Information, Data and Archive Profession: A Portrait of Opportunities and Challenges

We celebrate International Archives Week with enthusiasm and solidarity around the world. This is an opportunity to briefly review the main issues, opportunities and challenges of archival professions.

What are the opportunities?

At least three avenues could contribute to the development of our archival professions: interdisciplinarity, standardization and scientific research!

Interdisciplinarity: the computer scientist is no longer the only other professional to integrate into our documentary projects and archival functions; quality experts, process specialists, lawyers, risk managers, and many other actors in the management of information resources join him. Archivistics is now positioning itself in the governance of organizational information resources, which gives greater visibility to the role of archivists and allows them to communicate better with information professionals, particularly with the general governance of its organization.

Standardization only improves, formalizes and standardizes practice but also shares international expertise on a given aspect with the archival community. Initiatives in this regard are multiplying as illustrated by ISO and ICA standards.

Finally, scientific research makes it possible to introduce innovative approaches to practical problems. In addition to research on archival concepts, principles and methods, we note the rise of research on the automation of certain functions of contemporary archival science (Computational archival science, CAS). In this context, initiatives have explored the feasibility of automating the evaluation of massive data or the assisted classification of structured and/or unstructured data.

Which challenges?

Data, information and archive managers (DIAM) are increasingly faced with major challenges, such as digital transformations including archival media, their formats and their production, use and sustainability environment.

Another challenge that is less discussed is the training with its different academic and/or professional paths, which offers DIAM the opportunity to improve their skills – by updating technical knowledge and strengthening managerial and communicative skills – and to specialize in an aspect of the profession that would affect a function (appraisal, classification, preservation, etc.), a type of data (medical data, banking data, research data, etc.) and/or a type of support/format of these (digital/analogue; textual/non-textual; etc.). The challenges of digital technology and training require the mobilization of significant human and financial resources that are binding barriers to the professional development of DIAM. In this context, several ICA entities, programmes, structures and experts met to launch initiatives in this direction. The training activities carried out in Yaounde in November 2018 and planned in Dakar in October 2019 are a good illustration of this.

By Prof. Basma Makhlouf Shabou, Ph.D. Coordinatrice du domaine archivistque

Filière Information documentaire. Haute école de gestion de Genève ▪ HESSO