Information Studies



Questions of trust? Archives, records and identities"

Keynote speakers' abstracts:

Professor Heather MacNeil, University of Toronto, 'Trust and professional identity: narratives, counter-narratives, and lingering ambiguities'

In the field of archives, professional identity is constructed around the twin notions of archivists as trusted custodians and archival institutions as trusted repositories. In the opening address the speaker will examine the historical links between professional identity and trust and how those links are being attenuated and, perhaps, reconfigured in the digital world. She will look particularly at the ways in which new information and communication technologies and shifting currents of thinking inside and outside the field of archives are transforming our understanding of who we are and what we do both as educators and practitioners.

Professor Anne J. Gilliland, University of California, Los Angeles, 'Trust, Neutrality and the Obligation of Archival Education in a Global, Digital Society'

In a globalized world of increasingly diverse, mobile and digitally-facilitated communities and
activities, there is a fundamental tension between the archival mindset and practices associated with the constructs of trust and neutrality that has rendered the profession ill-equipped to deal with this changing world. When faced with the digital, even more than with the physical, we have placed considerable weight on assuring and preserving the trustworthiness of materials that will
come under our care. Archival codes of ethics around the globe exhort us to neutrality so that records creators and posterity trust us to be impartial in our stewardship and curatorship. But can that neutrality ever support the interests of all parties equally? Are we as concerned about being trusted by those who create records outside the usual institutional parameters, who are the subjects of the records, who are absent from the records, or who would use the record against the grain, as we are about maintaining the trust of more mainstream records creators and supporting the interests of the preserving institutions? Archival educators and education programmes that are preparing new generations to enter the archival field have an obligation to address such constructs and tension critically and practically in light of the new realities of this world. This paper will discuss ways in which archival education, itself subject to various constraints, might address such concerns.

Professor Michael Moss, University of Glasgow, Is it a question of trust?'

This key note address will explore the relationship of concepts of trust in information to authenticity, truth, trustworthiness, governance, and the rule of law. These concepts are regularly used to support the role of archivists and records managers, particularly when they think themselves beleaguered and unappreciated. They are all slippery terms that are by their very nature diachronic that has been thrown into sharp relief by the encroaching digital environment and the recent financial meltdown. This address will challenge some of the pre-conceptions of the information community and explore ways in which it needs to adjust to meet the expectations of society and legislators in the face of big reductions in public expenditure.