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7 The archives reader as a supplement to manuals and textbooks

The lack of comprehensive textbooks has been countered from time to time by the publication of essay collections: the archives readers. These are collections of articles by experts of archival theory and practice.

A Modern Archives Reader: Basic Readings on Archival Theory and Practice, edited by Maygene F. Daniels and Timothy Walch, was published in the United States in 1984. It was developed in response to the requirements of the Modern Archives Institute of the National Archives and Records Service, and most of its articles were first published in The American Archivist. It also includes some "classics" of archival theory, such as Some Aspects of Archival Development Since the French Revolution, by Ernst Posner, Reflections of an Archivist, by Hilary Jenkinson, The Appraisal of Modem Public Records and Archival Principles of Arrangement, by T.R. Schellenberg.

In 1985 Unesco published A RAMP Reader: Modem Archives Administration and Records Management, prepared by a working group of the ICA, and intented to supplement existing textbooks and manuals on archives administration and records management. The introduction to the work states: "Whilst these textbooks and manuals will remain basic required reading for all aspiring archivists and still be essential to the student for an understanding of underlying concepts and theories in these two fields, they suffer from two disadvantages: Firstly, they cannot provide an orientation in the greatly widened practices of the archival profession as they have evolved and developed since the end of World War II and particularly within the past three decades. Secondly, they were each conceived and written against particular administrative and legal backgrounds reflecting different systems, traditions and national practices. This engagement of the textbooks with the legislation and administrative traditions of each country is evident also in the summaries of the books in this study"

This Reader includes articles or reports, taken principally from archival periodicals or series. The texts were selected because they were sufficiently international in content, character, scope and/or applicability to provide the student archivist with a broader view of professional practices.

However, as the Reader's contents were written mainly in the Seventies, (and some even earlier), the work does not provide guidance on many current problems.

The RAMP studies of Unesco furnish useful supplementary material, and in 1990 Selected guidelines for the management of records and archives: a RAMP Reader was published. Prepared by Peter Walne, this is a compilation of those RAMP studies which have "Conclusions", "Recommendations" or "Guidelines" on some aspect of archival theory or practice. The Reader "is intended to make more easily and readily available the distillation of professional theories and practices, which (the studies) contain, and as a result make the studies themselves more widely known and used". With some editing, the individual authors' original introduction is also included.


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