| The archival appraisal of records containing personal information: A RAMP study with guidelines |
|3. A theoretical model|
30. There are other factors, as will be seen in the next chapter, which can refine and indeed reverse an initially positive appraisal decision made by using this model concerning records containing personal information. As noted before, however, such "traditional" appraisal criteria come after the application of the "macro-appraisal" based on the model of the citizen-state interaction. That model is generic. It does not depend on particular functions -- immigration, law enforcement, or health care -- but rather is applicable to all functions and is an appraisal framework that should be applied before the specific functions are assessed. Furthermore, this approach does not explicitly search for values in the records per se -- whether evidential or informational -- but rather how accurately the records project and sharpen the image of the citizen-state dialectic. That will naturally include evidential and informational values, but combine and in a way transcend them.
31. This theoretical approach is, in short, a means around a hopeless dilemma faced by archivists the world over: appraisal cannot occur properly unless the archivist can comprehend the entire information universe of government records and divine all the key themes, movements, and people in society, a requirement that is clearly impossible to achieve. This model gives a point of attack, and a rationale for it. By accepting the model of the citizen-state dialectic, the archivist can focus with confidence on a manageable part of the whole, without having to know the whole universe. He or she concentrates at the level of the personal information record on looking for evidence of significant changes, variations, and distortions between targets and results. It is at such points that the image of society is sharpest. The archivist's appraisal responsibility is to ensure that the quality of the image is high in those personal information records selected for permanent retention. It is worth repeating again that there is no implication here that such records form the entire image. As will be seen, other kinds of archival records and many other heritage and artistic artifacts also have their role. This model concerns only that portion of the image reflected in the personal information case files created during the citizen-state interaction.