ARCHIDIS: Cultural heritage, digital convergence and the archival perspective

The key note address by Jeannette A. Bastian from Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science in Boston formally kicked off the ARCHIDIS intensive program 2012 this morning. The topic (cultural heritage, digital convergence and the archival perspective) did not concern appraisal directly, which, according to Bastian, was intentional on her part because appraisal, regardless of its importance in archival theory and practice, must be understood in a larger cultural and societal environment.

Digital convergence is a growing trend. More and more material is digitized, and we are seeing more and more collaboration between libraries, archives and museums (LAMs), although not without challenges. LAMs share many concerns, roles etc., but the traditions and approaches to theory and practice differ. Bastian’s experience is that the archivists, librarians and museum curators don’t really communicate, although they are all, to some extent, concerned with the same mission (cultural heritage). We need to recognize this and start to bridge the divide with a common understanding of the values of each profession’s theoretical and practical application if we are to achieve a continuing convergence between our institutions.

In parts of the key note Bastian presented concrete examples of certain cultural institutions that have had (parts of) their collections described and presented by students from Simmons College in dedicated websites, especially focusing on the challenges that the projects encountered. Funding and the economic aspect was (of course) an issue, but also the opposition to change. Many institutions worry that digital availability will stop people from physically visiting the institutions, and therefore might hesitate to develop extensive digital solutions.

The discussion at the end of the key note revealed an engaged and knowledgeable group of people, both students and teachers. We’re off to a good start!

To learn more on Simmons College’s resources, see also my most recent Pinterest addition :)


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