macroappraisaln. (also macro-appraisal) an analysis of the functions of an organization to determine the relative importance of those activities and set priorities for documentation Brown 1995, 123–124In the final analysis—and this is where I differ slightly from Cook—I believe that the reading of records for understanding of creator context should be initiated from the very outset of macro-appraisal, as part of the general process devoted to the identitication and mapping of significant creator sites within large or complex institutional organizations, rather than at a later or subsequent stage of records assessment in either confirmation or amendment of the knowledge offered by creator metatext. Cook 1996, 142Macro-appraisal moves in a top-down fashion from the purpose or broad societal function to all relevant record creators, to the key individual record creator, through various structures, transactional processes, and client interactions designed to implement that societal function (and numerous subfunctions and activities) within that creator, on to information systems created to produce and organize records that permit those processes to work, and finally to the records themselves—which document all the foregoing as well as the impact of the function and structure on the citizen and, equally important, that of the citizen on the function and structure. By concentrating on the functional and records universe as a whole rather than on a portion of it, by advocating a top-down approach based on functional analysis rather than a bottom up, empiricist analysis based on the search for “value” in records, macro-appraisal provides a sense of direction, a strategy, and a theoretical basis for coping with the voluminous and very fragile records of complex modern organizations. Lemieux 1998, 33Macro-appraisal theorists such as Cook advocate the selection of records for long-term preservation on the basis of an analysis and valuation of the context of records creation over and above an examination of the actual records themselves. This shift in focus from content to context forces the archivist to come to a much clearer understanding of records’ origins and of the evidentially critical features surrounding their creation. Beaven 1999, 157Essentially, macro-appraisal theory, like all the variants of functional analysis, shifts the focus in appraisal from the actual records (the product of creation) to their context of their creation (the process). Cook 2004, 5For a dozen years now, the National Archives of Canada has implemented the concept and practice of macro-appraisal. Macro-appraisal is a combined theory, strategy and methodology for performing archival appraisal. It was developed in the context of the challenges of voluminous paper records of a modern, complex, heavily regionalised national government and the crisis of preserving electronic records, both in large database and automated office formats, but has also since been employed in other institutional settings below the national level, from provincial and municipal governments to business corporations. Macro-appraisal approaches ‘the refined art ofdestruction’ through more defensible concepts and methods of appraising records for long-term archival retention than those previously adopted by archivists following the Jenkinsonian or Schellenbergian models. Boles 2005, 28Cook started the macro-appraisal process by looking at the records creator. His goal was to determine the records creator’s “function”; a term he defined as being based on the purposes and intents of the creator. To function he added “structure”; that is, he included the actions of the records creator. Cook argued that government officers created records by performing their assigned functions through their administrative structure. Caron and Brown 2013, 149The inauguration (1991) of macro-appraisal by the former National Archives of Canada was a watershed moment, and it represented a huge institutional achievement. It completely redefined the landscape and development of archival appraisal theory and strategy both at the National Archives and across Canada, and eventually, it would come to have some significant international profile and prominence. It introduced, for example, provenance-based appraisal linked to structured-systems thinking and especially functional analysis. Macro-appraisal also initiated communications form, format, and medium-agnostic appraisal, as well as focused appraisal analysis endeavor at the context and tier of the records creator rather than on the content of documents and records. Finally, macro-appraisal insisted upon a new primary objective: to identify and capture a documentary representation or illustration of how government develops policy, makes decisions, establishes infrastructure, and interactively delivers programs and services to citizens through public administration over time, rather than to account comprehensively for all business activities and their corresponding information resources at the enterprise level of business transactions. In essence, macro-appraisal was truly a revolutionary manifesto. Gilliland 2014a, 229Macro-appraisal is an approach pioneered by Terry Cook and his colleagues at the National Archives of Canada in the 1990s that analyzes institutional functions, asks which functions are to be documented, and then looks for records that meet those documentary objectives. Robyns 2014, 31–32Macroappraisal is a form of functional analysis that seeks to enhance and ensure appraisal accountability, compliance, and performance (measurable results against stated goals) and is based on sound theory relevant for our time.
NotesMacroappraisal identifies the activities and the records and is followed by microappraisal to determine which records are kept permanently.
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