussed whether and to what extent this selection should be left to the individual records creators, or if it should be only the responsibility of the archivist. The CTU Archives also deals with the selection of archival materials outside the institution's record management. This is the most frequent way of obtaining the documentation of the study or profession of CTU graduates or documentation of the activities of the teachers. This task often requires a professional archivist's interest and activity that goes beyond the normal workload. The author does not aim to describe a theory of the life-cycle of the document but to illustrate the selection of relevant archive sources on concrete examples from practice.

Isabel Rotthier and Charis Verbelen: Appraisal at the University of Ghent: a user-oriented approach

In 2006 Ghent University Archives launched a proactive policy on appraisal, for university board and administration as well as researchers, teachers and students. Combined with a strong user-oriented approach and a good share of pragmatism, this policy was crystalized in:

  • The compilation of retention schedules for records of university board and administration
  • Strict application of these retention schedules for governing bodies
  • A retention wish list, free of obligations, for researchers and teachers
  • Focus on exceptional and unique material, difficult to pin down in retention schedules
  • Training sessions “To keep or not to keep” and “Digital Hygiene”
  • Coordination of acquisition policies between archival, museological and library collections at Ghent University

This past decade new developments have had an impact on our appraisal policy: the 200 year anniversary of our alma mater, preparations for a brand-new university museum, the increasing digitization of our administration, a policy framework on research data management, closer collaboration with other collection managers at Ghent University and with our IT department, new legislation (GDPR) and an internal audit on archival and information management.

Our 2006 priorities turned out to be well chosen. Our proactive policy and user-oriented approach are highly appreciated by our board and the university community, and will be further developed in the near future.

This year we present a roadmap to the university Executive Board, with an up to date and well-functioning appraisal strategy and toolbox as one of its cornerstones. Digital and analog records are part of the same strategy. The first tools will be launched at the end of 2019.

Heather Briston: The rebirth of appraisal

Appraisal is a fundamental activity of archivists and archival repositories. It cuts across a wide swath of our workflows from the initial decisions and actions of collection development to processing and description decisions. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, appraisal decisions and methods were the key topic in North American archival literature. In that era, the leading North American archivists were writing about aspects of appraisal in books and articles, and conferences were filled with both theoretical and practical discussions of appraisal.

As a profession, our literature and conferences are the hallmarks of what we find is important. At the time we felt it was important because of the role that appraisal could play in supporting the decision of what to collect and keep, we were still coming to grips with the postwar explosion of records, and beginning to see the advent of born digital records and think about how we might address them. By 2005, with the publication of “More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Archival Processing” by Dennis Meisner and Mark A. Green (MPLP), the U.S. branch of the profession had another roadmap for archival choices, now facing the questions of what portions of and at what level should collections be processed and described. In the intervening period, this has focused the professional conversations. However, an MPLP focus appears to have come at the expense of the recognition of the role of appraisal. 

Now it is time to bring everything full circle, to recognize the role that appraisal, re-appraisal, deaccessioning, and MPLP have in archival work, but also in demonstrating the fundamental expertise of archivists. This paper will draw on the work and choices in this environment being made within the UCLA Library Special Collections and the work of the OCLC Research Collection Building and Operational Impacts Working Group.

Session 2: Who are we representing? Building diversity and inclusion into appraisal

François Dansereau: Hegemonic masculinity in the archives: a call for re-envisioning appraisal methodologies

Research in the archival field has established traditional archives as spaces of power where the norm is the preservation and description of dominant discourses. This environment has, therefore, created silences in the archives. As several authors have highlighted, mainstream archives have not been particularly welcoming to women and LGBTQ+ stories or have failed to appropriately describe their archives. This paper seeks to discuss and theorize the origin of these findings. If mainstream archives have had difficulties dealing with women and LGBTQ+ narratives, it means that they have been organizations largely dedicated to the preservation of men’s endeavors. In other words, traditional archives have mostly been masculine spaces of power, nurtured by social and cultural norms but also reinforced by passive appraisal frameworks and standardized descriptive practices.

Constructing the foundation of this paper on the concept of hegemonic masculinity, originally developed by R.W. Connell, I seek to discuss the inherent connection between masculinity and mainstream archives. The association of hegemonic masculinity – defined by Connell as being dynamic and constructed along social and cultural frameworks – with archives is proposed along with theoretical notions that challenge appraisal characteristics. The integration of a gendered analytical framework in the archives results in the questioning of traditional appraisal strategies. Marika Cifor’s theorization of affect theory and appraisal, and Cifor and Stacy Wood’s critical feminist approach, for example, serve as crucial frames of reference that allow for the introduction of critical masculinity discourses in archival theory. This paper call for a re-envisioning of appraisal approaches along a gendered analytical framework in order to confront traditional notions of appraisal and to participate to the elaboration of an inclusive archival realm.

Cara Bertram and Jessica Ballard: Engaging underrepresented groups through archival appraisal

Appraisal of student records is an essential part of building a complete narrative of a university’s history. Within this process, it is important to capture the experiences of underrepresented student groups. A rich source of documentation of both student life and campus diversity comes from the records produced by university ethnic student clubs, cultural houses, and sororities and fraternities with historically minority membership. The formation, activities, and dissolution of ethnic student organizations can help to shape an understanding of a university’s demographic, social, and political history.

Working with and building relationships with organization advisors and student members is important to forming good appraisal decisions of the records they produce. This process can engage stakeholders in appraisals decisions and helps archivists to develop an understanding the context of the records. Creating these relationships can also help archivists understand how students view the ownership of the records they produce. While a retention schedule may classify student organization records as university records, many students may interpret them as belonging solely to the organization and its members. These differing views of ownership can affect the appraisal process and potentially strengthen or damage relationships with these student groups.

This paper will examine examples from appraisal projects with the Ethnic Student Center at Western Washington University and the Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It will also include an analysis of the appraisal of records from ethnic student organizations and discuss the importance of working with stakeholders in appraisal decisions, understanding ownership of records, and working with and without retention schedules for student organization records.

Ellen Engseth: Cultural Competency and Archival Appraisal

This paper will explore the intersection of cultural competency and archives, addressing the conference theme of “inclusiveness and diversity in appraisal.” In it, I will present cultural competency as a framework for acquired diversity within the archival endeavor. And I will share models of culturally competent archival work, as academic archivists are engaged in work based in self-cultural awareness that incorporates empathy, humility, care, and support for a variety of cultural norms.

Cultural competency is a management tool towards workplace diversity and inclusion. It is variably known as intercultural competency, cross-cultural competency, cultural diversity competency, global competency, and international mindedness; it is multifaceted and flexible; and it best understood as a framework or set of concepts. Cultural competency begins with an awareness of self; this self-cultural analysis reveals biases and values, among other things. Cultural competency is process oriented, emphasizing growth and action. In general, scholars and practitioners across various disciplines agree that cultural competency is management of human interactions across differences, with results of more appropriate and effective outcomes at the individual, relational, group, and organizational levels.

Emerging work on cultural competency in the archival profession fits squarely into the milieu of broader movements and intellectual developments affecting archival theory and practice. This paper will articulate these in the context of library and information studies; analyze international activity; consider the application of global competency to archival core skills and functions including appraisal; and offer early perspective on cultural competency vis-à-vis appraisal theory and practice.

Session 3: Innovative appraisal: dealing with the papers of academics and faculty

Karolien Claes: Forget retention schedules. Appraising academic records can’t be scheduled

Can we still use retention schedules or do we need to find other ways to appraise digital documents created by administrations and faculty members? The answer is two-folded; retention schedules keep their value for records created by the faculty- and central administration, but never were a usable tool for a lot of documents created by faculty members or research groups.

Appraising records related to academic education or research has always presented a challenge. Rather than a retention schedule, we have to take the context into account and deal with the records on an ad hoc basis. What was the importance of a faculty member, was the research ground-breaking, how do we capture evolving educational fields,…? The challenge of appraisal hasn’t changed with the introduction of digital documents, it became more complex.

The way we approach appraisal is different. In an analogue society one could wait until a faculty member retired, review the archive and decide. Digital documents however require that we intervene faster. We have to approach faculty members at the start of their carrier, not at the end.

We might not keep the records of a faculty member, we can’t foresee it at the start of an academic carrier. But without rules and education about recordkeeping we risk losing records before we can appraise them. Not just their records, but also the records created by research groups. Potentially records we can’t interpret because we’re not scientists in that field.  Add to this the growing importance of data management and appraisal becomes more about sustainability and good recordkeeping than about deleting records.

Ruth Bryan: Appraisal frameworks used to deaccession part of a university faculty personal papers collection: the case of the artist’s scrapbooks

In 2015, the son of a living University of Kentucky (UK, Lexington, Kentucky, USA) faculty member who had donated his papers to the University of Kentucky Libraries Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) requested the return of the family scrapbooks included in his father’s collection.  The son claimed that his father had not actually owned the scrapbooks.  The son also argued that the scrapbooks had no historical value, because he claimed they did not relate directly to his father’s work.  The collection of faculty papers had been acquired 10 years before when different staff with different donor relations emphases and different appraisal viewpoints had been involved in the acquisition and processing of the collection.  In 2017, after several discussions with SCRC leaders and negotiation with the donor himself, the university archivist agreed to deaccession the scrapbooks in order to maintain positive donor relations.  However, this decision was taken in opposition to previous and current archivists’ appraisal of the items’ historical value.  This presentation will explore the selection decision frameworks—administrative, cultural, and interpersonal—operating in the 12-year span of the acquisition, processing, and deaccessioning of this university faculty papers collection and of the scrapbooks specifically.  The presentation will thus reflect on the documentary mission of university archives in a public, American university and the role of faculty papers in that mission.

Tuesday 2nd July 2019

Session 4:  The International Council on Archives

Rob Fisher: The ICA Expert Group on Appraisal: recent Initiatives and new directions

The speaker will present on some of the recent activities and initiatives of the ICA Expert Group on Appraisal (EGA). The Expert Group on Appraisal was formed in 2015 to lead the ICA’s participation in the Content Selection team in the multidisciplinary UNESCO PERSIST Project. The paper will discuss the EGA’s role in the development of the UNESCO/PERSIST Guidelines for the selection of digital heritage for long-term preservation; efforts reviewing and advising on the ISO technical report, Appraisal for managing records, and liaising with the ISO Archives and Records Management committee; and other initiatives and plans for the future.

Session 5: Debate about appraisal issues

Shannon Hodge, Kiara King,  Jen Povey

Session 6: Appraisal in the digital world: new approaches?

Elaine Penn:  Appraising digital records, or swimming in treacherous shoals?

This paper explores the theoretical and practical issues of selection and appraisal when dealing with digital records. The complex technological environment of the 21st century has led to an ‘ecology of systems’ in which users have a myriad of systems and software to choose from when creating, saving and storing unstructured digital information. This has challenged the ability of archivists to identify, transfer and/or dispose of digital records. In order to find a means to appraise all of this information in an effective way I will consider the possibilities of a solution based on a methodology originally devised for traditional paper records: the ‘More Product, Less Process’ method, developed by two American archivists, the late Mark A. Greene and Dennis Meissner. This paper will examine the core tenets of the methodology and the appropriateness of its application to the digital world. In doing so, the paper will also draw on work undertaken as part of a JISC grant award in 2017-2018, in connection with the Research Data Shared Service (RDSS) Digital Preservation Pilot Programme, including two workshops held with UK practitioners.  The paper will consider the merits of a ‘good enough’ approach to digital appraisal as well as reflecting more broadly on the challenges and opportunities presented by digital curation and preservation.

Susanne Belovari: Simple and expedited appraisal

Although most archives are responsible for digital records, regular archivists often lack the resources (time, money, hardware, labor, skills etc.) as well as simple and tested software to appraise them.

Digital collections are typically huge, unstructured, contain many duplicates, non-essentials, difficult formats, and imprecise metadata. Appraising such ‘collections’ is therefore essential in reducing their size and complexity and in helping future researchers to locate what they need. Because digital appraisal/processing is done partially or largely using software, we and our professional organizations have to start testing and evaluating those in order to assure that the software actually and reliably execute and document said interventions.

Working with the State Archives Baden-Württemberg/Staatsarchiv Ludwigsburg, Germany, on two research projects I developed a simple MPLP approach and workflow for digital appraisal (i.e. processing) for a large digital collection and, in a second step, for hybrid collections.

In the first research project, I tested 10 deduplication software (80% failed), I selected a user friendly and inexpensive software and appraised 670 GB in four days and developed a simple workflow of broad and in-depth qualitative appraisal. I highlight the importance of appraisal factors, present a list of desirable software features, and call for the establishment of peer-reviewed online testing sites administered by archival organizations.

In the second research project in 2018, I experimented with various workflows to appraise hybrid collections that contained various digital formats and privacy concerns.

Basma Makhlouf Shabou: On the path to an intelligent appraisal: innovative Swiss projects

The growing volume of documents in different organizations is becoming a major concern for managers in the public and private sectors regardless the fields on witch those documents are produced and accumulated. This difficulty takes on a greater dimension because of the diversity of the typologies and medias of the documents added to the complexity of their formats. To be able to conduct properly missions, functions, tasks and related processes in a given organisation, information need to be identifiable, reachable, usable easily and securely. For this reason, the whole lifecycle of each information need to be defined as well as their owner and manager. Retention rules and tools need to be established then. In this context, the question of defining what to retain of a voluminous informational whole to be preserved durably raises. The contribution of appraisal in this respect is decisive. This major function proposes strategies, methods, tools and criteria to help selecting relevant documents worthy of preservation. Recently, the interest to examine the opportunity to systematise and automate the appraisal process and tools is developed. In the same vein, thanks to an interdisciplinary approach developed in the Computational archival science field, researchers are working on innovative initiatives based on algorithmic methods.

After a brief introduction to the main appraisal strategies, this presentation will highlight its centrality in the field of archival science and information governance. Secondly, it will present relevant Swiss experiences and projects performed on the automation of appraisal function.

Session 7:  Appraisal challenges: websites, social media and emails

Bethany Anderson: Beyond controversy: appraising websites and social media in the University Archives

On June 10, 2012, news broke that Teresa A. Sullivan, the first female president of the University of Virginia (UVA), would step down, due to “philosophical differences” between Sullivan and administrators over the university’s budget. Following public outcry, Sullivan was reinstated and the administrators who had called for her removal were removed from their positions. More recently, the UVA community experienced another traumatic event--the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally on August 11 and 12, 2017. Taking these two examples alone, the University of Virginia has experienced its share of controversies and tragedies.

These events prompted archivists and librarians at UVA to develop strategies for collecting web and social media content that documents the controversies. Other universities followed suit, employing methods and tools to collect and preserve websites, tweets, and other digital content to document controversial events in their own respective academic communities. Yet, capturing hashtag or event-based controversies and tragedies alone leads to a misleading and incomplete record of the university’s activities. This paper explores the implementation of a macro-appraisal framework at the University of Virginia Archives for documenting evidence of events, activities, and processes at UVA, asking how we can ethically preserve a record that is meaningful to future researchers. Moving beyond controversies and tragedies, macro-appraisal enables us to capture the level of interaction of the public with the functions of the university.

Several decades ago, Helen Samuels advocated that archivists take more active roles in documenting their institutions. Web and social media event collecting requires this shift in archival practice away from passive acquisition to active documentation. And to collect this content responsibly and methodically, archivists must move away from collecting social media based on content uniqueness, and instead place greater emphasis on the administrative and social processes that create this evidence.

Rachel MacGregor: Email appraisal: developing strategies to tackle a complex problem

Appraisal – “the process of distinguishing records of continuing value from those of no further value so that the latter may be eliminated” (TNA, 2013) - is subject to much theorising but in practice driven by necessity. The two generally converge with a mixture of experience, policy and pragmatism based on decades of discourse shaping approaches and practice. Whilst these approaches can be applied to some digital records, a world of Big Data and non-hierarchical administrative systems invite new theoretical approaches and require new practical ones.

Every organisation creates emails which are “records of continuing value” and individuals create emails of continuing value both within and without organisational structures. “Email is not one thing, but a complicated interaction of technical subsystems for composition, transport, viewing, and storage.  Archiving email involves multiple processes.” (CLIR, 2018) At the same time emails come with all of the complexities of the digital relating to integrity and authenticity.

Email appraisal might best be done by the creator, however this is for the most part does not happen and there is a need to develop a range of technical and strategic approaches which will give the capacity to gain intellectual control over the collections.

At the University of Warwick the aim is to develop a strategy for the management and long term preservation of emails. This involves assessing the risks, mapping out the constraints and developing a practical approach to appraisal which will take into consideration the volume of emails, the handling of sensitive data and how to make email collections discoverable in the future.

This paper will explore how the strategy is developed, learning from previous studies, analysing current thinking around the nature of records/information/archives and understanding the practicalities of the environment in which an institutional archive operates.

Session 8: Dealing with different record types

Renata Arovelius and Karl Pettersson: Challenges with attaining a satisfying level of electronic appraisal

Appraisal in university archives puts new demands on ways of managing records, in particular digital-born records. While paper-based records can be destroyed directly, this is not possible with digital carriers and media, as we have to deal with both the physical and the logical part of information.

Swedish archival legislation gives rules for management of public records, which university archives have to apply. There is no difference between paper and electronic records in that respect. If the rules tell that electronic records are subject for deletion, the deletion must be carried out so that the records cannot be recovered. With digital records hence, the focus must be put on software-based methods of appraisal as a rule.

Appraisal in software can be carried out at different levels, information may be flagged as deleted, a pointer to the information may be removed (e.g. deletion of a file in the file system), and the information may be over-written. At the first two levels, there is no guarantee that the information cannot be recovered. For classified information, it is accordingly crucial that the information is over-written. However, there are some challenges with ensuring that information in fact is destroyed, e.g. arising from complex abstraction levels in modern file and storage systems.

Currently, there are no specific rules in effect for appraisal, in particular automated appraisal, in different electronic systems. This is a global issue, as to in relation to international legislations, e.g. GDPR, and issues on management of and public access to research data. Therefore, SLU´s archives has started a joint action together with IT,  information security and law department in order to formulate such rules.

Maryna Chernyavska: Challenges of appraising folklore materials

Starting from the 1970s, understanding of the archives and archivist’s role has changed. The focus in appraisal shifted to documenting citizens as much as the state, margins as much as the centre, dissenting voices as much as mainstream ones, cultural expression as much as state policy, the inner life of human motivations as much as their external manifestation in actions and deeds (Cook, 2013). And yet, existing appraisal theories frequently do not satisfy everyday needs of archivists in the context of their archives. In practice, the approach to appraisal is archives- and often archivist-specific. “The exercise of appraisal is circumscribed – bounded by the appraiser’s ability and experience, shaped by the specific constraints in his or her working realities, and reflecting, inevitably and naturally, the norms shared by archivists” (Craig, 2007).

Appraisal theories normally address organizational or governmental records, rather than personal archives. In the case of folklore archives, when we deal with exclusively private records, applying known appraisal theories can be challenging. Moreover, in many cases folklore archivists have been trained as researchers and folklore scholars rather than information professionals. Therefore, they apply principles and theories derived from folkloristics to identify value of folklore materials to be preserved in archives. This presentation will explore how folklore archives and folklore archivists appraise folklore materials for acquisition and selection. What is archival value in the context of folklore archives? What are the approaches to appraising folklore materials? How archival theories of appraisal interact with the principles of folkloristics as a discipline?

Jacqueline Eccles, University of Dundee, Scotland: Using the past to create the future: how asylum records are helping mental health service users tell their stories to future generations

This paper looks at the role of archivists and others in creating archives. Based on a model established by Norfolk Archives (Change Minds), the University of Dundee’s Caroline Brown (archivist) and Jacqueline Eccles (mental health nurse lecturer) are mid-way through a project bringing service users and asylum records together. The project allows those with lived experience of mental health challenges to explore the experiences of their predecessors. The project has made full use of the extensive collection held by the archives, enabling the participants to place the experiences of those whose stories they discover in a local context. In the second part of this project, participants will tell their own stories, using various media, which will be preserved in the archives, allowing future generations to learn from their experiences.

Wednesday 3rd July 2019

Session 9: De-accessioning and re-appraisal

Sarah Rodriguez: Retrospective Appraisal – a case study: or how to throw away one fifth of your archives

In 2017 the Special Collections Division of the University of St Andrews Library commissioned an external review of its backlog of uncatalogued archive collections. In one of the biggest surveys undertaken by the consultant archivists, their hard-hitting report assessed a percentage of the University’s uncatalogued collections and revealed that we had a 50-year backlog. A case was made for appointing dedicated staff to begin to implement the report’s recommendations. The focus of the presenter’s role over the last year has been on retrospective appraisal of uncatalogued legacy backlog material in both the University’s institutional archive and wider manuscript collections in the context of an acute ongoing space crisis within the Library.

This paper outlines some of the issues raised during this retrospective appraisal process, including: how we made a case for institutional support for additional resources to undertake core archival tasks at a time of financial stringency and what metrics are required to ensure such support; the challenges of a tiered approach to re-appraisal decisions which have had to involve staff at all levels of the library’s hierarchy as well as external stakeholders; the importance of an ongoing review of collecting policy, accessioning and appraisal processes and documentation and the method for and benefits of conducting a re-appraisal exercise, resulting in a 20% disposal and expanded knowledge of the collections. The retrospective appraisal of our uncatalogued collections is still ongoing but has allowed us to begin the rationalisation of our holdings and has challenged us to ask difficult but important questions about how we manage our uncatalogued legacy collections going forward.

Lorraine McLoughlin and Rachel Hosker: How to keep a clear conscience in a foggy environment, or ‘accountable subjectivity’ in archival appraisal

Having identified the need for a flexible methodology to tackle the long-standing dark fog surrounding appraisal at the University of Edinburgh, an ‘Appraisal and Collections Review project’ was initiated at the beginning of 2017. It was decided early on that this project would prioritise two objectives: 

The development of a methodology to be used in multiple environments and allowing for transparency in decision-making on appraisal.
That the fundamental principles underpinning the methodology would reflect the theoretical considerations of archival appraisal as articulated widely by archival theorists.

In this paper we will discuss the resulting development of a collections review and appraisal methodology based on the flexible approach we have come to refer to as “accountable subjectivity”, a phrase drawn directly from Terry Cook’s 2011 paper ‘We Are What We Keep’ in which Cook declares that we should not shrink from subjectivity but should instead “carry out the actual work [in] defendable, accountable, well-researched, participatory, and transparent ways”.

With this principle in mind we will analyse our own experiences, while taking the opportunity to be upfront and vocal about the confusion often (if not always) encountered by archivists who are daring enough to face appraisal head-on. We will discuss these experiences alongside those of others such as Libby Coyner and Jonathan Pringle in their assessment of “collaborative collection development” in the Arizona Matrix Project[3] and also draw on the ethical and anthropological issues of representation and power outlined in the writings of (amongst others) Joan Schwartz and Elisabeth Kaplan.

Yves A. Lapointe: How to re-appraise institutional records?

McGill University is on the eve of celebrating its bicentennial. On the other hand, the McGill University Archives was created in 1962. Since then, our profession as evolved considerably. Over the years, the personnel in custody of the University records has been limited. The amount of records produced by the institution has exponentially exploded, as it is most likely the case for many other institutions. So much,  that over time, the necessary storage space became insufficient. Adding a new storage facility would have solved the dilemma, and that’s probably what happened over the last 50 years. Unfortunately, for today, this is not an option. We now have to face reality and find an approach to review what is in our custody. Moreover, with repositories currently used beyond their full capacity, we were tasked to significantly reduce our records footprint in a limited amount of time.

How do you review the equivalent of 46 thousands record boxes when you are uncertain of what you have in your holdings and when you realize your tools are out of date?  The challenge also resides in verifying the accuracy of all the accessions.

This presentation will review how the McGill University Archives established a review of its holdings and established its own methodology building at the same time the key elements for best practice in records management, developing new tools. Based on well-established archival appraisal theory and practice, this methodology draws on guides, recommendations and best practice in the field. While the University is bound to governmental obligations in terms of recordkeeping requirements, the University Archivist is also part of a leading group that is putting up together new guidelines for Quebec universities that will set new grounds for retention rules. Are retention rules the answer to the question of re-appraisal of institutional records?

Session 10: Same or different? Comparative appraisal

Sidney Netshakhuma: The university of Witwatersrand and the University of Venda: comparative study on the appraisal of university records

The importance of records appraisal in South Africa universities is worth prioritizing during strategic planning. Appraisal of records is essential to improve compliance with legislations, enhance records preservation, enhance access to information and basis for records retentions. The literature review showed congestion of records, lack of non-compliance with legislations, loss of vital university records and lack of access to information. The researcher found that   records were not properly appraised which   lead to the loss of vital records, no compliance with the following legislations: The Constitutions of the Republic of South Africa 1996, National Archives and Records Service Act 43 of 1996, The Promotion of Access to Information Act (“PAIA”), No 2 of 2000 and The Protection of Personal Information Act, No 4 of 2013 and Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, 2002 No. 25 of 2002. The absence of a records appraisal in the universities would have a negative effect on the effective management of records as a strategic resource. The research utilizes   qualitative method to collect data from the university of Witwatersrand and the university of Venda. The purposeful sampling was used to collect data from the source point. The head of universities divisions and units were selected to collect data. Most of South African universities are still struggling with the appraisal of records as there is no uniform standard to appraise university records. Some of the records managers relied on the developed countries models to appraise their records.  The study recommended a framework for university records appraisal to eventual disposal to ensure effective support functions of university.