Introduction to Archives

(also archive), n. ~ 1. Materials created or received by a person, family, or organization, public or private, in the conduct of their affairs and preserved because of the enduring value contained in the information they contain or as evidence of the functions and responsibilities of their creator, especially those materials maintained using the principles of provenance, original order, and collective control; permanent records. In the vernacular, 'archives' is often used to refer to any collection of documents that are old or of historical interest, regardless of how they are organized; in this sense, the term is synonymous with permanent records. Taken from the

This video series examines some of the stories behind Tate's archives of British art, exploring questions and processes that are emerging from their collection, conservation and use.

What is an Archivist looks at the various tasks that archivists perform, from both the good and bad perspective.

The Archives Association of British Columbia (AABC) and the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre are pleased to present the webcast roundtable "Talking with First Nations Archives. "

Articles on What Defines an Archives?

Article | What are Archives? by Arthur Leavitt

Article | The Spirit of Total Archives: Seeking a Sustainable Archival System by Laura Millar

Guide | Aboriginal Archives Guide by ACA

Professional Ethics and knowledge of an archivist

Article | The Development of Ethics in Archival Practice by David E. Horn

Declaration | United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Protocols | Protocols for Native American Archival Materials By First Archivist Circle

Code of Ethics | ICA Archivist Code of Ethics

Code of Ethics | ACA Archivist Code of Ethics

Act | Yukon Archives Act

Blog | What do Archivists do All Day? by PAMA

Blog | so, what exactly does an archivist do? by anthroarchivist

Frank Upwards Lifecycle Continuum Model

Understanding Professional Jargon & More

Glossary | The ASA Archives Terminology

Glossary | A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology by SAA [PDF]

Article | Coming Full Circle? by Rita-Sophia Mogyorosi

Article | Report and Recommendations of the Consultation on Aboriginal Resources and Services by LAC

Web | Aboriginal documentary heritage by LAC

Article | Maintaining the Reliability of Aboriginal Oral Records and Their Material Manifestations: Implications for Archival Practice by Shauna McRanor

Book | Aboriginal History Volume 13

Article | Opening Archives: Respectful Repatriation by Kimberly Christen

Article | Indigenous Knowledge and Archives by Kirsten Thorpe

Article | Visions and Metaphors for First Nations Information Management by Kim Lawson

Universal Declaration on Archives by UNESCO & ICA


Establishing & Maintining an Archives


Establishing Archives: Facilities and Features


Book | Archival and Special Collections Facilities: Guidelines for Archivists, Librarians, Architects, and Engineers by Michele F Pacifico

Article | Using Shipping Containers for Record Storage by PARBICA

Managing Archives & archival systems

Article | Managing Archives: A Procedures Manual by ICA & IRMT

Manual | A Manual for Small Archives by AABC

Policy | Dorothy Hoover Library Archives Policy

Policy | Nova Scotia Archives Acquisition Policy

Policy | The Royal BC Museum Collection Policy

Policy | Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Collection Policy

Act | Nacho Nyak Dun Heritage Act

Building a Community-Based Archives

Article | Independent Community Archives and Community-Generated Content ‘Writing, Saving and Sharing our Histories’ by Andrew Flinn

Article | Documenting local history: case study in digital storytelling by Suzanna Conrad

Article | Community-Centered Collecting: Finding Out What Communities Want from Community Archives by Michelle Caswell

Article | When Reconciliation Meets Conflict: Exploring Indigenous Archives by Samuel Mickelson



Acquisition, Appraisal & Accession

Now that you have established your archives' goals and purpose, long-term plans and mandate, and you have determined your available space and resources, you are ready to start bringing material into your archives. Where are you going to find archival materials? How will you determine their value and suitability for your archives? And how will you bring them under your physical and legal control? Taken from "The Manual for Small Archives" by AABC

Lecture on the archival processes of acquiring and accessioning collections for HIS 3362, Archival Methods, Troy University, by Dr. Marty Olliff. Addresses collection development, collecting policies, gift agreements, and accession logs.

Acquisition of Archival Materials

Article | Records Acquisition Strategy and its Theoretical Foundation: The Case for a Concept of Archival Hermeneutics by Richard Brown

Article | Who Controls the Past by Helen Willa Samuels

Guide | Guidelines for Developing an Acquisitions Policy by AABC

Guide | A Guide to Deed of Gift by SAA

Guide | A Guide to a Donor Agreement by CCA

Sample | Acquisition Policy by the Nova Scotia Archives & Records Management

Sample | Acquisition Mandate by Simon Fraser University Archives

Appraising Archival Materials

Article | What is Appraisal by the National Archives

Slides | APPRAISAL: Theory and Methods by Terry Eastwood

Article | New Appraisal Techniques: The Effect of Theory on Practice by Margaret Hedstrom

Article | The Concept of Appraisal and Archival Theory by Luciana Duranti

Article | "Many are called, but few are chosen'? Appraisal Guidelines for Sampling and Selecting Case Files by Terry Cook

Article | How Goes it with Appraisal? by Terry Eastwood

Guide | Guidelines on Appraisal by ICA

Guide | Preparing for Monetary Appraisal by ACA

Sample | Appraisal Scorecard

Accessioning Archival Materials

Web | Loan Agreements and Accession Registrar by the National Archives

Sample | Accession Forms by Brett Carnell

Sample | Accession Registrar Entries by AABC

Web | Ontario Archival Accessions Register (OAAR) by AAO

Sample | Archival Accession Policy by the Nova Scotia Archives & Records Management

Arrangement & Description

Processing of archival material involves first arranging then describing it.

Arrangement involves analysing the records to see who or what created them, how and why they were created, what functions and activities they document, when they were created and what their physical nature is. While the records themselves provide the most concrete source for this information published histories and the recollections of the records creators themselves will also provide valuable insight to this procedure.

Description is the process of explaining that arrangement so that people - researchers, administrators, whomever - who want to use the records know where to look to find the answers to their questions. Arrangement, therefore, is the process of studying the records to discover how they relate to the entities that created them. Description is the way of sharing that knowledge with everyone else.  

Taken from ""

Arranging Archival records

Web | Archives and Records Management Resources by Oliver W. Holmes (1964)

Web | Archives - What they are and how to use them by Goucher College Library

Article | Putting the Parts of the Whole Together: Systematic Arrangement of Archives by Terry Eastwood

Article | Thinking Outside of the Box by Dan Davies

Article | Archivalterity: Rethinking Original Order Heather MacNeil 

Slides | Archival Arrangement & Description by Becky Simmons

Newsletter | "With Respect to Original Order": Changing Values in Archival Arrangement by Robert Edwards featured in the AABC 2001 Winter Newsletter

Article | Processing for Access Uli Haller

Describing archival records

Online Handbook | Standards for Archival Description: A Handbook by SAA

Guide | Basics of RAD by SCAA

Blog | How Do Archivists Describe Collections? (or, How to Read a Finding Aid) by PAMA

Article | The Development of Descriptive Standards in Canada: A Progress Report by Kent M. Haworth

Article | Origin and Development of the Concept of Archival Description by Luciana Duranti

Article | Grounding Archival Description in the Functional Requirements for Evidence by David Bearman & Wendy Duff

Article | The Reclamation of Archival Description: The Canadian Perspective by Wendy Duff & Kent M. Haworth

Article | Managing the Present: Metadata as Archival Description by David A. Wallace

Article | Metadata Strategies and Archival Description: Comparing Apples to Oranges by Heather MacNeil

What information needs to be recorded in order to ensure that the longevity of a digital record? Let's talk about Rules for Archival Description and PREMIS.

How do you manage photographs when you cannot determine who owned them or who holds copyright over them or you don't know anything about the content of the photograph itself.

RAD & Examples of Archival Finding Aids

  1. The Complete Rules for Archival Description
  2. RAD Basics by Jeff O'Brien

Guide | Archival Processing Physical Arrangement: A guide to processing archival collections by George A. Smathers Library

Manual | Arrangement & Description Manual for Processing Archival Collections by Alaska State Historical Advisory Board

Sample | Mark Winston Fonds by SFU Archives on AToM

Sample | Creating Finding Aids by Benson Ford Research Center

Sample | Oral History Processing Manual by Brooklyn Historical Society

Template | Reference Publication Identification Worksheet Template for Data Entry

Template | Reference Inventory Identification Worksheet Template for Data Entry

Preservation, Conservation & Risk Management

Preservation n. ~ 1. The professional discipline of protecting materials by minimizing chemical and physical deterioration and damage to minimize the loss of information and to extend the life of cultural property. - 2. The act of keeping from harm, injury, decay, or destruction, especially through noninvasive treatment. - 3. Law · The obligation to protect records and other materials potentially relevant to litigation and subject to discovery. Note: Preservation is sometimes distinguished from conservation, the latter describing treatments to repair damage. However, preservation activities are often considered a sub-discipline within the profession of conservation.

Conservation counters existing damage, as distinguished from preservation, which attempts to prevent damage. Conservation does not always eliminate evidence of damage; restoration includes techniques to return materials to their original appearances (which may include fabrication of missing pieces). - However, conservation is often used to include preservation activities.

Risk Management n. ~ The systematic control of losses or damages, including the analysis of threats, implementation of measures to minimize such risks, and implementing recovery programs.

PRESERVATION & Conservation

Article | The education of staff and users for the proper handling and care of archival materials: a RAMP study with guidelines By Helen Ford UNESCO

Book | Basic Conservation of Archival Materials : Revised Edition, 2003 Chapter 6 – Collections by CCA

Book | Document Repair Hardcover – May 1971 by D.B. Wardle on

Article | RLG Guidelines for Microfilming to Support Digitization by RLG

Article | Shelving for Archival Storage – Key Issues by ICA Committee on Archival Buildings in Temperate Climates (ICA/CBTE)

Article | Moments of Risk: Identifying Threats to Electronic Records David Bearman

Guide | Syracuse University Library Environmental Guidelines by Donia Conn


Article | Guidelines for the Long Term Preservation of CDs and DVDs by CCI

Article | Storing Archival Paper-Based Materials by National Parks Services

Guide | Native Languages Archives Repository Project Reference Guide

Article | Capturing Analog Sound for Digital Preservation by Library of Congress

Book | Sound Directions Best Practices For Audio Preservation By Mike Casey

Manual | Audiovisual archives: A practical reader by UNESCO

Book | Guidelines on the Production and Preservation of Digital Audio Objects (web edition) by IASA

Archival Risk Management

Manual | Risk Assessment Handbook by The National Archives

Article | Risk Management in Libraries, Archives and Museums by Alpaslan Hamdi

Web | Managing Information Risks by UN

Manual | Digital Preservation Handbook by DPC

Article | Moving library and archive collections by British Library

Web | Preservation Management by Smithsonian Institution Archives

Article | Building an Emergency Plan by Getty Conservation Institute

The video takes viewers inside the preservation lab at the National Archives where specialists construct custom boxes for items as varied as a Cold War-era pistol and a 1761 Indian treaty. The boxes can be simple affairs, built to house a book -- or extremely complex, holding multiple, related items in multi-chambered constructions.

Preservation, Conservation & risk management resources

Web | Resources for Conservation Professionals by Conservation OnLine (CoOL) 

Web | Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) Notes by Government of Canada

Guide | The Preservation Checklist by Paper and Book Repair

Web | identifying errors and anomalies in analog and digital video by AVAA

Article | Videotape Identification and Assessment Guide by Texas Commission on the Arts

Manual | HANDBOOK FOR DIGITAL PROJECTS: A Management Tool for Preservation and Access by Maxine K. Sitts

Web | FIRST AID FOR FIRE DAMAGE by NFSA Video Tapes PDF / Audio Tapes PDF

Blog | Caring for Your Collection by PAMA

ToolACTS FACTS Newsletter Archives promotes the advancement of expert knowledge of materials and technologies, and mastery of conservation and preservation by ACTS FACTS

Tool |  the Association of North American Graduate Programs in Conservation, works together to strengthen and advance graduate-level education and training in art and heritage conservation.This site contains the presentations and posters of students at the ANAGPIC conference since 2005 by ANAGPIC

Tool | While not peer-reviewed, these post-prints present information about current topics in conservation as well as insight into conservation treatments by AIC Photographic Materials Group (PMG)


Digitization & Oral History

  • Book | Why Digitize? by Abby Smith
  • Blog | Why don’t you digitize everything? by PAMA
  • Article | Digitization in an Archival Environment by Sally McKay
  • Article | Archival Digitization and the Struggle to Create Useful Digital Reproductions By Krista McCracken
  • Article | Digitising and handling Indigenous cultural resources in libraries, archives and museums by Alex Byrne
  • Directory | A Global Directory of Services and Suppliers of Audiovisual Media by AMIA

->Collection ID Guide by PSAP<-

Digitization of Archival Material Guides

Toolkit | Minimum Viable Workstation by XFR Collective

Toolkit | Audio/Video Resources by XFR Collective

Guide | Audio Cassette Digitization Workstation by Sustainable Heritage Network

Guide | Minimum Digitization Capture Recommendations by ALCTS

Guide | Digitization Best Practice by York University

Guide | A Guide for Managers Planning and Implementing Digitization Projects by Government of Canada

Guide | Guidelines on the Production and Preservation of Digital Audio Objects (web edition) by IASA

Guide | What to do Before you Digitize by Iron Mountain

Guide | Digitization and Archives by CCA

Guide | Guidelines for Digitizing Archival Materials for Electronic Access: Decision Chart by NARA

Guide | Digitizing Video for Long-Term Preservation: An RFP Guide and Template by Barbara Goldsmith

Guide | Guidelines for Digitization by UMass Amherst Libraries

Guide | Guidelines for the Preservation of Video Recordings Part B. Video Signal, Preservation Concepts, and Target Formats by IASA

Guide | Guidelines for the Preservation of Video Recordings Part C. Introduction by IASA

Toolkit | Bibliography for Digitization Projects by CCA

Storing & Maintaining digitized materials

Article | Preserving Moving Pictures and Sound By the DPC Richard Wright

Article | Long-Term Storage of Videotape by Jim Wheeler

Article | Causes and Measurement of Videotape Decay Richard Keatinge

Blog | CDs Are Not Forever: The Truth About CD/DVD Longevity, “Mold” & “Rot” by Tina Sieber 

Guide | Metadata Standards and Guidelines Relevant to Digital Audio by PARS Task Force

Web | Hard Drive Failure Rates (which one to buy?) by Andy Klein on Black Blaze

A look inside the digitization labs at the National Archives, where a dedicated team of technicians uses state-of-the-art technology to preserve the Archives' remarkable holdings. Once digitized, the records are available to the public online. Motion pictures, still photographs, paper documents, audio-video recordings are some of the records shown being digitized in the labs of the National Archives in this video.

Stacey Zembrzycki explains the processes of doing oral history.

Saving Oral history Traditions in the Archives

Handbook | Oral History Handbook by Beth M Robertson

Web | Iportal search by University of Saskatchewan

Blog | 11 Things you should know about Aboriginal Oral Traditions by ICTINC

Web | Oral Traditions by Indigenous Foundation UBC

Guide | Guide to Oral History Recording by Austrailian War Memorial

Guide | Australia Talking History: Oral History Guidelines by Sharon Veale and Kathleen Schilling

Book | Getting Started in Oral Traditions Research by P. Polar [Excerpt]

Web | Ethics by Concordia University Centre for Oral History & Digital Storytelling

Web | Step-by-Step Guide to Oral History by Judith Moyer 

Article | Legalizing Oral History: Proving Aboriginal Claims in Canadian Courts by Kent McNeil

Article | Maintaining the Reliability of Aboriginal Oral Records and Their Material Manifestations: Implications for Archival Practice by Shauna McRanor

Digital / Electronic Records

 n. ~ Data or information that has been captured and fixed for storage and manipulation in an automated system and that requires the use of the system to render it intelligible by a person. Notes: 'Electronic records' can encompass both analog and digital information formats, although the term principally connotes information stored in digital computer systems. 'Electronic records' most often refers to records created in electronic format (born digital) but is sometimes used to describe scans of records in other formats (reborn digital or born analog). 

(InterPARES Authenticity, p. 7) Strictly speaking, it is not possible to preserve an electronic record. It is always necessary to retrieve from storage the binary digits that make up the record and process them through some software for delivery or presentation. Taken From

Digital Curation & Preservation

Glossary | Digital Curation Glossary by DCC

Article | Digital curation by Elizabeth Yakel

Article | Digital Curation: The Emergence of a New Discipline by Sarah Higgins

Article | Ensuring the Longevity of Digital Information by Jeff Rothenberg

Article | Intellectual Preservation: Electronic Preservation of the Third Kind By Peter S. Graham

Article | What to Preserve?: Significant Properties of Digital Objects by Helen Hockx-Yu & Gareth Knight

Article | New Partnerships for Old Sibling Rivals: The Development of Integrated Access Systems for the Holdings of Archives, Libraries, and Museums by Katherine Timms

Article | A Comparison Between Migration and Emulation in Terms of Costs by Erik Oltmans & Nanda Kol

Article | Beyond the Magic to the Mechanism: Computers, Materiality, and What It Means for Records to Be “Born Digital” by Ciaran B. Trace

Slides | Born Digital Photographs: Acquisition and Preservation Strategies by AABC Conference 2006

Guide | Managing Electronic Records from an Archival Perspective by ICA

Guide | Digital Preservation Formats by Smithsonian Institution Archives

Article | Risk Management of Digital Information: A File Format Investigation by Gregory W. Lawrence, William R. Kehoe, Oya Y. Rieger, William H. Walters & Anne R. Kenney

Manual | Digital Preservation Handbook by DPC

Manual | Handbook For Digital Projects: A Management Tool for Preservation and Access by Maxine K. Sitts NEDCC

Blog | Digital Preservation Matters: This blog contains information related to digital preservation, long term access, digital archiving, digital curation, institutional repositories, and digital or electronic records management. 

Blog | MetaArchive Blog

Blog | AMIA @ UofT blog

Blog | Jaime Mears Archive Blog (Tag: Digitization)

Podcasts / iTunes | Digital Preservation Webcasts By Library of Congress

Webcast | Digital Preservation Webcast Recordings by UNESCO

Webinars | Digital Preservation Webinars by OPF

Sample | Digital Preservation at SFU

Digital Curation Tools

  • Tool | Digital Preservation Management Tutorial Modules:  The tutorial will introduce you to the basic tenets of digital preservation. It is particularly geared toward librarians, archivists, curators, managers, and technical specialists.
  • Tool | Cost of Inaction Calculator by AVPreserve
  • Tool | Sharing Storage Solutions: This website provides information and tools so that institutions of all types, sizes and resource levels can learn how to create safe and appropriate storage solutions. 
  • Tool | Video Preservation: The purpose of this site is to encourage the preservation of historic video using the mature technology of digital capture.
  • Tool | Comparing Digital Library Systems by Beanworks
  • Tool Checklist for Cloud Service Contracts Intended Audience: Records Managers and Archivists by InterPARES Trust Project
  • ToolDigital Preservation Business Case Toolkit by DPC
  • ToolCommunity Owned digital Preservation Tool Registry (COPTR): COPTR is collating the knowledge of the digital preservation community on preservation tools in one place.
  • Tool Let's Solve the File Format Problem!: this Wiki will provide a central source for information on all manner of file formats
  • Tool | Digital Formats by Library of Congress
  • Tool | DRAMBORA (Digital Repository Audit Method Based On Risk Assessment) originated as a paper-based methodology for helping repository managers to develop a documented understanding of the risks they face, expressed in terms of probability and potential impact.
  • ToolThe File Information Tool Set (FITS) identifies, validates and extracts technical metadata for a wide range of file formats
  • ToolThe Apache Tika™ toolkit detects and extracts metadata and text from over a thousand different file types (such as PPT, XLS, and PDF)
  • ToolJHOVE is a file format identification, validation and characterisation tool.
  • Tool | Features of BitCurator include: Pre-imaging data triage, Forensic disk imaging, File system analysis and reporting, Identification of private and individually identifying information, and Export of technical and other metadata
  • Tool | IrfanView is a fast, compact and innovative FREEWARE (for non-commercial use) graphic viewer for Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 10. 
  • Tool MediaInfo is a convenient unified display of the most relevant technical and tag data for video and audio files.
  • Tool | VirtualBox is a powerful x86 and AMD64/Intel64 virtualization product for enterprise as well as home use. 
  • Tool | PDFTRON powerful pdf library [About]
  • Tool | VeraPDF is a purpose-built, open source, file-format validator covering all PDF/A parts and conformance levels. It's designed to meet the needs of digital preservationists
  • Tool | HxD is a carefully designed and fast hex editor which, additionally to raw disk editing and modifying of main memory (RAM), handles files of any size.
  • Tool Archive-It is a subscription web archiving service from the Internet Archive that helps organizations to harvest, build, and preserve collections of digital content.
  • Tool | WayBack Machine: a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form.
  • Tool Webrecorder is a web archiving service anyone can use for free to save web pages. Making a capture is as easy as browsing a page like you normally would. It automatically archives the page, along with any additional content triggered by interactions.
  • Web | Make Use Of: Technology, Simplified Webpage
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Archiving in the Digital Age

Article | Local archives and community collecting in the digital age by Lyndon Ormond-Parker & Robyn Sloggett

Article | Where’s the Archivist in Digital Curation? Exploring the Possibilities through a Matrix of Knowledge and Skills by Christopher Lee & Helen Tibbo

Article | Staffing for Effective Digital Preservation By NDSA

Article | Metadata Requirements for Evidence by David Bearman

Article | Strategies for Managing Electronic Records: A New Archival Paradigm? An Affirmation of Our Archival Traditions? By Philip C. Bantin

Article | The Protection of the Integrity of Electronic Records: An Overview of the UBC-MAS Research Project by Luciana Duranti and Heather MacNeil

Article | Descriptive Practices for Electronic Records: Deciding What is Essential and Imagining What is Possible by Margaret Hedstrom

Article | The Role of Standards in the Archival Management of Electronic Records by Victoria Irons Walch

Article | Metadata and the Management of Current Records in Digital Form by Hans Hofman

Article | Reference Model For an Open Archival Information System (OAIS) by CCSDS

Article | Meeting the challenges of digital preservation: The OAIS reference model by Brian Lavoie

Web | OAIS Reference Model by OAIS

For more information on Electronic Records Management prior to Archival processes, please see the Records Information Management section of our Resources Page.

Awareness, Outreach & Fund-raising


Yukon Heritage Training Fund

The Yukon Council of Archives encourages Individual, General, and Institutional members interested in professional development and training courses, to apply for assistance through the Yukon Heritage Training Fund. If you wish to apply for financial assistance, please consult the Guidelines. They provides information on how money is awarded, who is eligible, how to apply and the responsibilities of the applicant if the application is successful. Otherwise, please take a look at external funding & advocacy resources listed below.

Awareness & Outreach 

Webcast | UBC Webcast Resource

Webinar | National Archives Media Player

Podcast | LAC Podcast on Archives

Education | AABC Distance Education Training Courses

Education | SAA database on Archival education, training courses and degrees

Resource | Archives Canada Resource Publication Listing

Resource | AABC Archival Resource List

Blog | ArchivesBlog: A Syndicated Collection of Blogs by and for Archivists

Resource | Search the Yukon Archival Union List (YAUL) consists of descriptions of archival material held at publicly-accessible archival repositories in the Yukon Territory. The YAUL has been created by the Yukon Council of Archives with the assistance of the Archives Association of British Columbia. 

Resource | ArchivesCanada The archival descriptions of participating Canadian archives searchable via a combined database

Archives Social Media Outreach Examples:

Sample | National Archives Social Media Policies

Sample | Reference and Access Use Service Examples by SAA

Sample | Vignelli Center Instagram Feed