Book proposal: Born Digital Archiving in the Nordic Countries
(to be published in 2022/23)
This book proposal is a product of the research network ‘Digitization and the Future of Archives’ (funded by the Independent Research Fund, Denmark (IRFD)). The network brings together researchers and professional archivists primarily from the Nordic countries (Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland), but also from Britain, Canada and Australia.
Since the 1970s the Nordic countries have systematically and consistently pursued digitization in the public sector, including in public archives. Nordic digital archiving relies on standards, legislation and regulation to ensure adequate and preservable digital records are created, kept and transferred into archives.
Despite its longevity, Nordic digital archiving is not well described in the archival literature. Nordic approaches to regulating, funding and administering digital archives have proven as resilient as Nordic solutions to technical challenges including format management, metadata flow, and user access. Nonetheless, the Nordic countries find themselves at an inflection point. Established traditions must rapidly evolve in the face of new record forms, ubiquitous computing and sustained, exponential growth in data creation. Discussions within our research network demonstrate a profound interest outside the Nordic countries for information about the Nordic model, and have reinforced the need for Nordic archivists to be part of international dialogue around digital archiving challenges and solutions, as Nordic approaches shift and evolve.
The aim of this publication is to provide a foundation for continuing dialogue between Nordic archival traditions and international archival theory and practice, particularly in Australia, Canada, Great Britain and the United States.
Background & motivation
Challenges and opportunities in digital archiving are to a great degree the same all over the world. Archival practices, however, are firmly rooted in national traditions and settings, with distinct standards, vocabularies, definitions, rules and regulations. We have an opportunity to learn from each other, but first we must understand our distinct traditions and practices.
The Nordic countries have led the Anglophone world in terms of digitization and the reliable and routine capture, preservation and access of digital records, as evidence and heritage; however the Anglophone world has a much longer tradition, and more developed literature, in archival theory. While Anglophone countries are more liberal (or neo-liberal), Nordic countries have a tradition of pragmatism supported by strong regulation by the state. Nordic countries pioneered digital administration in the public sector, starting in the 1970s, including strategies and practices to preserve born digital materials in public archival institutions. While the focus in Nordic countries has been on the needs of public sector administrations, the Anglophone tradition has focused on users and developed critical perspectives on appraisal and the role of the archivist in society.
Devon Mordell recently proposed that the liberatory potential of archiving, as articulated by Terry Cook and others, might be brought fully into the digital age by viewing archival records as ‘big data’.(1) Mordell suggests ever-growing quantities of data and increasing societal dependence on digital technologies are opportunities to deploy and further develop critical archival theory. We offer a Nordic perspective on questions raised by Mordell, while taking a critical look at Nordic traditions through the lens of international archival theory.
Contributors, contributions the editorial process
All editors are members of the research network; themes of the book emerged from discussions in the network, and many of the authors of individual chapters are network members. To ensure balance and diversity of perspectives, we also issued an open call for contributions.
The book will be divided into sections that include two types of contributions: long pieces (L), in the form of a traditional research article (about 8000 words), and short pieces (S) of a more descriptive nature (2000 – 5000 words) where experts in a certain field will describe specific solutions or approaches with due attention to technical details. Through an iterative process of writing, editing, and group discussion, we aim at a certain homogeneity in the various sections, despite differences in subject matter, practical or theoretical approaches, and length. Throughout we aim at a balance between articulating specific aspects of the Nordic model in detail while identifying areas in which the model must change, and imaginatively exploring new directions.
An editorial board will supplement the main editors to expedite the editing process while bringing a necessary breadth of knowledge. Network meetings will be used to workshop the individual chapters and sections, thus bringing together scholars with an international profile and Nordic practitioners to comment on the contributions. Additionally, two author workshops will be organized (at least one meeting digitally). The editors and editorial board will ensure the quality and coherence of the individual submissions and the volume as a whole.
Editorial board and editors:
Greg Bak Greg, Bak@umanitoba.ca
Ann-Sofie Klareld, email@example.com
Anneli Sundqvist, firstname.lastname@example.org
Marianne Paasch, email@example.com (editor)
Marianne Rostgaard, firstname.lastname@example.org (editor)
Timeframe & Deadlines:
Open call deadline: September 10, 2020. Feedback from the editorial board October 1.
Deadline first draft versions: April 10, 2021
First author workshop: mid/end of May, 2021
Authors should expect a deadline for contributions, October 1, 2021
Second author workshop: November 2021
Final deadline for contributions: February 2022
We aim on publishing in late 2022/early 2023