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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Archival law from the trenches : the impact of archival legislation on records management in commonwealth countries Goh, Elaine Mei Yee


Archival legislation in several Commonwealth countries provides the national archives with the statutory mandate to manage and preserve government records. The archival literature recognizes that archival legislation lags behind advances in technology and that it is often not robust enough to support the management and preservation of records. However, there is a lack of empirical research on how archival legislation is operationalized within specific socio-political, cultural, and juridical contexts, and on the perceptions of archivists and records managers about such operationalization. This dissertation addresses how the operationalization of archival legislation in the UK, Canada, and Singapore influences its effectiveness in the implementation of records management programs. The study takes into account the common law system based on an intergovernmental organization, the Commonwealth, as well as the different socio-political and cultural contexts of the countries. To explore the shared and varying views that archivists and records managers have on archival legislation, the study largely employs interpretivist perspectives and hermeneutic principles to examine interviews conducted with archivists and records managers, selected legislation, normative sources, and other documentary sources related to the enactment of archival legislation. The findings of this research suggest that archival legislation operates in the context of a patchwork constituted by other records-related legislation and normative sources, and that there are complexities involved in making amendments to such legislation. There are also organizational culture issues that stem from the institutional relationships between the national archives and government departments and the individual-level relationships of archivists and records managers. These issues can enable and constrain the delivery of a records management program. Additionally, the joint responsibilities in recordkeeping and record preservation held by the national archives and other departments that have an interest in information management result in a collaboration constraint and have contributed to a perceived lack of leadership on the part of the national archives in records management. The study concludes with recommendations for the decoupling of archival national institutions from national archival legislation, and for a comprehensive regulation of all aspects of records creation, maintenance, and preservation in the public sector.

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