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A Matter of Facts: The Value of Evidence in an Information Age

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  • Written by Laura A. Millar

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  • ONE BOOK, ONE PROFESSION 2020/2021 Selection

    “An urgent manifesto on how evidence – and archives – are crucial in fostering a respectful, democratic, and self-aware society.”

    –AMY COOPER CARY, Head of Special Collections and University Archives, Marquette University

    The safeguarding of authentic facts is essential, especially in this disruptive Orwellian age, where digital technologies have opened the door to a post-truth world in which “alternative facts” can be so easily accepted as valid. And because facts matter, archives matter. An eye-opening treatise for the general public, an invaluable resource for archives students, and a provocative call-to-arms for working professionals, Millar’s book:

    • explains the concept of evidence and discusses the ways in which records, archives, and data are not just useful tools for our daily existence but also essential sources of evidence both today and in the future;
    • includes plentiful examples that illustrate the critical role evidence plays in upholding rights, enforcing responsibilities, tracing family or community stories, and capturing and sharing memories; and
    • examines the impact of digital technologies on how records and information are created and used.

    With documentary examples ranging from Mesopotamian clay tablets to World War II photographs to today’s Twitter messages and Facebook posts, Millar’s stirring book will encourage readers to understand more fully the importance of their own records and archives, for themselves and for future generations.

    A Matter of Facts is the first book in the Archival Futures Series, co-published by SAA and the American Library Association.

    Product Details

    Publisher: Society of American Archivists and American Library Association (2019)
    Paperback: 192 pages
    Product Dimension: 6x9 inches
    Weight: 0.633 pounds
    ISBN: 978-0-8389-1771-8
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A Matter of Facts
  • "Her writing is conversational, anecdotal, with little technical jargon, and while there are many scholarly references, the book is designed to be easily read and digested. It is a superb piece of polemic and advocacy but could readily serve too as an introduction to the key recordkeeping issues of democracies in the digital age . . . Every archivist should read it.”
    Archives and Manuscripts

    "By clarifying the distinction between data, information, and evidence, Millar guides readers to approach an ever-expanding universe of personal, business, and government records with an eye toward what needs to be preserved and what should be culled . . . This book will be of value to anyone concerned about the erosion of facts in the current political climate; it requires no background in archival theory to understand the dire state of evidence in public life.”

    "At the heart of Millar’s work is the theme of interconnectivity between records and our sense of self and inclusion within our communities, which underscores the importance of recognizing how critical evidence is to our daily lives and how it needs watchful protection. It is an important message because archivists, librarians, and information professionals cannot do this alone, and in a post-truth world, society needs to come together to support evidence-based truth and challenge false facts and manipulation of evidence.”
    Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies

    "A Matter of Facts offers a compelling argument for society to embrace evidence-based truth. Millar’s idealistic vision (her words) of a society that is “free, democratic, respectful, and self-aware” is a world I want to live in. ”
    RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage