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4. Criteria for textbooks and manuals, their usability and contents

In her report for the Hague Symposium Marie-Claude Delmas suggests that, from the point of view of an instructor, a good textbook should be:

- of a manageable format.

- for daily use (hence the need for a convenient format), with a good summary and an index.

- instructive (and therefore it has to be clear and precise).

- a guide to basic principles and references.

These criteria are as valid for textbooks used in archival training as for manuals used by archivists in their daily work. However, Marie-Claude Delmas concludes that textbooks as she describes them do not exist at least in the French context where teachers use mainly lecture handouts and copies of articles from archival journals, and manuals are designed for the practicing archivists.

There is a similar conclusion in the report from the USA. Francis Blouin writes that of the publications dealing with archives administration, none really falls into the category of "textbook". Hermann Rumschöttel notes the same situation in Germany in his article on the education of the archivists: "the lack of technical and practical textbooks for archives administration causes difficulties in teaching".(1)

Thus, there would appear to exist a need in most countries for comprehensive textbooks suitable for training and, as a recommendation, we would suggest that archival institutions in the most developed countries include such textbooks in their publication programme.

The usability of textbooks and manuals also depends on whether they are meant mainly for a national or an international readership. In a national context an archivist should have a knowledge of, for example archival sources, the structure of archival institutions and their history, the legislation regulating archives administration, records management and the use of archives. As these topics differ substantially from country to country, manuals are often only partly usable in the international context.

The manuals and guides of the Soviet Union and of the former Eastern bloc countries differ from corresponding publications in certain western countries. However, it seems that differences in the archival theory have been partly those of terminology. Different views of history have also influenced practical decisions on appraisal, for example. In any case, the social and economic reforms in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union may now lead to a harmonization between eastern and western archival theory and practice.

There is also a substantial difference between archival training given in some European countries with an old archival and documentary tradition and that provided, for example, in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada and Australia which concentrates more on the management of contemporary records.

However, international practice does provide a basis for comparison, and many problems are common to all countries. From this point of view, international textbooks and reference works are clearly needed. These could include, for example, teaching packs of material extracted from existing manuals and professional journals: such a publication programme might well be appropriate to the ICA.

NOTE:

1 Hermann Rumschöttel, Die Ausbildung wissenschaftlichen Archivars an der Bayerischen Archvischule München.

2 Wilhelm A. Eckhardt (ed.), Wissenschaftliche Archivausbildung in Europa. Marburger Vorträge. Veröffentlichungen der Archivschule Marburg-Institut für Archivwissenschaft, Marburg 1989.


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