Panel: Defining the Archive*
Sponsored by Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers
This session considers the inconstancy of the term “archive” and how ever-changing notions of what archives are, or should be, present both challenges and opportunities in the work that we do. From the French Revolutionary ideas of transparency and authority to contemporary ones informed by the technological utopianism of Silicon Valley, it is a term that shapes the public understanding of our profession and shifting estimations of its overall value to society. The session will wed reflection on historical and theoretical contexts with more immediate, front-line awareness of how those contexts might inform the present day decisions that archivists, librarians, and professionals in the rare book trade make about the historical record, from the primary identification and acquisition of significant archival materials, to their description, preservation, and use.
Drawing on diverse perspectives, this panel is organized around the following set of questions:
-How has the meaning of the terms “archives” and “archive” evolved over time? How do you use it in your professional practice?
-Does our current use of the terms generate any blind spots? If so, what will the impact be on the historical record?
-What will the archive of the future look like? Will there be a role for appraisal and selection?
-How do we assign value, intellectual and financial, to the digital archive? Has our perception of the value of physical archives changed at all?
Panelists will present brief papers in response to these questions and engage in a moderated discussion with one another and the audience.
Moderator: Sean M. Quimby, Director, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University
*This session will be recorded.