Kari Atkinson
IST 622
Cultural Heritage Preservation
Dr. Kenneth Lavender
December 17, 2010
Final Exam
1. Our course stressed the importance of cooperation between the many facets of cultural
heritage preservation. Institutions such as archives, museums, libraries, and even archaeological
sites serve similar purposes. The methods and means will likely vary, however, the goals are
remarkably similar. Integrated access is one method of cooperation and preservation available.
As the OCLC states, in the exam quote, it allows libraries, museums, and archives to
"maximize their efficiency and impact by working more closely together."1 There are a couple
of main arguments for integrated access. First, is the "users don't care who manages the stuff,
they just want access to it" and second, is the "economies of scale."2 In other words, integrated
access allows these institutions to provide access to a broader population through partner
organizations. As well as stretching the funds of each institution, during a time of economic
On the converse side of this argument, we see opposition due to "perceived
incompatibilities." These may be from the differences in mission statements, descriptive
practices, or the third-wheel feeling that may arise within one or more of the partner
OCLC, August 11, 2009, "Library, Archive and Museum Collaboration," (accessed December 13, 2010).
Diane M. Zorich, Gunter Waibel, & Ricky Erway, Beyond the Silos of the LAMs:
Collaboration Among Libraries, Archives and Museums (Dublin: OCLC Online Computer
Library Center, Inc), OCLC Research, 6, PDF.
institutions.3 As the second statement points out each institution may have "borders," such as
the ones listed above, that prevent it from fully participating in integrated access. However, one
of the most important premises that I got from class was not the importance of these institutions
becoming one and the same. It was that each institution, in its own way, preserves and allows
access to cultural materials. So, while every institution may not be able to fully participate, if
various institutions can in some way still contribute the goal of greater access is still achieved.
Cooperation between libraries, archives, and museums will likely face many obstacles,
however, I believe that this cooperation will be instrumental to the development and
continuation of each institution. Technology today allows for greater access and it seems to me
that these institutions will have to adapt to survive. With budget cuts or a lack of funding in
general, many institutions will need to find innovative ways to continue their existence. The
overall purpose of our class is to merge three main professions that specialize in culture and
cultural heritage preservation. This could be seen as an early instructional form of integration.
2. "Records are inert until they are acted upon by the human mind. It can be argued that, like
George Berkeley's tree falling in the forest, records do not exist until they are used."4 And the
quote "objects function as a medium to communicate and transmit knowledge, and are valued
Ibid., 6.
Finch, Elsie F, American Archival Studies: Readings in Theory and Practice, ed.
Randall C. Jimerson, In the Eye of the Beholder: Archives Administration from the User's Point
of View (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2000), 426.
for the stories they can tell"5 have opposite meanings, regardless of which quote one agrees
Just prior to the first quote in Jimerson/Finch there is a line that states that records are
not artifactual, they are not objects with a value for simply being an object. Following the same
line of reasoning the it is assumed that Finch believes that records are solely paper-based
information--the entire paragraph seems to confirm this. If one was to prescribe to the same line
of thinking then the above quotes would be in opposition to each other with the first statement
being construed as correct, a record is nothing until it is used as a record. Of course, along this
same line the same person would not look at objects as records, thus the second quote would be
incorrect because if an object transmitted knowledge then it would be a record.
I strongly disagree with the above assessment. I do agree that the above quotes are
imparting differing opinions but that is where my agreement stops. First, addressing the first
quote stating that records are inert and that they do not exist until used. By definition a record is
"transitive verb 1: a (1): to set down in writing: furnish written evidence of 2: to give evidence
of 3: to cause (as sound, visual images, or data) to be registered on something (as a disc or
magnetic tape) in reproducible form; noun 1: the state or fact of being recorded 2: something
that records: as a: something that recalls or relates past events 3: a (1): a body of known or
recorded facts about something or someone especially with reference to a particular sphere of
activity that often forms a discernible pattern <a good academic record> <a liberal voting
Kreps, Christina, A Companion to Museum Studies, ed. Sharon Macdonald, NonWestern Models of Museums and Curation in Cross-Cultural Perspective (Chichester: WileyBlackwell, 2011), 463.
record> (2): a collection of related items of information (as in a database) treated as a unit "6
As can be seen from the above definition a record can be defined as the act of recording
information which by necessity would require a physical object. This does required human
action but it does not require the use of the record or information beyond creation. Thus, one
could have records that serve no discernable purpose but they are still records. Even if a record
was created and then never used it would still remain a record, therefore records exist with or
without use. As for inert, that really depends upon the authors definition, if the author used
inert as passive or indolent, ignoring the projection of human emotion upon a lifeless object,
then I would disagree with the statement. Regardless of how a human interprets and/or uses the
record/information the record would remain passive, it would take no action. Now if the author
means that records are motionless or lifeless, which is the probable interpretation, then it is just
a statement of fact. A piece of paper (per the author's definition of a record) is not alive and it
will not move without human interaction, direct or indirect.
Addressing the assumption that objects are not records, nowhere does the above
definition state that the record must be on paper, or that the record is not an object. In fact many
objects have writing, it was common for Greek artwork to be labeled and illuminated
manuscripts are valuable as objects/artworks and records, to name two examples. As a note, in
my opinion, paper is also an object and can be artifactual, though some may disagree. Aside
from the obvious writing upon an object, many objects can provide a plethora of information
through careful analysis. Ask a Geologist or Archaeologist what a geological or archaeological
record is. Each type by nature of the subject contains objects as a part of the record, often
Merriam-Webster, 2010, "Record," (accessed December 15, 2010).
objects will be the majority. Fossils, coins, ceramics, soil samples, etc. all of these contribute to
the record (which ever type it is). Thus, objects can and are records that distinction is not the
sole purview of paper. Therefore I agree with the second quote that objects "communicate and
transmit knowledge."7
In conclusion, regardless of the interpretation these two quotes convey conflicting
information. It could be said that it is possible to agree with both quotes via a belief that records
have to be used to be records and objects do communicate information. However, I believe that
these are contradictory beliefs. As stated above, a record once created remains a record. A
record is anything that gives evidence of something or any collection of "related items of
information."8 Therefore by agreeing with that statement that objects "communicate and
transmit knowledge"9 one would have to agree that object are records and one does not need to
use the object. You can just look at it or it can be packed away in storage. Just like paper
records once created it remains the same; the record, either paper or any other object, does not
cease to exist or change its fundamental purpose simply because it is not being used. Either
one believes that records do not exist unless they are used and that objects are not records,
because like records they only have to be created, not used. Or one believes that records can be
any medium and that they exist, once created, regardless of use.
Kreps, Christina, A Companion to Museum Studies, ed. Sharon Macdonald, NonWestern Models of Museums and Curation in Cross-Cultural Perspective (Chichester: WileyBlackwell, 2011), 463.
Merriam-Webster, 2010, "Record," (accessed December 15, 2010).
Kreps, Christina, A Companion to Museum Studies, ed. Sharon Macdonald, NonWestern Models of Museums and Curation in Cross-Cultural Perspective (Chichester: WileyBlackwell, 2011), 463.
Finch, Elsie F. American Archival Studies: Readings in Theory and Practice. Edited by Randall
C. Jimerson. In the Eye of the Beholder: Archives Administration from the User's Point
of View. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2000.
Kreps, Christina. A Companion to Museum Studies. Edited by Sharon Macdonald. Non-Western
Models of Museums and Curation in Cross-Cultural Perspective. Chichester: WileyBlackwell, 2011.
Merriam-Webster. "Record." 2010.
(accessed December 15, 2010).
OCLC. "Library, Archive and Museum Collaboration." August 11, 2009. (accessed December 13,
Zorich, Diane M., Gunter Waibel, & Ricky Erway. Beyond the Silos of the LAMs:
Collaboration Among Libraries, Archives and Museums. Dublin: OCLC Online
Computer Library Center, Inc. OCLC Research. PDF.