Do Archives Have Value?

Aug 2019 | 240pp

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Do Archives Have Value?

Edited by Michael Moss and David Thomas

This book will explore ways of establishing and measuring value in the archives and special collections.
There is a vast literature about ways of measuring value for cultural heritage assets as a whole, particularly museums and visitor attractions, but archives and special collections in libraries have largely been overlooked.  They have been very poor at garnering statistical data and devising ways of measuring the impact of what they do, unlike museums and visitor attractions with their much heavier footfall.
Do Archives Have Value? discusses the various valuation methods available, including contingent valuation, willingness to pay and value chain, and assesses their suitability for use by archives and special collections. The book also assesses the impact of the transition to the digital in archival holdings, which will transform their character and will almost certainly cost more. The discussion will be set in the context of changing societal expectations of the archive in the wake of child abuse and other scandals where records to address grievances must be kept irrespective of cost.
 Value is explored in a range of different cultural and organizational contexts with case studies from a range of countries, including Australia, China, Japan, Malawi, Kenya, Russia and Thailand. There are contributions from Nancy Bell, Head of Conservation at The National Archives, Louise Craven, one of the leading UK archival scholars, Paul Lihoma, National Archivist of Malawi, Helen Morgan from the University of Melbourne, Pak Te Lee of the University of Hong Kong and Richard Wato from the National Archives of Kenya.
Key chapters include:
  • The value of the Clinton emails for research
  • The value of Russian archives before and after revolution
  • The value of archives in public inquiries - the case of the Hillsborough tragedy
  • The value of Find & Connect - Australia's response to child abuse
  • The Chinese long tradition of record keeping
  • Why and how to value
  • Valuing digital content
  • The commercialization of archives.
 Readership: This book will be useful reading for professional archivists and students on archival studies courses. In the wider world of cultural heritage valuation is of increasing importance in justifying services and bidding for scant resources. As a result, Do Archives have value? will also be of interest to senior management with oversight of libraries and museums, owners of collections and external funders.

About the contributors

David Thomas and Michael Moss

1 Valuing oral and written texts in Malawi
Paul Lihoma

2 Building an evidenced based culture for documentary heritage collections 
Nancy Bell, Michael Moss and David Thomas

3 Value in fragments: an Australian perspective on re-contextualisation
Helen Morgan, Cate O’Neill, Nikki Henningham, Gavan McCarthy and Annelie De Villiers

4 Trusting the records: the Hillsborough football disaster 1989 and the work of the Independent Panel 2010–12
Sarah Tyacke

5 Sharing history: coupling the archives and history compilation in Japan 
Sachiko Morimoto

6 Memories of the future: archives in India 
Swapan Chakravorty

7 Business archives in Hong Kong: an overview 
Pui-Tak Lee

8 The search for Ithaca? The value of personal memory in the archive of the digital age
Louise Craven

9 The commercialisation of archives: the impact of online family history sites in the UK
David Thomas and Michael Moss

10 A search for truthiness: archival research in a post-truth world 
Daniel German



Michael Moss is Professor Emeritus of Archival Science at the University of Northumbria. He was previously Research Professor in Archival Studies in the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute (HATII) at the University of Glasgow, where he directed the Information Management and Preservation MSc programme. Prior to being appointed to HATII, he was archivist of the University from 1974 to 2003. He was educated at the University of Oxford and trained in the Bodleian Library. He was Miegunyah Distinguished Visiting Fellow in the e-Scholarship Research Centre at the University of Melbourne in 2015. He was a member of the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Records and Archives from 2007 to 2015 and a non-executive director of the National Records of Scotland 2008–18. He researches and writes in the fields of history and the information sciences. His recent publications include: ‘Where have all the files gone, lost in action points every one?’ Journal of Contemporary History, 2012,; edited with Barbara Endicott Popovsky, Is the digital different?, (Facet Press Publishing, 2015); and ‘Understanding core business records’, in Alison Turton (ed.) International business records handbook, (Routledge, 2017).

David Thomas is currently a Visiting Professor in the i-School at Northumbria University, United Kingdom. Until 2013 he was Director of Technology at the UK National Archives, where he was responsible for the acquisition and preservation of digital records and websites from government departments, including the development of preservation systems. More recently he has researched and written on the silence of archives – why archives, despite their grandiloquent claims and high status, frequently do not contain the information which people might reasonably expect, and co-authored (with Val Johnson and Simon Fowler) The Silence of the Archive (Facet, 2017). He is currently researching the impact of falsification and fakes on memory institutions.


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