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Careers In Culture

Heritage - What You Need To Do


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A process to obtain custody of an object, document, or collection that involves physical transfer.

Adaptive technology
Systems, devices, and software specifically designed to make library materials and services more accessible to people with physical and/or cognitive disabilities, including large print books, closed captioned video recordings, Braille signage, voice amplification devices, screen magnification, screen reading software, and voice recognition software.

The process of determining the monetary value of an item.

Archival database
An organized collection of records in digital format, containing information to be retained for an indefinite period, usually for future reference, for example, the messages received and distributed by an e-mail discussion list or the reference questions received by a digital reference service, including the answers provided.

Records that have been created over the course of an individual or organization's life, and selected for long-term or permanent preservation. These may be in any media, and are normally unpublished. Archives are distinct from libraries insofar as they hold unique records.

A person professionally educated, trained, and engaged in the administration and management of archival and manuscript collections.

Collections assessment
The process of evaluating a collection for the purpose of documenting its condition and determining courses of action regarding its care and management.

Collections management
The management and care of collections with concern for their long-term physical well-being and safety. This includes issues of conservation, access and use, and inventory, as well as management of the overall composition of the collection(s). Collections manager A trained professional who is responsible for all aspects of collections care. Specific responsibilities vary by institution, but can include day-to-day care of and access to collections, cataloging, and information management.

Measures taken to safeguard and prolong the life of an historic site, object or document and its physical, historic, and scientific integrity as long as possible in its original form, for current and future use, with the least possible treatment. Conservation activities and treatments may include examination, documentation, preventive conservation, preservation, restoration and reconstruction.

Conservation management plan
A document that defines what is of heritage significance in a place and suggests appropriate policies and treatments to protect that significance in future use and development.

A person educated, trained, and experienced in the theoretical and practical aspects of conservation and in performing treatments to prolong the life of objects and documents. Often specializes in a particular class of objects or materials.

Cultural assets
Cultural assets include built assets (buildings, bridges, fortifications, marine works, grounds and monuments), collections, and in-situ archaeological resources.

Cultural heritage
The tangible and intangible evidence of human experience, including artifacts, archives, buildings, printed material, folklore, language, customs, traditions, and social and economic practices.

Cultural landscape
Human-made changes to the physical landscape.

Cultural resources
Materials or remains, including historic and archaeological objects that compose a culture's non-renewable heritage. Also includes ethnographic objects, historic and prehistoric buildings, structures, sites, and landscapes.

The process of managing and preserving a collection according to professional museum and archival practices.

A trained professional who is usually responsible for the care, exhibition, research, and enhancement of collections. Specific duties vary between heritage institutions.

The physical material of a place, including building interiors, sub-surface material, contents, fixtures and objects associated with the heritage site.

A person who describes customs, observances, manners, superstitions, ballads, and stories of days gone by. A good folklorist meshes antiquity and modernity, making old tales relevant, while illustrating the timeless aspects of human experience.

The study and tracing of family pedigrees. This involves the collection of the names of relatives, both living and deceased, and establishing the relationships between them based on primary, secondary and/or circumstantial evidence or documentation, thus building up a cohesive family tree. Distinct from the term “family history” in that it involves more fleshing out of the life and family histories of the individuals involved.

Heritage conservation
Management and preservation of buildings, sites, structures, objects, and landscapes that have historical or cultural significance.

Historic architecture specialist
A person who provides specialized technical expertise and/or design advice to developers, owners, architects, and engineers concerning the treatment of historic building materials, use of historically appropriate modern materials, and rehabilitation of historic interior finishes and building envelopes.

Historic site
A place that it is a particular focus of past human activity, usually (but not exclusively) characterised by physical evidence of this activity.

Indigenous knowledge
The knowledge held by communities and peoples that are indigenous. In comparison, traditional knowledge is a broader term as some traditional knowledge may not be derived from the original inhabitants.

Information management
The development and maintenance of integrated information systems and the optimization of information flow and access. In heritage institutions, this most often applies to the systems (manual or computerized) that hold collections information. This may include de/accessioning, cataloguing and/or managing inventory records.

The ways in which the cultural significance of a place is presented, particularly by way of exhibitions and explanatory material.

A person who develops procedures for organizing information and provides services which assist and instruct people in the most efficient and effective ways to identify, locate, access, and use an institution's information and resources. A librarian is usually a professional with a Masters degree in library science or information science. Librarians facilitate the organization and retrieval of information in many formats such as Internet resources, compact discs, books, journals, photographs, videotapes, newspapers, magazines, and computer databases.

An institution that collects, conserves, researches, exhibits and interprets the tangible and intangible evidence of the historical activity of people and their environment.

Online catalogue
A library catalog consisting of a collection of bibliographic records in machine-readable format. Most online catalogs are searchable by author, title, subject heading, and keywords. In Canada, free public access is provided, usually through a web-based graphical user interface.

Prolonging the existence of museum, library and archival collections by maintaining them in a condition suitable for use, either in their original format or in a more durable form. A broader term than conservation, preservation includes managerial and financial considerations, including storage and accommodation provisions, staffing, and policy decisions, as well as the techniques and methods of maintaining materials in optimal condition.

Duplication of original archival materials using long-lived copy technology such as silver-halide microfilms or large format digital files and computer output microfilms.

To make it possible to use or reference an historic building, object or document, through repair, alterations, and/or additions, without destroying its cultural value. In conservation, this applies to the restoration of deteriorated objects. It can also refer to the upgrading of an entire collection, or the adaptive use and retrofitting of a building.

Returning a heritage site to a particular period in its history, without destroying its cultural value. This can include the removal of additions, or the re-introduction of missing features.

A facility such as a museum, archeological center, library or storage facility that is managed by a university, college, museum, or other educational or scientific institution, a federal, provincial, or local government agency, that can provide professional, systematic, and accountable curatorial services on a long-term basis.

A term used to describe an item's heritage value. Values might include natural, Indigenous, aesthetic, historic, scientific or social importance.

The management of heritage resources in such a way that they can be passed on with integrity to future generations.

Traditional storyteller
A person who describes the customs, practices and traditions of a particular ethno-cultural group or from a particular geographical area through stories. A good storyteller paints a verbal image of the past in a way that helps listeners understand the realities that influenced past practices and traditions.

Traditional knowledge
The knowledge held by communities and peoples of a particular ethno-cultural group or from a particular geographical area.

World Heritage Site
UNESCO has the authority to designate World Heritage Sites, and includes both cultural and natural heritage sites. They describe cultural heritage as “a monument, group of buildings or site of historical, aesthetic, archaeological, scientific, ethnological or anthropological value” and natural heritage as “outstanding physical, biological, and geological features, habitats of threatened plants or animal species and areas of value on scientific or aesthetic grounds or from the point of view of conservation.” Canada currently has 14 designated World Heritage Sites, and a further 11 sites are on Canada's tentative list for inclusion.