This is a proposed new standard glossary term. See this post for background on this review track. To comment on the term below either click the blue “Reply” button at the bottom or select a passage of text in the term and click the “Quote” pop-up to create a comment about that section only.

Short Definition: The role responsible for managing and maintaining an archival collection.

Extended Definition: The person responsible for managing and maintaining an archival collection, usually a librarian with special training in archival practices and methods, including the identification and appraisal of records of archival value, authentication, accessioning, description and documentation, facilitation of access and use, preservation and conservation, and exhibition and publication to benefit scholarship and satisfy public interest.



Related Terms:


Term Lead: Steven McEachern


I think you should probably speak with the Association of Canadian Archivists as well as the Society of American Archivists.

the term “archival collection” has very specific meanings in the context of archives. In Canada, archivists use the Rules for Archival Description (RAD) to guide their work. RAD defines an archival collection as follows:

“Collection. (1) A grouping of DOCUMENTS of any PROVENANCE intentionally assembled on the
basis of some common characteristic; (2) A level of description. (Collection)”

Archivists normally work with groupings of documents called ‘fonds’. RDA defines a fonds as follows:

“Fonds. (1) The whole of the DOCUMENTS, regardless of form or medium, automatically and
organically created and/or accumulated and used by a particular individual, family, or
CORPORATE BODY in the course of that creator’s activities or functions. (2) A LEVEL OF

This is all a long-winded way of saying that in the world of archives there is a distinction made between a fonds and a collection. For the layperson, these two terms are frequently used interchangeably, but they do have specific meanings and usages. My concern with the definition presented here is that it is using the language of archives somewhat imprecisely, which may lead to confusion if dealing with actual archivists who use the fonds/collection distinction in a technical manner.


Sorry for the extra post. I should add that Universities granting the professional degree held by most librarians and archivists (the MLIS), typically have streams of study. McGill and UofT (in Canada) spring to mind as good exemplars of this model. Everyone gets the same master’s degree, but students can decide early on if they want to go down the library stream, or focus in on archives.

The long description seems to suggest that most archivists are librarians, which is not necessarily accurate, or the case. Librarians should know a good deal more about the function of archives, and archivists, by contrast, could stand to know how their work connects to the broader bibliographic universe of published materials. That, however, is the subject of a much different conversation.


Yes, we will need to include these considerations in the definition. Thank you very much, Matt, for this and your previous comment related to this term,


This topic was automatically closed after 0 minutes. New replies are no longer allowed.



This topic was automatically closed after 0 minutes. New replies are no longer allowed.