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Journal Article

The Changing Nature of Archives: Whose Responsibility?  pp68-78

Mari Runardotter, Christina Mortberg, Anita Mirijamdotter

© Sep 2011 Volume 9 Issue 1, Editor: Frank Bannister, pp1 - 92

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The implementation of eGovernment and the increasing amount of e‑services leads to the production of huge amounts of digitally recorded information. In turn, this raises a demand for well‑functioning e‑archives, considering the laws and regulations of public and citizens’ rights and obligations. However, we find that there are difficulties in public organisations in dealing with the complex and challenging issue of digital preservation. Not only does eGovernment transformation change productivity, governance and governmental coordination and collaboration, it also transforms the everyday work practices of many public sector employees. A vivid example is archivists and archival work. The matter of e‑archives is often left to the archivists, who have limited power and influence to be able to deal with digital preservation to the extent needed. The research question we address is therefore: who should be held responsible for the changing nature of archives and digital preservation in an organization? Our aim in this paper is to analyse and discuss plans for, and layers of, responsibility for digital preservation as configured and reconfigured in archivists’ stories and Swedish national policy documents. We use a model that covers three arenas: political, organizational, and practical (or individual). Our findings suggest that to conduct good governance and create properly‑functioning e‑archives there is a need to spread the responsibility for these e‑archives and to plan for cooperation, coordination, and communication around digital preservation. This should happen in interplay between the various actors which hold the practical responsibility, technological responsibility and strategic responsibility. Additionally we note that the view of archivists as keepers of information is moving towards the role of facilitators, who support access to information rather than merely keeping it intact for future. Moreover, as a result of technological developments we find that issues to address in further studies are the present laws and regulations that govern archives, change of work practices and ways of dealing with digital preservation.


Keywords: digital preservation, eGovernment, digital archives, participatory design, actors, and agendas


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