chapter  2
7 Pages

Archives Administration

The archives profession is old and well established. Without archives, much of the world's cultural and historical heritage would be lost. In contrast to libraries, archives collect one-of-a-kind unpublished documents such as diaries, letters, legal papers, and oral histories — the primary documents upon which scholarship is based. Archival work is organized around five tasks: acquisition, description, rights management, preservation, and access. A repository is a physical site where documents are kept. It can be as tiny as a file cabinet drawer or as large as a national library. Archives are generally underfunded, and archivists spend much of their time justifying budget requests. The needs of oral histories are especially misunderstood. Staffing a small archive can be a big problem, and may be a reason for turning the collection over to a larger institution. Meticulous record keeping is essential to a well-managed archive.