on Asia-Pacific Forum for Library and Achives Management
Bangalore, India, UTC- June 1-30, 2004
and Interpretation of Artifact
Dr. M.K. Bhandi * and Sri. M.P. Gowda **
thoughtful people experience vivid information, poignant
or their own unfamiliar reflections in museums and
libraries, they reach
to grasp more, see farther, and understand critically,
the library was thought of as a collection of printed
material, museums were thought of as collections of
artifacts. Artifacts, however are well displayed,
to educational and “ popular” presentations.
Museums are the repositories where civilizations store
their treasures. Humankind has always preserved artifacts
that it deemed important, that it has valued and treasured
things never to be parted with except perhaps as Neolithic
grave goods. The basic purpose of museum is to preserve
the artifacts, and to make available to the public
as many of them as possible, couched in meaningful
museums the words are seen on the walls-as well as
the issues displayed, constructed and presented. In
museum evidence and telling the story of the transformation
of the region spiritually, physically and economically
through close and explicit comparisons of the character
and nature of each group are done.
are the treasuries of a culture. Their educative tasks
involve design, transmission and cognition.
Note: *Dr. M.K. Bhandi, University Librarian and **
Sri. M.P. Gowda, Assistant Librarian
Mangalore University, Mangalagangothri – 574
is an awareness of an unusual world unfolding for
us alone, comprising multiple realities, each demanding
its own transition, each implying its own context
and complexity and each available to us briefly.
are finite provinces of meaning, constellations and
arrays that, gallery by gallery, evince a structure
of critical choices and a network of themes.
are cultural institutions inviting, astonishing choices,
provocative and extraordinary juxtapositions –
educes a reflective process, polishes a cognitive
mirror for the examination of images, thoughts and
most effective Museums capture the complex extremities
of human experience and knowledge; with varying degrees
of success, they combine, order, and illuminate them
for public access. Our culture may use such institutions
to contain permanently the artifacts, texts and records
it wishes to hold as forms of experience and knowledge.
Museums human beings can consider, compare, integrate
and think beyond the evidences of experience. Museums
are public places intended for learners, for lives
of self-invention and pursuit. At their best, they
are forums for communication, independent learning
and self presentation, intended for the living of
life on one’s own horizon, yet informed by the
horizons of others.
and libraries are environments where human beings
can come to understand the fresh and unroutinized
parts of themselves: their curiosities, their continuing,
unfinished issues, and unarticulated needs to learn.
They provide access to the diverse cultural texts,
artifacts and contexts that confer meaning in one
life over time.
museum object is a heritage item worthy of being preserved.
In the museal reality it becomes a document of the
reality from which it has been isolated. A heritage
object is a physical object whose material and form
carry rich layers of meaning to be communicated as
messages from the past to the present and to be preserved
for the future. The specific aspects of meaning of
museum objects are the following: practical, aesthetic,
symbolical and metaphysical. The museum object is
the source, carrier and transmitter of information.
It is a link between museology and a fundamental discipline.
While the fundamental discipline focuses on one aspect
of the object and remains confined to the documentational
and partly communicational approach, museology develops
an open approach to the object as an unlimited source
of information to be preserved and communicated. The
consequence of this approach is an analytical study
of different identities of the museum object, whereby
it becomes a source of information. Its conceptual
identity is that which its maker had in mind before
making it; its factual identity is its shape at the
moment when it was made; its functional identity reflects
and follows its changing uses; and its structural
identity reflects its changing material structure
in the course of its lifetime; finally, its actual
identity is a changeable property reflecting the object’s
actual state at present
– A group of ‘artificial’ and ‘concrete’
entities occurring in the process of classification.
Opp. ‘Mentefacts’. P.18.(Glossary of Library
Science Technical Terms.)
– Anything made by human invention and workmanship:
an artificial product. Museum objects include artefacts
in addition to naturally occurring items. The artifact
is held for its information content, whether educational,
scientific or aesthetic. P.8.( International Encyclopedia
of Information and Library Science.)
term in archaeology for any object made by human agency
(from Latin ars, “art” ; facere, “to
make” A-531 preshistoric S-455, pictures S-455.
( Compton’s Encyclopedia.)
is a product of man’s efforts, especially the
workmanship of prehistoric man, Immovable artifacts
are called monuments. Portable objects may be called
relics. P.633.(The World Book Encyclopedia)
materials deliberately produced by past peoples.
produced, replicated, or otherwise brought wholly
or partly to the present through human means, thus
all households items, from carpets to crucifixes,
light bulbs to beds, and cooking pots to paintings,
are artifacts; as are neckties and nose-rings. Houses,
churches, factories, and civic buildings, themselves
stationary artifacts called structures or architecture,
overflow with portable artifacts ranging from desks,
widget-winders, and laptop computers to holy water.
Most pets as well as domesticated animals are also
artifacts, for their breeding is at least partly under
human control. Less obviously, when a person”s
body is altered by applying lipstick, piercing ears,
receiving a tattoo, or styling hair, the result modifications
become artifacts. Moreover, for some purposes we can
also regard as artifacts any substances created by
but separated from, a person’s body, such as
hair, nail clippings, tears, fingerprints and noseprints,
ear wax, scabs, sloughed-off epidermis, airborne scents
and odors (from skin, hair and auxillary glands),
saliva, sputum, urine and feces. Finally artifacts
may also include human remains: corpses, mummies,
skeletons, body parts, organs and tissues, ashes and
Formal writing of any fact is known as record. Record
covers Content, Structure and Context.
- the words, phrases, numbers, imaages composing the
Sturcture – evident from the use of standard
document forms (e.g. tax
return forms, land-grant certificates, business letters).
– can be derived from
features: signature lines, addresses and salutation,
letterhead, date etc.
features: position of the document in a file; the
heading & number, the place of the file in a record
classification system; to other related documents
documents in other media (maps, photos etc.)
should be Reliable, Authentic and Complete.
Reliability: the authority and trust worthiness of
a record as evidence of the
in which they participate. A record is reliable when
it can stand for the facts it is about. Reliability
is the exclusive responsibility of the records creator:
it depends upon the degree of control over the record’s
procedures of creation and form.
Authenticity: a record is authentic when it is what
it purports to be; it has not been altered or falsified.
A record is authentic if it is precisely as it was
when first transmitted or set aside-it is as reliable
as it was when created. Authenticity is a shared responsibility
of the record’s creator and the record’s
Completeness: a record is complete if it has all the
elements of form required by the system of law in
which it is created. Minimum elements: chronological
date; topical date; originating address; name(s) of
author/writer; addresses; name(s) of copied persons;
title or subject; disposition.
The record of a transaction is only properly useful
for current and historical purposes when it has the
qualities of completeness, accuracy and reliability
questions for understanding museums
are intended to address the information at hand, the
need to devise and carry out a plan, and the need
to look backward.
What information and objects have been brought here?
v What ideas appear to be present?
v How promising are these ideas in the light of my
v How will I recognize the difficult parts of this
v How might I best approach these challenges?
v What is the situation for learning, and what constraints
does it present?
v How might I best overcome these constraints?
v What paths are open to me, where do I begin and
what is likely to follow from this beginning?
v What essential words must I use to understand these
appearances and sensations?
v What is familiar to me and how is what I already
know likely to be useful?
v What is expected of me here?
v How have I behaved usefully in similar situations
in the past?
v How will I know when I have found something useful
v Is this what I expected to occur?
v What are my questions now?
usefulness of museums
Museums emphasize connections among disparate experiences
and otherwise fragmented information.
· They offer arrays of data and alternative
paths toward these data
· Contextual information abounds
· The learner constructs order, structure or
pattern typically without interference; judgments
are emergent, provisional, relative and contextual
· Museums offer grounded empirical direct experiences
of artifacts and texts each experience acts on expectations
· Museums nurture no routine, exploratory thoughts.
· Museums and libraries are conducive to peak
· They stimulate language, they are conducive
to clarity and accuracy in perceptions language makes
classifications, questions and judgments possible.
· Museum have a particularly adult character:
they match the reflective modes of age they assist
in distinctions between ideals and realities: they
lead to renewal or suggest the possibility of renewal
and they permit us to compare the past with the new.
· It is possible to learn in the museum or
the library that we are more capable, more perceptive,
more interesting than we think.
and Critical Thinking:
for oneself within a community of discourse and inquiry
is the hallmark of adult independent learning; critical
thinking is a positive, productive and constructive
process, leading the thinker towards authentic self
awareness and the articulation of living personal
Critical thinking involves the integration of complex
events and information related to living issues; it
is an incremental process, not easily contained or
§ Critical thinking is self-induced and self-controlled.
Its forms are variable and adaptive, depending on
the contexts, issues and kinds of discourse in specific
§ Critical thinking is pervasive in the life
of the thinker. It is about both cognition and emotion;
it challenges assumptions, increases awareness of
causes, contexts and constraints and emphasizes the
imagination, exploration, and contemplation of alternatives
to existing conditions.
§ Critical thinking engages the narrow, private
world of the thinker often involving profound questions,
indirection and doubt-with a public world of dialectic
and dialogue. The presence of questions and errors
is seen as a certain indicator of learning.
Motivation: The awakening of a conscious substantial
interest in the
subject, which the learner recognizes as a practical
· Orientation: The formation of a preliminary
hypothesis or model which explains the principle and
structure of the knowledge necessary for solving the
· Internalization: The enrichment of the preliminary
model with the help of new knowledge.
· Externalization: The application of the model
as a tool in solving concrete problems, influencing
change in the work environment and producing innovation.
· Critique: The learner evaluates critically
the validity and usefulness of the explanatory model.
· Control: The learner examines his or her
own learning, stops to anlayse his or her ideas and
performance in the light of the new model and corrects
them as needed.
In our view there are three dimensions to the interpretation
of artifacts The three dimensions of interpretation
of artifacts are Instrumentality, Aesthetics and Symbolism
involves overlooking one or more dimension or overlooking
certain aspects of any of the dimensions. Any symbol
is better viewed as an artifact. Artifacts are always
perceived by the senses and that they have certain
intentions, aiming to satisfy a need or a goal. Artifacts
can include colors, dress and accessories, furnishings,
buildings, offices, stores, vehicles, windows, cartoons,
logos and emblems and more. Organizations are one
big conglomerate of physical artifacts. Most artifacts
are more than that. Artifacts allow people to do things
and inspire people to feel or react a certain way.
A systematic model for analyzing artifacts can significantly
enhance the understanding of artifacts and facilitates
effective artifact management.
systematic analysis requires understanding the dimensions
on which artifacts may vary. Artifacts can be classified
into distinct categories. Artifacts as symbols for
example, typically did not consider additional dimensions
on which artifacts may vary. It means failing to recognize
the full complexity of organizational artifacts. In
current theory that artifacts can embody conceptually
distinct and independent qualities for example a realization
of symbols and artifacts. Places evoke both actions
and feelings. Buildings can vary in form, space and
function. Buildings can be evaluated, including utility
evaluative and aesthetic evaluative. The form of a
building is considered “ design” rather
The key to instrumentality is that people and organizations
have goals to accomplish and artifacts can be evaluated
according to whether they help or hinder the accomplishment
of these goals.
v Ecological approach suggests that what people perceive
in the environment are affordances namely the extent
the environment supports or hampers desired activities.
v The usability of artifacts as a critical feature
and identifying `Web pages that suck’ to help
identify whether a Web site succeeds or fails at its
main mission – effectively communicating what
it’s about and what product or belief they are
trying to sell.
In a first model of direct influence, if the artifact
is a physical work station for e.g. it can hamper
performance due to bad location or damaged or inappropriate
equipment. If the artifact is an organizational web
site, it can facilitate performance through a good
a second model, of indirect influence, an artifact
can cause stress or other emotional reactions which
in turn hamper performance. Thus instrumentality is
one dimension for assessing artifacts. However this
is only and dimension receive to such assessments.
The other two additional and essential dimensions
are aesthetics and symbolism.
is the sensory experience an artifact elicits. Aesthetics
is separate from instrumentality but cannot be divorced
from it, since aesthetics is judged in the context
of the tasks or goals of the context of an artifact.
In the example of a picture of a man on a door the
same picture can be considered pleasantly aesthetic
when on the door of the men’s bathroom, but
considered tacky and unaesthetic when appearing on
a news web site. Similarly, expectations of aesthetic
from a logo of an auto shop for example are likely
to be very different from aesthetic expectations from
the décor of a board room, although both logo
and board room are important organizational artifacts.
everybody from industrial designers to city planners
claims to be looking after our aesthetic interests
and there is ample anecdotal evidence that, on the
margin people do put a higher premium on the look
and feel of things than they once did. But aesthetics
doesn’t come in neat units like microprocessor
speed, calories, or tons of steel. Style is qualitative
it is hard to be assessed. As a general matter, aesthetics
sells, not just in computers but in other goods and
classic case of aesthetics taking a lead over instrumentality
is with the design of cellular telephones. Ergonomic
considerations recommend a certain angle of a telephone
headset but such angles produce bulky and less aesthetic
cellular phones. The industry has navigated toward
the more aesthetic even if less functional telephones.
regards the meanings or associations an artifact elicits.
Chairs and tables have meanings. Artifacts as symbols
representing the values of organizational cultures.
physical layout of an organization reliably elicits
associations of certain qualities. Advertising campaigns
are the most vivid context in which such symbolism
is used to the point of using symbolism to create
desired identities. Attitudinal and behavioral responses
to offices as products of meaning that individuals
attribute to the work environment.
to symbolism is the process of observation and interpretation
by observers. Physical settings of organizations as
three dimensions as essential to understanding artifacts
and to effectively managing them in or for organizations.
we only recognize three dimensions but there are more.
A review of the diverse bodies of research on physical
artifacts reveals three clusters which are the foundations
of these three dimensions.
first cluster is technology and human factors engineering,
which discuss how artifacts relate to task performance,
clearly attending to instrumentality.
cluster is architecture, product and industrial design
and the fine arts, which focus primarily on aesthetics
third cluster is advertising, communication and especially
semiotics, which focus on the symbolism of signs and
marriage of multiple disciplinary perspectives appears
to capture the breadth and depth of views on physical
artifacts, supporting the three dimensions as essential
to capture the full complexity of physical artifacts.
these three dimensions together can be viewed as creating
a philosophical `whole’ by integrating a behavior,
sensory and cognition or hands, senses and mind.
relates to doing thus either facilitating or hindering
behavior. Aesthetics are tied to the senses or to
visceral reactions and symbolism builds on associations,
as it is all about message. So necessarily relies
on cognitive processes. The three dimensions therefore
suggest theoretical completeness because they tap
and integrate the fundamental distinctions in scientific
thought between doing, sensing and thinking.
view of any artifact through only one dimension can
be misleading. Yet professional training often creates
a context that leads to a focus primarily on one dimension.
But since artifacts are necessarily multi-dimensional,
effective artifact management interpretation in organizations
requires recognition and integration of multiple dimensions.
in this class involves performing a range of standardized
and administrative tasks in the areas of site management,
interpretation and visitor services, artifact management
and some site support duties which may include
clerical duties – Reception, Information, Distribution
(2) operating a sales desk – Selling photography,
VCDS, DVDS, Books
(3) maintaining the site – e.g. of Gay lord’s
this level employees perform a range of tasks such
(2) volunteer coordination
(3) operations or programs management and
(4) research for events or projects.
this level, employees function in a specialist capacity
in areas of
(2) community support and volunteerism
(3) research and restoration and operations
(4) employees plan
(5) research and coordinate projects with the site’s
(6) special interests groups.
checking the buildings and ground periodically to
ensure that artifacts are present and in good condition
(2) employees clean and maintain the historic area
(3) objects according to management training. Employees
may function as assistant site manager and perform
related duties as required.
for Archival methods:
Archivists to complete high priority tasks and carry
out high priority processes. Some strategies are:
Refining the Records Management Units analytical tools
such as the Computer Systems Inventory Worksheet,
so that computer analysts.
· Evaluating the archivists participation in
new systems development projects to determine whether
there are key phases in a project cycle that require
attention from an archivist rather than involvement
on a daily basis.
· Providing the archivists with more time for
analytical work by training clerical staff to maintain
existing records classifications and retention schedules
and to respond to routine archival inquires.
· Developing a justification for hiring more
archivists to meet the additional work load entailed
by applying archival and records management concepts
to the management of computer systems.
– Interpretation and visitor services involve:
giving tours as needed
(2) conveying information geared towards that group
(3) answering questions and
(4) researching information to answer specific questions.
identifying the event and its purpose
(2) its likely audience
(3) staffing needs
(4) its funding
(5) its expected return.
work with limited direction:
service standards and site history are written and
are used to evaluate acceptable service. Employees
develop knowledge based on further research and community
resources. Employees use judgment and tact in dealing
with visitors engaging in unsafe, destructive or disruptive
behavior, the employees work within state policies
and guidelines of the support groups to raise funding,
solicit community involvement and define a plan of
Responsibilities of the Archivists:
five roles and associated responsibilities of the
· Visionary: has an overview of the business
of the organization and its work flow and business
processes…understands what types of information
needs to be captured in the organization, given its
business and accountability structure and processes.
· System Designer: ensures that record-keeping
requirements are included in the design of business
applications, work processes and management functions.
· Policy Driver: develops the rules of record-keeping
liaises with senior management to ensure that these
rules are reflected in the plans, tools and techniques
of the organization’s programs and services.
· Retrieval Expert: provides access to information
stored in central reserves assists users in locating
· Advisor/Coach: provides advice on the development
and modification of record-keeping requirements; keeps
up-to-date with developments in the field of record-keeping.
represent the Department of Museums, the site and
the community to site visitors, school groups, historical
societies and other interest groups. Employees are
responsible for reporting theft and damage of artifacts
or property and injuries on the site. Employees document
various aspects of the site’s history, develop
operational procedures and commit the site to action
or activity; management is consulted prior to implementation.
Employees ensure that operational issues are addressed
and resolved in the absence of the site manager or
performance of visitor services may adversely effect
tourism in the area. Careless or negligent performance
duties may result in visitor injuries or loss or irreplaceable
artifacts. e.gs of national geographic journal
special events may cost the site money and community
support. Poor interpersonal skills could reduce funding
and volunteer support which are necessary to increase
visitation at a site.
is evaluated by observation, visitor comments and
participation in operation activities and in site
events planning/research is reviewed by professional
staff for viability, documentation technique, judgment
and historical accuracy. Ability to work well with
support groups is evaluated by community support.
requires a deep knowledge of the site, its history,
the area and the collection at that site. Employees
explain and relate site rules, history, safety precautions
and other information regarding the local area to
groups. Employees must have a knowledge of the community,
the types of events the community has supported before
and the logistics required for an event.
purpose of contact is to educate through entertainment,
Employees work closely with support groups, local
government and corporations to encourage the community
to provide goods and services, monies and other support.
of Work Conditions:
Some work is performed in a climate controlled visitor
centre although it also requires walking over fields
and uneven ground. Employees may be exposed to dust
and Potential of Personal Hazards:
Employees walk through old houses with narrow stairs
and hallways and low cellings of through fields: lighting
at the sites is not always good. Employees are exposed
to insects and the possibility of injury.
Skills and Abilities:
Knowledge of state and national history. Extensive
knowledge of site history. Some knowledge or archival
practices. Ability to speak effectively with a wide
variety of people. Ability to adapt historical tours
to age, interest level, special interests or time
constraints. Ability to app…. Site and state
office practices. Ability to write cohesive material
based on documentation. Ability to establish and maintain
effective work relationships.
Training and Experience Requirement:
Graduation from a high school and four years of experience
in giving or developing museum tours; or an equivalent
combination of training and experience. e. g In India
archeology department conducts six weeks training
program for the interested for the professionals in
Librarians too have started working with special collections.
They too have started digitizing rare collections’
information using a number of new technologies. We
call this as heritage artifacts. These days dramatic
and musical performances, audio recordings, spoken
words captured on audio recordings , radio broadcasts
and recently recording of moving images are stored
in the digital media in addition to the printed material.
museums should continue to concentrate on the artifacts,
not because of historical continuity, but because
that is what their customers(the public) want to see.
Most debate about what the public wants to see is
based only on presumptions. Very few museum professionals
ever go down into their halls while the public is
also there, to see what people are really doing; such
rare visits by the staff are usually to show a visiting
fireman around, or to impress a dignitary. But you
only have to visit a museum, as one of the general
public, to see what is truly popular.
Artifacts does not mean that museums must forsake
the use of technology. But technology should not devour
the artifacts. Artifacts can be locked up in their
cases, and sit undisturbed forever.
In the case of many forms of service work, we recognize
that, the better the work is done, the less visible
it is to those who benefit from it” .