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Subject:

Re: Collections management

From:

Nick Boldrini <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

British archaeology discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 5 Jul 2012 12:43:10 +0000

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Hi William 
 
try http://www.britarch.ac.uk/archives/Archives_Best_Practice.pdf and the bibliography of this for information 
 
best wishes 
 
Nick Boldrini 
 
Historic Environment Record Officer 
Archaeology Section 
Durham County Council 
Tel: 03000 267008 
[log in to unmask] 
-----Original Message----- 
From: British archaeology discussion list [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of William Moss 
Sent: 05 July 2012 13:34 
To: [log in to unmask] 
Subject: Re: [BRITARCH] Collections management 
 
Thanks Malcolm. I agree particularly with this statement: "I find that a development of the IT culture is putting the integrity of collections under threat. The tendency to assume that some computer index will answer the questions has overwhelmed the traditional 'look-and-see'  Technique". This may also cause problems when no functional computer inventory has been done for the different parts of collections farmed out amongst different institutions.  There is a strong presumption that computer tools can solve all problems, even if the tools aren't yet developed or operational. A leap of faith! 
 
 
William Moss MA, FSA, RPA 
Archéologue principal 
Design, Architecture et Patrimoine  |  Aménagement du territoire  |  Ville de Québec  |  295, boulevard Charest Est  |  Québec  (Québec)  G1K 3G8  |  Téléphone : 418.641.6411, poste 2149  |  Télécopie : 418.641.6455  | 
[log in to unmask]  |  www.ville.quebec.qc.ca  |  www.ovpm.org/fr/canada/quebec 
 
 
-----Message d'origine----- 
De : British archaeology discussion list [mailto:[log in to unmask]] De la part de Malcolm J Watkins 
Envoyé : 5 juillet 2012 03:26 
À : [log in to unmask] 
Objet : Re: [BRITARCH] Collections management 
 
Split collections from a specific project are probably not a good idea. The ability to study the entire resource is undermined by separation, but of course this is increasingly happening as institutions 'share' material. We had a planning brief at Gloucester which required the project archive of finds and data to be deposited with a single accredited museum, which should be the City Museum. I doubt if it is still in use. 
On the whole naivety or straightforward indifference seems to rule. In these days of transfer of sites from public to private ownership the buried heritage also tends to go. In one case we had built into the sale of a site the requirement that portable antiquities remained in the ownership of the Council. During one of the excavations on that site subsequently arguably one of the most important 'treasures' of the national heritage came to light. The museum now has it. 
I find that a development of the IT culture is putting the integrity of collections under threat. The tendency to assume that some computer index will answer the questions has overwhelmed the traditional 'look-and-see' 
technique. So if your Mongolian nose flute fipple is catalogued as a mongoose metacarpal, the chances of anyone seeing it are minimal. That alone would put me off any suggestion that splitting collections is acceptable because of computerised indexes. I strongly believe in the electronic cataloguing and indexing of collections especially when decent 
(enlarge-able) images are provided, but they are not, and never will be, a complete substitute for the real thing. 
So it is good practice to maintain an archive in one location, albeit in separate rooms or even buildings. 
That, of course, has its own difficulties. I used to reckon that to examine querns as a subject at Gloucester one would have needed to visit three different building and several different locations in each. 
But no system is completely perfect. 
I am wondering if any of the plethora of reports from the 70s and 80s on the future of archaeology may have required maintaining the archive in one location. My memory fails me on thinking of even one title or set of authors though. 
You might try the Archaeological Archives Forum http://www.britarch.ac.uk/archives/ 
Malcolm 
 
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