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Stocking the memory store: an inspirational practical guide to defining community identity with records and archive.

* BOOK REVIEW

One of the challenges for archivists, record managers and museum professionals is how to determine the reach of their institution, or the boundaries of a particular community in constructing effective strategies and methodologies for selecting and maintaining appropriate material evidence. Community Archives: The Shaping of Memory offers a guide for archives and records professionals, as well as anyone else who is concerned with community building and social issues.

Professionals are well aware that records play a crucial role in shaping communities. Less clear, though, is how they determine either their own role or that of their institution as catalysts in this process.

There are also concerns about which technologies to use to overcome the challenges presented by capturing and documenting records.

CARE IN THE COMMUNITY

Community Archives explains how records professionals can support communities and examines the relationship of archivists to community records. It also focuses on recent advances in technology that can help overcome the traditional obstacles.

Editors Jeanette Bastian and Ben Alexander have carefully selected essays from 14 authors with distinctive perspectives on archives and communities and the interactions between them. Contributors, which include academics, consultants, archivists, librarians and cultural heritage specialists from around the world, explain how records and archives might form a basis for community identity, and how they can empower people and build and reinforce community memory.

The essays don't emanate from conferences or seminars but were written out of personal conviction and because experience has taught the writers the value of communicating their own vision of community. The gripping narrative, the chronology, the citations and the data in every single essay demonstrate admirable passion and valuable experience.

The book also explores the relationships between communities and the records they create at practical and scholarly levels. The essays unfold the ways in which records reflect community identity and collective memory. The publication is divided into five themes: a community archives model; communities and non-traditional record-keeping; records loss, destruction and recovery; how online technology brings communities and their records together; and building a community archive.

UTTERLY PRACTICAL

Most books on record and archive management merely reiterate the importance of records, or like other volumes in the Principles and Practice in Records Management and Archives series merely address the theoretical issues. But Community Archives is utterly practical.

Each chapter emphasises that success not just depends on the availability of evidence but also on the ability of archivists to recognise that evidence and to archive it. The book features individual experiences, case studies and real-life examples by global information experts and contextualises the issues for the professionals. In short, it is a book which takes the point of view of the professional rather than the information.

NEW CONTEXTS

The book successfully reflects the new technological contexts, societal changes as well as government initiatives that affect compliance, accountability, access to information and community relations--all factors that influence record managers' decisions. Individual essays explain how digital innovation initiatives have not just overcome traditional obstacles, but also generated newer opportunities, such as the creation of virtual communities.

The essays document experiences and insights from the UK and Australia to Fiji, Chile and Canada. They cover a broad range of topics, such as black culture archives, blogs and oral traditions.

The book begins with a model of community archives from the UK, moves on to non-traditional records, considers issues around record loss, destruction and recovery, and then considers online communities constructed around records. Common essay themes include how defining archives has become increasingly complex in a global society.

This mega-resource pools information and experience from every corner of the information and physical world. It is a must-read for professionals who wish to enhance their understanding of how records and archives shape human memory or who want to develop a deeper understanding of their roles and responsibilities as info pros in archives, museums or records institutions.

RELATED ARTICLE: Cambridge digital archive grows to over 3 million pages

* REVIEW

Cambridge Journals has completed the 2009 Collection of its digital archives, adding to over a century of digitised research material.

In this collection Cambridge Journals Digital Archives (CJDA) makes accessible over 3.3 million pages, the vast majority of which have not been available online before.

It includes content from journals such as Behavioural and Brain Sciences, British Journal of Political Science, The International Review of the Red Cross and the Journal of Fluid Mechanics.

During digitisation it was also discovered that many journals had previous versions and, wherever possible, these have been digitised as well. The International Review of the Red Cross now has three complete archives--in English, French and Spanish, all from different periods of its existence.

The resource features journal covers, content listings, prelims, plates and maps reproduced in their entirety, providing a complete digital reproduction of the original journal.

The article headers and references are created as HTML files allowing easy access to data and reference linking between articles. CJDA also makes Google Scholar book referencing available from HTML footnotes and further facilitates full reference linking to archive content via CrossRef.

Users can search across archives and have greater access to the complete body of research with content updates. They can also set up remote access options to browse through the archive at their convenience.

The resource allows archive content to be tailored to individual users' needs, with features including 'save your favourite articles' and 'export citations'. The archive is accessible by IP range, username and password, Athens, Shibboleth and referred url.

The process of digitising the 2010 Collection is already well under way and highlights will include the archive of Archaeologia, which dates back to 1770 and is associated with The Antiquaries Journal and the archive of another highly rated historical title, Speculum, which dates back to 1926.

CJDA is available in its entirety, as a package of either humanities and social sciences (HSS) or science, technology and medicine (STM) archives, or in subject based packages. The publisher will also provide downloadable content usage statistics.

IN BRIEF

Community Archives: The Shaping of Memory

Edited by Jeanette Bastian and Ben Alexander

Published by Facet Publishing

[pounds sterling]49.95 ISBN: 978-1-85604-639-8

An information-packed read, this compilation of essays focuses on strategies, methods and tips that help info pros preserve, use, provide and maintain material that shapes communities
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Title Annotation:RESOURCES; 'Community Archives: The Shaping of Memory'
Author:Venkatraman, Archana
Publication:Information World Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 1, 2010
Words:1048
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