What is an archives?
An archives works to acquire, preserve, and make available material collected under the terms of a particular mandate - whether that be to document a community or business, to reflect government policies, or many other reasons. Archival evidence is based around the concept of a record - which can be a paper document, a photograph, a map, a film, sound recordings, an electronic diskette, documentary art, or an architectural drawing. Collecting records makes an archives different from a library, which collects published items, like books; or a museum, which collects artefacts, like statues, medals or other objects.
There are many types of archives serving a variety of groups, including:
· Business/Corporate archives;
· Ethnic/Cultural archives;
· National, Provincial, Territorial and Municipal archives;
· Regional/Community archives;
· Religious archives;
· University/College archives.
These archives often contain different kinds of records, such as:
· Minutes, by-laws, and administrative records of businesses, governments, political groups, religious groups, ethnic groups and other community organizations;
· Diaries, correspondence, photographs, and audio-visual records of community members, such as politicians, musicians, community and/or religious leaders, photographers, artists, teachers and scientists;
· Records documenting a particular cause or function such as protection of the environment
· Posters and marketing material to help celebrate a special event or anniversary.
Archives ensure that the records of today are preserved for future generations. People can then use the records to study and understand the life, ideas and thoughts of their original creators, linking the past, present and future.
"Using Archives: A Practical Guide for Researchers," created by the Library and Archives Canada explains how to use archives: http://www.collectionscanada.ca/04/0416_e.html.
For more information, contact the Northern BC Archives at UNBC at http://nbca.library.unbc.ca/ or come and visit us on the 4th floor of the library.
Source: Public Awareness Committee Association of Canadian Archivists, "What is an Archives?", January 2005 http://archivists.ca/sites/default/files/Attachments/Outreach_attachments/Whats-an-Archives.PDF