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Library and Information Studies

What Is Archival Studies?

Archives play a critically important role in many aspects of society. As repositories of a culture's unique documents, records and other texts, archives serve as basic tools for social accountability, the preservation and dissemination of historical memory, and the development of a richer understanding of cultural, social and political forces in an increasingly digital and networked world.

In addition to covering traditional archives and manuscripts theory and practice, this area of specialization addresses the dramatic expansion of the archival field. It charts how accelerating technological developments have changed both the form of the record and methods for its dissemination and preservation. It responds to shifting social and political conditions as well as the increased codification of archival practice through local and international standards development. It actively engages debates about archival theory and societal roles in diverse archival and cultural jurisdictions.

The specialization comprises a range of courses, experiential components, and research opportunities. Courses explore the full spectrum of archival materials (e.g., paper and electronic records, manuscripts, still and moving images, oral history); the theory that underlies recordkeeping, archival policy development and memory-making; and the historical roles that recordkeeping, archives, and documentary evidence play in a pluralized and increasingly global society.

Examples of student emphases within the Archival Studies specialization include:

  • Appraisal and collection-building
  • Preservation of traditional and digital materials in a range of media
  • Development of new methods for providing access based on the needs of diverse and non-traditional constituencies
  • Design and development of automated records creation and recordkeeping systems
  • Design and development of archival information systems, metadata including, inventories, finding aids and specialized indexes
  • Curatorship of both site-specific and virtual exhibits
  • Development, evaluation, and advocacy of archival and recordkeeping law and policy
  • Scholarly research on comparative archival traditions
  • Use of archival content in K-12 education
  • Intellectual property management and digital licensing of primary sources
  • Archival administration: from staff development to grant writing
  • Providing reference and outreach services
  • Management of special collections, archives, and manuscript repositories
  • Design and supervision of digitization initiatives