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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Archival theory and machine readable records : some problems and issues Bailey, Catherine Aileen


It is a common feeling among archivists that the basic principles of archival theory may have to be examined and redefined in light of the development of computer technology. This need exists not so much because archivists are currently faced with a new and unfamiliar medium, but because the new technology changes not only the uses made of the information but also the way in which we perceive it. The many attempts to approach the problem in the last twenty years have tended to be focused on single archival functions rather than on fundamental archival principles, and the solutions proposed were essentially practical. This thesis takes a global approach to archival theory and tries to answer the general question: are traditional archival principles valid as a guide in the treatment of machine readable records? In order to answer this question, the thesis puts into relationship the terminologies of computer and archival science, analyses and reconciles them, and proceeds to examine the basic concepts of the nature of archives and records, their life cycle, their appraisal, arrangement and methods of communication, and studies their application to machine readable records. The conclusion of this study is that the theoretical foundation of archival science is valid for the management of all archival documents regardless of their physical medium, and that any differences in treatment are a result of practical application of the theory. However, the development and diffused use of computer technology have opened new areas of concern to all archivists which must be explored from a theoretical perspective. Archival science does not, therefore, need to be redefined, but merely expanded.

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