ARST 540 (3) Archival Public Services


MAS and Dual students: completion of the MAS core courses.

MLIS students: completion of the MLIS core courses, plus permission of the iSchool Graduate Advisor.

GOAL: This course prepares students for the public-facing work of archivists and records professionals. The course will familiarize students with principles that guide and processes involved in a variety of archival public services, including: providing reference assistance; planning and implementing public programming; engaging with community; outreach to existing and potential archival users; advocating for collections and for the people who use and rely on them and/or are represented in them. Taking a broad view of public service, the course will help students identify and understand the publics that archival institutions and records programs currently serve and have historically served, as well as those that have historically been underserved or ignored. Students will consider how improvement to archival public service, especially related to equity, accessibility and inclusion, can be enacted.


Upon completion of this course students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of the principles and concepts applying to archivists’ responsibility to make archival holdings accessible; [1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 4.1]
  • Identify and discuss the diversity of uses and users of archives (including potential uses and users); [1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4]
  • Analyze what access means in archival settings, how it is provided, what barriers to access exist & how these can be mitigated; [1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 2.1, 3.1, 4.1, 4.2]
  • Explain archival access and reference policies and procedures to users and non-specialists; [2.1]
  • Explain the need for and nature of trauma-informed approaches to archival public service; [1.1, 1.2, 1.4, 1.5]
  • Design an outreach program for an identified group or community; [1.2, 1.3]
  • Discuss the role of advocacy and archivists’ responsibility for it, and draft a proposal for an advocacy action; [1.5, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3]
  • Critically engage with the roles, ethics and responsibilities of the archivist in serving their public(s). [1.5, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3]

* Student learning outcomes reference the MAS Program Learning Outcomes


  • Public service in specific contexts: what’s different about public service in archives, libraries and museums?
  • Accessibility: what does it mean and to whom? What barriers to it exist? How can access to archives and archival materials be improved?
  • Uses and users of archives: who uses archives, why and what are their needs? Who doesn’t use archives and why?
  • Reference spaces and interactions: how is archival reference service different than library reference service? What do archivists need to know to conduct reference service? How can archivists facilitate meaningful and productive reference experiences for different users?
  • Ethics of access and reference: what ethical issues arise in access and reference interactions and how can archivists ensure they are serving different publics ethically and equitably?
  • The purposes and processes of archival outreach: how do archivists connect with users (and potential users) outside their institutions?
  • The role of advocacy and archivist’s responsibilities as advocates: how can and do archivists advocate for the materials they care for, their users, their institutions, and their profession? How can archivists become stronger advocates for records-related issues in society?
  • Technology and archival public service: how are digital technologies impacting how archivists interact and work with the public?
  • Trauma-informed approaches to working with public: how can archivists incorporate principles of trauma-informed practice into their work with different publics?
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