Standards have an impact on almost every area of life and archival practice is no exception. In our daily lives we rely on standards for safety, quality, efficiency and in order to communicate. Canadian archivists have developed codes of ethics, guidelines for education and have adopted numerous technical standards such as the ANSI standards for micrographics.
In the face of advancing technology, shrinking resources, unmet challenges, and growing international involvement, archivists are finding it necessary to pay increasing attention to the ways in which they accomplish their work. The formalization of the process of arriving at standards is a necessary aspect of this attention.
This document is intended to explain the process for development, review, and endorsement of standards for archival practice in Canada. In doing so it also outlines the roles and responsibilities associated with standards development and endorsement and provides guidelines for the proposal, development, and revision of a standard.
Standards take many forms: laws, codes, guidelines, structures, recommended practices, rules, conventions and precise technical standards. There are various ways of arriving at standards: deciding on priorities for the profession and developing internally a needed standard, reviewing and adopting an existing standard perhaps developed by another discipline or working in collaboration with other groups to arrive at a standard that serves a common need. The process for arriving at standards for Canadian archival practice provides for a variety of standards development methods.
The development, endorsement and maintenance of standards is an activity in which both institutions and professionals should be involved. The process must ensure meaningful participation and involvement of all interested parties.
Implementation and applications of standards are institutional responsibilities. The role of CCA is to facilitate and coordinate the standards development process. As well CCA will report on implementation status, identify implementation problems and promote national standards.
The Canadian Archival Standards Board is a joint board which formally endorses standards. It consists of members of the Bureau of Canadian Archivists and of the Board of CCA. Establishment and endorsement of standards is based on comprehensive participation and consensus. To facilitate the process of formal endorsement, the CCA provides secretariat services to the Canadian Archival Standards Board and presents standards to the CASB for review.
The CCA Standards Committee is charged with encouraging, coordinating and facilitating the development of standards. It does not manage a structure, but coordinates a process which is based in principle on International Standards Organisation guidelines. The main tasks of the Committee are to recognize priorities, identify resource and funding requirements, and facilitate the development, review, approval and maintenance of national standards. It also recommends formal recognition of technical committees to develop specific standards. Individuals, experts, professionals, committees as well as the CCA Standards Committee can identify areas requiring standards.
Standards are developed, revised and maintained by the technical committees which are working groups of experts. These are multidisciplinary in composition where this is appropriate. Technical committees work in accord with IS0 procedures and guidelines. They obtain comprehensive input and invite review by all parts of the archival community and recognized experts. The CCA Standards Committee proposes endorsement of existing or newly developed standards to the CCA for review by the CASB where these standards are applicable to archives and ensures that vetting has been comprehensive and adequate.
The Canadian archival community participates in national and international standards processes. Both individual archivists and institutions contribute by cooperating in the determination and application of standards.top
How a Standard is Developed and Maintained
Proposer of standard
How a Standard Is Approved and Endorsed
Appendix A - Standards Development, Approval and Endorsement
Appendix B - STANDARDS DEVELOPMENT FORMAT
TITLE (or topic) OF STANDARD:
DATE SUBMITTED TO STANDARDS COMMITTEE:
STATUS OF STANDARD:
Need for the standard:
Format and content of the standard:
Composition of technical committee:
Plan for development of standard (include budget and timetable if appropriate):
Plan for review:
If applicable, attach existing standard.
Appendix C - Canada's National Standards
The Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) is one of several national standards-development organisations accredited by the Standards Council of Canada. The CGSB has developed over 1500 standards in approximately 100 subject areas including building and construction, textiles and clothing, transportation and distribution, health care technology, procurement, fuel and energy products, services, lifestyles and environment, communications / information technology. Its activity in the last area establishes the CGSB as the standards development organisation with which archives would be most involved.
CGSB also participates in many international standardization activities quality management services, including the qualification and certification Programmes, and manages various technical secretariats for the IS0.
CGSB assists in the development of standards by investigating the need for a standard, forming committees, administering meetings, preparing minutes, assisting in arrival at consensus, administering the ballet taking when required, forwarding standards for approval as National Standards of Canada, publishing standards and providing quality management services. There is a charge back for the services of the CGSB. The CGSB also provides assistance by investigating funding for standards development.
Standards developed and endorsed by an organisation, in our situation, the Canadian Archival Standards Board, can be taken to CGSB for approval as a National Standard. This use of the CGSB process is essential in cases where a standard is to be taken forward as an international standard. Where a standard is to be developed jointly with another profession working through the CGSB framework could be the most efficient approach. In cases where a standard of interest to archivists is being developed by another group or manufacturing body, archivists can seek representation on the development committee.