Role of Archives in Education

Role of Archives in Education

  • Arya Vishwaroop
    Arya Vishwaroop

Introduction

The process of archiving can be described as the long-term storage of data in various forms so as to preserve it in the most pristine condition possible. The idea behind archiving is to make sure that there is no loss of information across a long period of time, and that the information present in the archive is immutable across this timeframe. This is to make sure that there is no unnecessary alteration made that can distort the original intent behind archiving that material.

Archives are usually heavily restricted places often having high security because their importance is distributed across fields, works, and institutions. There are several institutions and fields of work that directly benefit from careful meticulous archiving, while several others are indirectly linked to it. So, it is no surprise that one of the primary beneficiaries of this is the institution of education. However, there are certain things that need to be addressed before getting into its importance in education - namely how archives are different from libraries, the importance of archiving as a practice, and finally, the role that it plays in education.

Difference between Archive and Library

Off the face of it, archives and libraries seem to be the same - the storage and retrieval of information. However, there are several differences between archives and libraries, some of which are explained in detail below.

Library

Archive

Information stored is easily accessible by the public. 

Information stored is not easily accessible and people require special permission to access it. 

The idea behind a library is the sharing of knowledge among people and possibly even building a culture and community around it. 

The idea behind an archive is the proper preservation of information in a form that is imperishable and long-lasting.

Libraries offer lending services in one way or the other as they are mostly operated on a business model.

Archives do not offer lending services as the information stored in them is that important, but with special access, they can be offered copies of that information, but never the original document itself. 

Libraries primarily offer lending services as a result of which there can be wear and tear on the book or material that contains the information. 

Archives by their very nature are restricted from public access, and proper preservation techniques are used so that there is infinitesimally small wear and tear (if any at all).

Libraries contain books of fiction and non-fiction, magazines, newspapers, and so on that are also available in the public domain.

Archives primarily focus on preserving and gathering firsthand facts, evidence, and data from reports, notes, memos, letters, photographs, and other primary sources.

Librarians tend to help the people who come here to find information and conduct research as well as document and keep records of the books that are added there.

Archivists are in charge of processing and cataloging documents and records that are of high importance either to the state or the institution to which it belongs.

Libraries may or may not hold data that is of continuing value to the state or institution to which they belong.

Archives are created with the intention of storing data that is of continuing value to the state or institution to which they belong.

Role in Education

Primary Sources

Now that that is out of the way, let us get into the heart of the argument here - the importance of archiving in education. The main reason behind archiving in education is the concept of primary sources. Primary sources are the firsthand facts and information that people go to in order to understand a concept in detail. However, this brings up the question - why do we need primary sources?

Primary sources are a gateway to the past, a peek into the documented evidence of history. They help identify patterns that might otherwise be quite hard to discern on the basis of present events alone. Primary sources offer a critical perspective to support students in interpreting how past events may have contributed to our current world. Having access to these primary sources is therefore quite essential, and this is where archiving comes in. It is a way of looking into the past to understand the fate of our future.

In addition, using primary sources makes sure that students are accurate in their research, hypotheses, and conclusions. Archives offer them access to the records and relevant information they would need to complete their tasks with ease and convenience.

Social Studies Education

One of the best ways to get students to learn is through experiential learning, and in the field of social studies, there is not much to go with, which is where archives come in. Archives can provide educators with the source material required to help students get a first-hand experience in the subject. These experiences will remain with the students for a long time, which they can use in real-life applications elsewhere.

School Archive

Another kind of archive that schools can make use of is a general school archive. A school archive is a continuous record of all the students that have studied there and photographs, videos, and other material that are related to them and their achievements. It serves as a means of keeping a record of the schoolโ€™s activities over the years, and more importantly, gives an idea about the evolution of the school over the years. There are a lot of schools that do follow keeping a school archive from as far back as they have photographs.

Conclusion

Archiving is, as mentioned above, quite an important aspect of data retrieval and storage, especially when it comes to information that is sensitive in nature. The purpose of archives is to ensure the continued persistence of information in one place, and more schools need to work towards the initiative to not only use archives as and when necessary but also to build one of their own.

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