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Archival description and automation: a brief history of going digital

Bunn, J; (2016) Archival description and automation: a brief history of going digital. Archives and Records: The Journal of the Archives and Records Association , 37 (1) pp. 65-78. 10.1080/23257962.2016.1145577. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper outlines a skeleton chronology of the computerization of archival description within the United Kingdom. Considering a period from the 1960s to the early 1990s, it describes many of the early experiments and systems developed in UK archives and sketches out how the vision of automation or ‘going digital’ changed over time, in line with advances and changes in the underlying technological landscape. It also seeks to consider how archivists reacted to the challenges of the computer both in terms of a move towards cooperation and working together, but also in terms of a growing focus on the standardisation of archival description and descriptive practice. This focus on standardisation is considered and interrogated through the interconnected lenses of both; a power struggle – the reassertion of professional (human) standards in a move towards specifying the requirements required by the machines; and the reconsideration of practice. It suggests that the answer as to the exact balance of power between archivist and computer probably remains mute, particularly in respect of the exact impact of the computer on driving changes in archivists’ thinking around their descriptive practice.

Type: Article
Title: Archival description and automation: a brief history of going digital
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/23257962.2016.1145577
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23257962.2016.1145577
Language: English
Additional information: Special Issue: Born Digital Description. Copyright © 2016 Archives and Records Association. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Archives and Records: The Journal of the Archives and Records Association on 25 April 2016, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/23257962.2016.1145577
Keywords: Automation, archival description, computerisation
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Information Studies
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1474208
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