Monday, 15 July 2013

Article Review: Archival Training in a Changing World

Article Review
Title: Archival Training in a Changing World
Author: Angelika Menne-Haritz
Publication: The American Archivist, Vol. 63, No. 2 (pp. 341-352)

This article is about the theoretical and pedagogical practices of the Marburg Archives School in Germany. The author claims that in the constant bickering between history and library science, archival science has earned its place as an independent discipline, which has led to a new set of demands to be placed upon archival instruction programs. I recently read Randall Jimerson’s article concerning the instructional methodology in Western Washington University’s archival science program and was wondering how other schools approached the topic. The beginning of Menne-Haritz’ article discusses how archives specifically and history in general are shaped by ideas of memory and oblivion and enforced by laws alternately protecting privacy and access. The skill of the archivist lies in the ability to be an interface and refrain from “adopting the same biases of the creators”. The Marburg Archives School uses a three pronged approach in their program; pre-employment education, continued training, and archival research. Although the article does not explicitly state the nature of an internship or the school’s commitment to post graduate employment or connectivity with its students, it implies just as much. The students are trained in the basics of the profession, experience the problems of daily archival work, and participate in the production of new knowledge through archival research activities. The author does state that it is this cycling through the curriculum that informs the coursework in subsequent years and gives examples of student projects and research that have had an impact over time. As I did not have an archival concentration in my MLS program, I can attest to the difficulty of trying to put the pieces together on my own. My practical experience has been invaluable, but gaining this experience while simultaneously learning about archival terminology, processes, and history would have been ideal. Comparing the WWU program with Marburg, I would say that they are different in description, 6-7 broad learning outcomes at WWU and 3 major ones at Marburg; their final products are fairly similar. They both have an emphasis the importance of archives as an independent discipline, and how critical it is for instruction to resemble the actual practice of working in the archives.    

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