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Article
Publication date: 12 August 2020

Marc Kosciejew

This study aims to present and discuss the international library and information community’s initial responses to the coronavirus pandemic. It chronicles official…

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Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to present and discuss the international library and information community’s initial responses to the coronavirus pandemic. It chronicles official statements from various library and information associations as they were released in real-time, thereby providing a contemporary and historical snapshot of the early stages of this global health crisis. The aim is to both historically and thematically contextualize these initial responses to help establish a foundation upon which to anchor, build, extend and analyze approaches to the pandemic as it unfolded (and indeed as it continues to unfold at the time of this writing in June 2020).

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing upon a qualitative documentary analysis of statements on COVID-19 released by various international library and information associations, this study provides a thematic analysis of these contemporary policies. Specifically, this thematic analysis was carried out to identify and illuminate major themes appearing within the statements. Further, a comparative thematic analysis was then undertaken to compare the themes across all statements to discover and determine convergences or divergences in content and coverage.

Findings

The formal statements released by these organizations feature and share many similar themes in their initial responses to COVID-19, including support for/solidarity with libraries; information provision; maintaining services; digital migration of services; workplace arrangements/concerns; contextual contingencies of libraries (diversity of kinds, circumstances and challenges); health concerns and proper/good hygiene; countering dis/misinformation; external collaborations with public health agencies; and partnerships with industry including publishers.

Research limitations/implications

Although this study’s purview is admittedly limited in size and scope – involving six, albeit major, library and information associations from mainly English speaking countries – it can be used as a foundation for further studies into how libraries and information centres in other English and non-English speaking countries responded to the coronavirus pandemic.

Practical implications

This study can help inform current, alternative, contingency or other future library responses geared towards or tailored for the coronavirus or other health-related crises. It can also be used as a baseline to track the trajectory of library responses and actions as they unfolded throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

Social implications

By providing the start of an account and analysis of the international library and information science (LIS) community’s initial responses, this study also contributes to the broader (ongoing) conversation about the coronavirus pandemic and intervenes in emerging historical examinations of this crisis. This study could be of interest to LIS scholars and practitioners, in addition to public health researchers, public policymakers, cultural studies academics and historians, interested in how different and intersectional efforts – in this case, the international LIS community – contributed and can contribute to this pandemic and other similar or parallel crises.

Originality/value

The international library and information community’s initial responses to this global health crisis are contextualized, thereby serving as a foundation upon which to anchor, build and extend other research on responses to the pandemic as it unfolded. Drawing upon a qualitative documentary analysis of these statements, this study presents and discusses the international library community’s initial responses to the coronavirus pandemic. It chronicles these statements as they were released in real-time, thereby providing a contemporary and historical snapshot of the early stages of this crisis. The aim is to both historically and thematically contextualize the international library and information community’s initial responses to help establish a foundation upon which to anchor, build, extend and update the international library community’s responses to the pandemic as it unfolded (and indeed as it continues to unfold at the time of this writing in June 2020). This foundation, it is hoped, will help illuminate their respective positions, circumstances, convergences, divergences and areas of possible (future) cooperation, coordination and collaboration.

Details

Global Knowledge, Memory and Communication, vol. 70 no. 4/5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2514-9342

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 16 August 2021

Marc Kosciejew

The purpose of this paper is as follows: the first objective is to help illuminate part of the international archival sector’s initial responses to the crisis at its…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is as follows: the first objective is to help illuminate part of the international archival sector’s initial responses to the crisis at its commencement, particularly by thematically analyzing the announcements made by national archives, which are arguably the leading archival institutions in their respective countries and the second objective is to help establish a joint contemporary understanding and historical snapshot of the positions of national archives during the first few months of the pandemic.

Design/methodology/approach

A comparative thematic analysis of national archives’ first formal public-facing COVID-19 announcements, released between March and May 2020, is conducted, specifically from the official websites of Australia’s National Archives of Australia, Canada’s Library and Archives Canada, New Zealand’s Archives New Zealand, the United Kingdom’s (UK) The National Archives and the United States of America’s (USA) National Archives.

Findings

Notwithstanding their diverse contexts, all the announcements thematically converge in discussing the closure of physical locations and spaces, as well as maintaining (reduced) services and offering remote access. Another theme appearing across most announcements is the concern for the protection of the health, welfare and safety of their communities. Additional themes featured in some of the announcements include considerations about the handling of paper records and physical materials, the removal and/or return of materials and the provision of further COVID-19 information. Unique themes appearing only once include steps for enacting precautions, furloughing staff and reopening and post-pandemic planning.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations to the article’s purview include its small sample size, focus on mainly English-speaking contexts and analysis of only official websites. Nevertheless, this sample arguably includes some of the major and leading archival institutions, not only in their respective countries but also internationally, namely, two national archives from North America (Canada and the USA), one from the wider European region (the UK) and two from Oceania (Australia and New Zealand). Further studies could expand the cohort size, diversify the focus for instance by analyzing social media postings and metrics and extend the timeframe.

Practical implications

This study could be of interest to archival academics and professionals, as well as library and information science scholars and practitioners, public health researchers and policymakers, cultural studies scholars and historians, exploring international and intersectional initiatives that have informed or are currently informing, approaches to and understandings of this pandemic and other similar health crises. It is further hoped that this study will humbly show support and supply solidarity with the wider archival community as it continues responding to and dealing with COVID-19.

Social implications

Capturing and analyzing aspects of national archives’ communication strategies related to the coronavirus pandemic is a topic of interest, not only for contemporary attempts for dealing with and understanding the crisis but also as a historical snapshot of their responses at this particular point in time.

Originality/value

By contributing to ongoing conversations about the coronavirus pandemic, this study provides the beginning of an analysis of the international archival sector’s initial interventions within it. As the first article in the archival literature on this topic, a baseline and point of reference are established for other studies that will hopefully follow on this topic. In these ways, it can also contribute to debates on how archives and other cultural memory institutions including libraries, museums and galleries, have reacted to the coronavirus pandemic and their resulting communication strategies and impacts upon their institutions, missions, collections, services and communities.

Details

Global Knowledge, Memory and Communication, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2514-9342

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 10 January 2019

Marc Richard Hugh Kosciejew

The purpose of this paper is to begin a conversation about the term “nondocument.” It analyzes this term’s possible concepts, components and contexts.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to begin a conversation about the term “nondocument.” It analyzes this term’s possible concepts, components and contexts.

Design/methodology/approach

This conceptual paper draws upon the work of documentation studies scholars, including Michael Buckland, Bernd Frohmann and Niels Windfeld Lund, to begin an exploration of the term “nondocument,” framed within the context of the 2013–2014 Israeli–Palestinian peace negotiations brokered by the USA. It is comprised of seven sections revolving around different questions regarding non-document.

Findings

The document at the center of the 2013–2014 Israeli–Palestinian peace negotiations aimed to establish a framework for an eventual final-status peace agreement. There was skepticism, however, about the document’s proposed reservations inscription permitting either party to express reservations with any part of the framework. It was claimed that this reservation inscription made the document self-negating and therefore a non-document. This document was arguably a hybrid entity: a document-non-document. It was a document in the context of the negotiations. It became a non-document in the context of the collapse of the negotiations.

Research limitations/implications

The 2013–2014 peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine, brokered by the USA, revolved around a diplomatic document outlining provisions for a final peace settlement. The two parties were skeptical of a proposed provision permitting reservations to be expressed over other provisions within the document. An official involved in the negotiations stated that this provision made the document a non-document. But what exactly is meant by this term? This paper takes the opportunity to begin exploring such a notion. The aim, however, is not to definitively define non-document but instead to raise questions and provoke further discussions of this term.

Originality/value

The concept of non-document is underdeveloped. This paper presents questions and conceptual tools to help develop this term whilst providing possible points of departure for further examinations of how documents are or might be non-documents. These questions and tools also point in directions for various other approaches to phenomena that could be regarded as documents in some respects but not in others, or the ways in which something could is “almost” but “not quite” a document, or even help determine what is “not document.” Ultimately, this term could help expand other “conventional” approaches to documentation.

Article
Publication date: 19 July 2021

Marc Richard Hugh Kosciejew

Introducing immunity or vaccine passports is one non-pharmaceutical intervention that governments are considering to exempt immune, vaccinated or otherwise risk-free…

Abstract

Purpose

Introducing immunity or vaccine passports is one non-pharmaceutical intervention that governments are considering to exempt immune, vaccinated or otherwise risk-free individuals from lockdowns and other public health restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic. The primary objective of these documents would be to begin reopening societies, restarting economies and returning to a pre-pandemic normalcy. This article aims to present the start of a conceptual documentary analysis of (proposed and existing) COVID-19 immunity passports in order to more fully center their documentary status within research, considerations and conversations about their potential roles, impacts and implications.

Design/methodology/approach

Inspired by Paula A. Treichler's argument for the importance of theoretical thought for untangling the socio-cultural phenomena of epidemics, and drawing upon interdisciplinary theories of documentation, identity and public health, combined with recent news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, this article provides a contemporary overview and conceptual analysis of emerging documentary regimes of COVID-19 immunity verification involving immunity or vaccine passports.

Findings

Three major interconnected objectives could be fulfilled by immunity passports. First, they would establish and materialize an official identity of COVID-19 immune for people possessing the formal document. Second, they would serve as material evidence establishing and verifying individuals' immunity, vaccination or risk-free status from the coronavirus that would, in term, determine and regulate their movements and other privileges. Third, they would create tangible links between individuals and governments' official or recognized identity category of COVID-19 immune. Immunity passports would, therefore, help enable and enforce governmental authority and power by situating individuals within documentary regimes of COVID-19 immunity verification.

Research limitations/implications

In the expanding interdisciplinary literature on COVID-19 immunity passports, sometimes also called certificates, licenses, or passes, there appears to be only minimal reference to their documentary instantiations, whether physical, digital, and/or hybrid documents. As yet, there is not any specific documentary approach to or analysis of immunity passports as kinds of documentation. A documentary approach helps to illuminate and emphasize the materiality of and ontological considerations concerning the coronavirus pandemic and its associated kinds of immunity or vaccination.

Social implications

By beginning an exploration of what makes immunity passports thinkable as a public health response to the coronavirus pandemic, this article illuminates these health and identity documents' material implications for, and effects on, individuals and societies. This article, therefore, helps shed light on what immunity passports reveal about the complicated and contested intersections of identity, documentation, public health and socio-political control and discipline.

Originality/value

This article contributes the start of a documentary analysis of (proposed and existing) COVID-19 immunity passports in order to more fully center their documentary status within research and conversations about them.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 78 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 2 March 2021

Marc Richard Hugh Kosciejew

Signs saturate and surround society. This article illuminates the significant roles played by documentation within the context of the coronavirus pandemic. It centres…

Abstract

Purpose

Signs saturate and surround society. This article illuminates the significant roles played by documentation within the context of the coronavirus pandemic. It centres, what it terms as, “COVID-19 signage” as essential extensions of nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) into society. It posits that this signage helps materialize, mediate and articulate the pandemic from an unseen phenomenon into tangible objects with which people see and interact.

Design/methodology/approach

This article presents a documentary typology of COVID-19 signage to provide a conceptual framework in which to situate, approach and analyse this diverse documentation and its implications for social life and traffic. Further, this article offers a case study of Malta's COVID-19 signage that helped materialize, mediate and articulate the pandemic across the European island nation during its national lockdown in the first half of 2020. This case study helps contextualize these signs and serves as a dual contemporary and historical overview of their creation, implementation and use.

Findings

The coronavirus pandemic cannot be seen with the naked eye. It is, in many respects, an abstraction. Documents enable the virus to be seen and the pandemic to be an experienced reality. Specifically, COVID-19 signage materializes the disease and pandemic into tangible items that individuals interact with and see on a daily basis as they navigate society. From personal to environmental to community signs, these documents have come to mediate social life and articulate COVID-19 during this extraordinary health crisis. A material basis of a shared “pandemic social culture” is consequently established by and through this signage and its ubiquity.

Research limitations/implications

This article can serve as a point of departure for analyses of other kinds of COVID-19 signage in various contexts. It can serve as an anchor or example for other investigations into what other signs were used, including why, when and how they were produced, designed, formatted, implemented, enforced, altered and/or removed. For instance, it could be used for comparative studies between different NPIs and their associated signage, or of the signage appearing between different cities or countries or even the differences in signage at various political and socio-temporal points of the pandemic.

Social implications

It is dually hoped that this article's documentary typology, and historical snapshot, of COVID-19 signage could help inform how current and future NPIs into society are or can be used to mitigate the coronavirus or other potential health crises as well as serve as both a contemporary and historical snapshot of some of the immediate and early responses to the pandemic.

Originality/value

This documentary typology can be applied to approaches and analyses of other kinds of COVID-19 signage and related documentation. By serving as a conceptual framework in which situate, approach and analyse these documents, it is hoped that this article can help create a sense of clarity in reflections on sign-saturated environments as well as be practically employed for examining and understanding the effective implementation of NPIs in this pandemic and other health crises.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 77 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 26 August 2014

Marc Kosciejew

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Abstract

Details

Library Review, vol. 63 no. 6/7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0024-2535

Keywords

Abstract

Article
Publication date: 12 January 2015

Marc Richard Hugh Kosciejew

The purpose of this paper is to argue that information is an important effect of documentation. It is in this way that documentation studies distinguishes between concepts…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to argue that information is an important effect of documentation. It is in this way that documentation studies distinguishes between concepts of and practices with “information” and “document”: that is, documentation studies helps illuminate how information is created, stabilized, and materialized such that it can emerge and, in turn, how it can then be controlled, deployed, enforced, entrenched, managed, and used in many different ways, in various settings, and for diverse purposes.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper presents a conceptual framework on documentation, drawing upon the work of Bernd Frohmann, Michel Foucault, Bruno Latour, Hannah Arendt, @@and Ian Hacking, and applied to a case study of Apartheid South Africa.

Findings

Apartheid’s documentation helped achieve apartness at the macro and micro levels of society: on the macro level, the creation and subsequent separation of different racial and ethnic identities were drafted, adopted, and turned into law through legislative documents; on the micro level, these identities were reinforced through routines with personal documents and public signs. This documentation functioned as a documentary apparatus, providing a tangible link between individuals and their official racial and ethnic categories by creating a seamless movement of documents through various institutions; further it helped transform these racial and ethnic identities into lived facts that disciplined and controlled life.

Originality/value

By examining documentation, one can present a fresh and unique perspective to understanding the construction of various things, such as the construction of identities. This conceptual framework contributes to Library and Information Science (LIS) by illuminating the central role of documentation in the creation, stabilization, materialization, and emergence of information. By using Apartheid South Africa as a case study, this paper demonstrates how this framework can be applied to shed new light on different kinds of phenomena in diverse contexts; consequently, it not only contributes to and extends parts of the scholarship on documentation studies within LIS, but also presents new directions for other academic disciplines and multidisciplinary analyses and research.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 71 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

Keywords

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