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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The impact of Sweden’s access laws of archives Yoos, Holly Perrin


This thesis examines the effects of access laws on archives and uses Sweden as its case subject. The research seeks to address two key questions: first, how does legally guaranteed access to public records affect the role of archival institutions in records management and control and, second, how does legally guaranteed access to public records affect the quality of records as sources of mformation about government activity. Six Swedish archivists were interviewed, three from the National Archives' Department of Inspection and Consultation and three from other government agencies. According to these archivists, the public, the media and researchers strongly value Sweden's access laws, although the public tends only to use the laws for investigating matters that directly concern them. Unity of management is not fully realized in Sweden because the National Archives shares some of its responsibilities with other organizational bodies. Unity of control exists in Sweden and access laws are one factor that supports records control. The archivists argued that access laws can have a negative effect on the quality of records because officials occasionally fail to put matters into writing and, occasionally, the public will self-censor its correspondence with the government. However, by far a more common method of circumventing the access laws is to fail to register documents. Overall, none of the archivists felt that these activities occurred frequently enough to pose a major problem.

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