Currents of Archival Thinking
2nd Edition
by Heather MacNeil and Terry Eastwood, Editors
January 2017, 398pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-4408-3908-5
$70, £54, 61€, A96
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3909-2
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

How has archival thinking evolved in recent decades and where is it headed in the future? This book answers these questions and addresses the role of archival institutions today.

With new technologies and additional goals driving their institutions, archives are changing drastically. This book shows how the foundations of archival practice can be brought forward to adapt to new environments—while adhering to the key principles of preservation and access.

Archives of all types are experiencing a resurgence, evolving to meet new environments (digital and physical) and new priorities. To meet those changes, professional archivist education programs—now one of the more active segments of LIS schools—are proliferating as well. This book identifies core archival theories and approaches and how those interact with major issues and trends in the field. The essays explore the progression of archival thinking today, discussing the nature of archives in light of present-day roles for archivists and archival institutions in the preservation of documentary heritage.

Examining new conceptualizations and emerging frameworks through the lenses of core archival practice and theory, the book covers core foundational topics, such as the nature of archives, the ruling concept of provenance, and the principal functions of archivists, discussing each in the context of current and future environments and priorities. Several new essays on topics of central importance not treated in the first edition are included, such as digital preservation and the influence of new technologies on institutional programs that facilitate archival access, advocacy, and outreach; the changing legal context of archives and archival work; and the archival collections of private persons and organizations. Readers will also learn how communities of various kinds intersect with the archival mission and how other disciplines’ perspectives on archives can open new avenues.


  • Presents current thinking on archival theory, methods, and practice and addresses new thinking about the role of archival institutions
  • Documents how the foundational principles of archives and museums are changing
  • Introduces readers to other disciplinary perspectives on archives
  • Supplies contributions from practitioners as well as academics, representing a range of perspectives and archival traditions
Heather MacNeil is professor in the University of Toronto Faculty of Information. She is the author of numerous articles and of Without Consent: The Ethics of Disclosing Personal Information in Public Archives and Trusting Records: Legal, Historical, and Diplomatic Perspectives.

Terry Eastwood is professor emeritus in the School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia. He is a fellow of the Society of American Archivists and of the Association of Canadian Archivists.


"As an adjunct professor, I can easily see adding this book into my curriculum to provide students with a theoretical framework from which to build their practical knowledge."—Technical Services Quarterly, February 1, 2019

"Each chapter and essay is thoroughly researched and provides multiple statistics to back up claims. . . . This title is perfect for academic libraries (particularly library schools), special collections, and for those pursuing a career in archives and records management."—VOYA, April 4, 2017

"The second edition of Currents of Archival Thinking should be considered a stand-alone book, rather than simply an updated version of a resource that is already in your bookcase. . . . Overall, there appears to be a sense of openness to users, communities, society, and social justice in nearly all the chapters. . . . Whether intentional or not, this shift in archival discourse, grounded solidly on 'traditional' archival theory, is more than welcome."—Archivaria, March 7, 2018
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