Towards a master’s program in archival studies at the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS), University of the Philippines
Golfo-Barcelona, Mary Grace
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Abstract The archival community worldwide faces challenges posed by the advent of digital communication, shifting understandings of archives prompted by a new emphasis on the power of means of communication and archives to shape knowledge, and fundamental debates that have followed over how archives should be run. Archivists from different parts of the world have started to revamp archival concepts, learn new skills, and acquire the specialized knowledge through graduate level education (master’s and doctoral degrees) necessary to address these challenges. Such specialized university degree programs in archival studies are fairly new phenomena. Professional education for archivists was initially offered in many countries by archives themselves to their new staff members and through conferences held by archival associations. Some then followed with one-year graduate diploma programs that eventually developed into a full master’s degree. In Canada, the Association of Canadian Archivists first established guidelines for master’s degree programs for educating archivists in 1976. The first master’s program in Archival Studies offered in North America was launched in 1981 by the University of British Columbia. In the United States, the first guidelines for the development of a graduate program in Archival Studies came out in 1993. In Asia, by the late 1950s courses in archives were offered in several countries such as Vietnam, Taiwan, and the Philippines, but not as a specialized degree program. In the Philippines, archival courses are only being offered as elective courses within library and information studies programs. There is, thus, a major gap in the programs of archival education in the Philippines. Certain factors that are unique to the Philippine archival profession further increase the existing common challenges facing archivists across the world and heighten the need for a specialized master’s degree in Archival Studies. These factors include: inadequate access to records or archives that document the country’s rich cultural and historical heritage, which makes research on the richness of Philippine history and culture difficult; the natural environment of the Philippines that makes it disaster prone requires special education in the care and management of the archives; and the relative youth of the archival profession in the country and thus limited number of properly educated professional archivists. This thesis discusses these challenges and how they can be addressed through a graduate program in Archival Studies. Lastly, the thesis offers a rationale and proposal for a master’s program in Archival Studies at the School of Library and Information Studies, University of the Philippines.