Guidelines for curriculum development in records management and the administration of modern archives

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<> Selected guidelines for the management of records and archives: a RAMP reader

Original : English

PGI 90/WS/6

Paris, March 1990

prepared by Peter Walne

General Information Programme and UNISIST

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

This document is the photographic reproduction of the author's text

Recommended catalogue entry:

Walne, Peter

Selected guidelines for the management of records and archives : A RAMP reader / prepared by Peter Walne /for the/ General Information Programme and UNISIST.   Paris : Unesco, 1990.   208 p. ; 30 cm. (PGI 90/WS/6)

I   Title

II   Unesco. General Information Programme and UNISIST

III   Records and Archives Management Programme (RAMP)

© UNESCO, 1990

<> Contents




The use of sampling techniques in the retention of records

Guidelines for curriculum development in records management and the administration of modern archives

Archival appraisal of moving images

Obstacles to the access, use and transfer of information from archives

Development of records managements and archive services within United Nations Agencies

The preservation and restoration of photogtraphic materials in archives and libraries

A model curriculum for the training of specialists in document preservation and restoration

The preservation and administration of private archives hives

Planning equipping and staffing a document reprographic service

The preservation and restoration of paper records and books

Records surveys and schedules

The archival appraisal of machine readable records

Archival appraisal of records of international organisations

Archival and records management legislation and regulations

The archival appraisal of photographs

Archives, oral history and oral tradition

Electronic records management and archives in international organisations

An introduction to archival automation

Archives and education

Survey on national standards on paper and ink to be used by the administration for records

Control of security and storage of holdings

Access to the archives of united nations agencies

The archival appraisal of sound recordings related materials

List of RAMP studies

<> Preface

In order to assist in meeting the needs of Member States, particularly developing countries, in the specialized areas of Archives Administration and Records Management, the Division of the General Information Programme has developed a long term Records and Archives Management Programme   RAMP.

The basic elements of RAMP reflect and contribute to the overall themes of the General Information Programme. RAMP thus includes projects, studies and other activities intented to :

- develop standards, rules, methods and other normative tools for the processing and transfer of specialized information and the creation of compatible information systems ;

  enable developing countries to set up their own data bases and to have access to those now in existence throughout the world, so as to increase the exchange and flow of information through the application of modern technologies ;

  promote the development of specialized regional information networks ;

  contribute to the harmonious development of compatible international information services and systems ;

  set up national information systems and improve the various components of these systems ;

  formulate development policies and plans in this field ;

  train information specialists and users and develop the national and regional potential for education and training in the information sciences, library science and archives administration.

During the third RAMP consultation (Helsinki, 13, 15 and 20 September 1986), the participants expressed the hope that ways and means could be found of facilitating the access of archivists of all levels to the mine of information, knowledge and know how contained in the studies and guidelines of the RAMP series which cover all aspects of archives. These studies and guidelines examine the challenges as well as the problems relating to archival theory and practice, training, and the use of informatics and the new media in the exercise of the profession.

Therefore it seemed useful to collect the main guidelines within a single textbook : RAMP Reader, in the hope of providing all those interested : teachers, young archivists, isolated archivists particularly in developing countries, with a handy reference tool in which they will find grouped together the varied ideas and experience of leading archivistds from all over the world. For senior archivists, we hope the Reader will offer another opportunity for the exchange of experience.

Comments and suggestions regarding the study are welcomed, and should be addressed to the Division of the General Information Programme, UNESCO, 7 place de Fontenoy, F 75700 Paris. Other studies prepared under the RAMP programme may also be obtained at the same address.

<> Foreword

Among the numerous specialized international intergovernmental organizations, only Unesco has been given primary responsibility for promoting the development of archives. During its first two decades most of its projects involving archives were of limited duration and usually in direct response to specific requests from Member States. In 1970, with the active support of the International Council on Archives (ICA), Unesco began to develop guidelines for a policy on archives development, but a series of internal reorganizations and financial problems prevented implementation of many of the proposed projects. It was not until 1979, following the establishment of the Division of the General Information Programme (PGI), which combined many of the functions and activities of an earlier unit dealing with documentation, libraries and archives with those of the UNISIST programme concerned with scientific and technological information, that Unesco was able to address adequately the problems of archival development.

The Unesco General Conference had earlier directed PGI to give special attention "to promoting the development of archives services", not only as "a factor in the preservation and presentation of the cultural heritage and of national identity" but "particularly as a tool for administrative efficiency". PGI was thus given clear responsibility not only for promoting archival development, but also for emphasizing the development of records management systems and services. As the Programme Specialist of PGI responsible for archives at that time, it was my pleasure and privilege to work closely with ICA in implementing these instructions from the General Conference. The result of our joint efforts was the Records and Archives Administration Programme (RAMP) which has now completed a decade of service to Member States.

As originally conceived, RAMP had two overall objectives:

- to promote and assist in the creation of a full awareness and understanding of the value and uses of records and archives as basic information resources, particularly in relation to planning and development and in conjunction with other information resources; and

- to assist Member States, upon request, in the organization and development of the records management and archival systems and services necessary for full and effective utilization of these basic information resources.

In achieving these specific objectives, it was also necessary that RAMP reflect, in its projects and activities, the overall mission of PGI, which at that time consisted of five interrelated themes:

1) Promotion of the formulation and information policies and plans (national, regional and international).

2) Promotion and dissemination of methods, norms and standards for information handling.

3) Contribution to the development of information infrastructures.

4) Contribution to the development of specialized information systems in the fields of education, culture and communication, and the natural and social sciences.

5) Promotion of the training and education of specialists in and users of information.

The present publication has its origins in the efforts of RAMP to contribute to the second of these themes. As indicated in the Working Document for the Expert Consultation held in Paris in 1979, to review and evaluate critically the draft RAMP programme, this component of the programme would be based upon studies and would take the form of a series of "guidelines, norms, standards and recommended methods, professional and technical (.. referred to collectively as "guidelines"), that would be "prepared by specialists, circulated for comment, [and] revised as reflect advances in technology and the results of research in records management and archival policies and practices".

The guidelines were to be based upon existing and especially commissioned studies; they were eventually to cover all basic archival and records management functions and activities, and were intended to be of value to both developed and developing countries. Priorities within both the overall PGI and the RAMP programme, and especially the availability of specialists to undertake studies at a particular time, largely account for the particular studies that were undertaken and the sequence of their completion. Additional Expert Consultations, held in West Berlin in 1982 and in Helsinki in 1986, reviewed the implementation of the RAMP programme to those dates and resulted in necessary modifications to enable the programme to respond better to changing needs and interests. The initial priority given to archival appraisal of various media and the emphasis upon preservation constitute the two major themes in this compilation of guidelines to those studies published between 1981 and 1986. A number of the guidelines have been tested, particularly by developing countries, and, with minor modifications to accommodate unique national circumstances, have demonstrated their value in establishing or improving systems and services. It is intended that this compilation will facilitate even more widespread use.


Washington, DC

October 1989

<> Indroduction

In his to this volume Dr Frank Evans has sketched and explained the genesis and development of Unesco's Records and Archives Management Programme, now better and familiarly known with the archival community world wide by its acronym RAMP.

The programme has been characterized as both a conceptual framework and an operating programme focussing attention upon basic archival and records management problems and contributing to their solution.

The series of RAMP studies published in steadily increasing numbers since 1981 serves as clear evidence of the programme's contribution to solving many problems, which hold the attention of archivists and records managers everywhere.

This compilation of Guidelines taken from those RAMP studies which have separate Guidelines is intended to make more easily and readily available the distillation of professional theories and practices which they contain and as a result make the Studies themselves more widely known and used.

Guidelines to some Studies are variously called by that name or entitled Conclusions or Recommendations. Under whatever name they appear, they are reproduced here.

To set Guidelines in context, chronological or methodological, Studies have Introductions which also serve to summarise their purpose and scope. With such editing as seemed appropriate to a work such as this, the Introductions are presented in their authors' own words.

Since Studies very in length, so consequently do Introductions and Guidelines. There is no overall uniformity in Studies of sectional and paragraph numeration, each has its own self contained numeration. In both Introductions and Guidelines, there are internal references to the main text of the Study concerned and these have been reproduced here to lead users to the relevant part of the Study. Introductions may also have self contained sets of footnotes and the footnote references in the text are reproduced but not the footnotes themselves.

As readers will see, there are Guidelines relating to the records and archives of UN agencies and other international organizations. Such Studies from which Guidelines are excerpted, whilst primarily addressed to this audience are of general applicability and useful at national and other levels. The principles and practices enunciated are such as to be useful to records and archive services on whatever scale.

Guidelines are presented in the chronological order of their issuance, which reflects the development and progress of RAMP as an operating system and the TABLE OF CONTENTS serves as a topical index.

The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of Unesco concerning the legal status of any country or territory, or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitations of its frontiers or boundaries.

The editor is responsible for the choice and presentation of the texts contained in this book. The opinions expressed therein are not necessarily those of Unesco and do not commit the Organization.

7, Place de Fontenoy, 75700 Paris, France. Copies of the Studies from which these Guidelines are excerpted and a list of other RAMP Studies and related publications may also be obtained from the same address.

7 December 1989

Peter Walne

<> The use of sampling techniques in the retention of records

Felix Hull


Among the various techniques adopted for reducing the bulk of certain classes of records is 'sampling', a method which can vary from a purely subjective choice of examples through a variety of procedures to an exact statistical process, providing an ideal objective answer for the student involved in the quantitative analysis of data. Insofar as this is a special procedure appropriate only in special circumstances and requiring careful assessment of method to be employed, size of sample required and precise evaluation for the purposes of research, it has been considered desirable to treat it as the subject for a special study. This study, therefore, is directed to one particular aspect only of records disposal and to one technique of appraisal, which should only be applied when circumstances indicate that a particular need is present.

Nevertheless, there is a certain misunderstanding prevalent regarding sampling. Terminology has tended, in the past, to be less than precise and the whole question of the use of sampling has given rise to much uncertainty and some misgivings among archivists. Here is a process which by definition leads to the destruction of a high proportion of the total documentation involved: can we be sure that the right material is preserved? Is the proper statistical sample required for accurate analysis by computer necessarily what the archivist looks for as part of his records, or indeed, what the historian or sociologist really needs? To what extent, if selection is inevitable, must purely objective criteria dominate; do we require the ordinary or the extraordinary in our archival sample? it is because of these many uncertainties; of questions of principle which disturb those concerned with sampling as it affects archives: and the desire for some assessment of procedures and for suggestions for suitable basic guidelines, that this study has been prepared for UNESCO in co operation with the International Council on Archives. It approaches the subject in two ways:

(a) by consideration of theoretical principles and methods of sampling; and

(b) by an examination of the experience of a number of national and other repositories where sampling has been practiced. On the basis of these assessments an attempt has been made to draw up some essential principles for the application of different methods, even if it has not proved wholly possible to state categorically what should or should not be done. In this study, too, it has not been overlooked that many repositories are increasingly concerned with non conventional archives and that pictures (still and motion) sound archives and machine readable records all play a part in the contemporary scene. Although still more difficult to assess within the terms of this study, these newer forms of records have not been ignored.

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