Principles for archival information services in the public domain
In 2010, in response to the Australian Government’s November 2009 apology to Forgotten Australians and former child migrants, a scoping study was undertaken by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) to assess the options for a national ‘Find and Connect’ service to allow people to locate and access relevant records and have recourse to support services. The scoping study noted that Pathways, a web-based public knowledge space and a product of the Victorian ‘Who Am I?’ research project, was a community-based information resource without equal in the out-of-home care sector in Australia or indeed internationally. The scoping team made the observation that Pathways, due to its quality of content and coherent structure, appeared to be based on a set of principles and wondered what they were. In response the research team set about articulating the principles that underpinned their approach to archival documentation and the use of digital technologies – principles that had emerged through more than two decades of public domain, archive-focussed projects. This paper presents those ten principles and discusses them within the context of Pathways and the ‘Who Am I?’ project. The principles played a key role in FaCHSIA adopting Pathways as the model for the national Find and Connect database and web resource, launched on 15 November 2011. The principles underpin community knowledge building in the fourth or pluralised dimension of the Records Continuum. The paper ultimately argues that all stakeholders (all people and organisations connected with records) should have the ability to contribute to the utilisation of those records through the improvement of documentation and that some archival systems do have a duty of care to ensure they can inter-operate with community-generated knowledge.