2.2.1. Archival Processing and Preservation

Many professional activities of archivists are covered in documents related to the codes of ethics of organizations of archivists and librarians. Good examples are the codes of ethics of the Society of American Archivists1 and the International Council on Archives2.

Certainly important to IASA is an ethical approach to appraising sound and audiovisual materials. The ICOM code of ethics3 is relevant here, especially sections on the care of collections, 2.18-2.26 (regarding the policies to ensure the continuity and security of collections and associated data, documentation, conservation, and professional responsibility).

In accordance with these ethical principles, sound and audiovisual recordings and associated materials (including original carriers) shall be treated with appropriate respect and mishandling by unskilled operators should be avoided. They need to be conserved according the latest technology to minimise deterioration. Their original content and physical representation shall be safeguarded from being modified, truncated, extended, falsified or censored in any way.

Archivists’ obligations also include the permanent care of accompanying materials (photographs, notes, etc.) and the handling of the description of the contents of the recordings (for metadata, catalogues and discography, and other publications).

Collection activities include more than just acquisition. All archives also dispose of recordings removed from the collections. While deaccessioning is done for a variety of reasons, as described in the ICOM document noted above (paragraphs 2.12-2.17), archivists need to observe paragraph 2.13:

The removal of an object or specimen from a museum collection must only be undertaken with a full understanding of the significance of the item, its character (whether renewable or non-renewable), legal standing, and any loss of public trust that might result from such action.

This is important, for example, in cases where a recordist has promised a performer that recordings would be preserved in an archive, or when an archive has promised a depositor that his or her collection would remain intact.

1. see http://www.archivists.org/governance/handbook/app_ethics.asp
2. see http://www.ica.org/sites/default/files/Ethics-EN.pdf
3. see http://icom.museum/the-vision/code-of-ethics/2-museums-that-maintain-col...