Developing Archival Skills with the AABC



The importance of archives and the value of records has found a resurgence in pop culture thanks to television and movie references like the “Jedi Archives” in the Star Wars franchise and most recently in Captain Marvel — I may have been the only person in the theatre who cheered when the main characters searched through the S.H.I.E.L.D. Archives for clues! In the real-world, library staff may find themselves working with archival materials and feel unsure of archival theory and which best practices to follow. The Archives Association of British Columbia is here to help!

The AABC offers a range of professional development opportunities that are available for librarians, archivists, historians, genealogists, museum professionals, students or volunteers who would like an introduction to archival management, a refresher on media-specific best practices or detailed hands-on training through workshops.

Distance Education Courses

The AABC offers 6 different distance education courses and typically schedules 3 courses per year. In a distance education course, students work from a self-study guide and are able to work at their own pace over 10 weeks to complete a series of questions and projects. The projects are designed with a practical application in mind as students can use examples or items from their own holdings and then utilize their completed project back in their workplace. The courses are structured as a one-to-one relationship between student and instructor – there is no live chat, no software portal to log into, no discussion forums. Upon the successful completion of assignments, students will receive a certificate of completion (no letter grades or academic credit are given). We are pleased that interest in AABC distance education courses has gone global as students from across Canada, North America, Europe, Asia and Africa with a range of archival, library and cultural-sector backgrounds have successfully completed courses! Further information about specific courses can be found at https://aabc.ca/education/distance-education/.

The 2019-2020 course calendar includes the following:


Managing Archival Photographs (January 7 – March 18, 2019), registration October 1 – November 23, 2018

Managing Archives (April 8 – June 17, 2019), registration February 1 – March 25, 2019

Managing Plans and Drawings (September 9 – November 18, 2019), registration June 3 – July 26, 2019


Introduction to Archival Preservation (January 6 – March 16, 2020), registration October 7 – November 25, 2019

Introduction to Archival Practice (April 20 – June 29, 2020), registration February 3 – March 16, 2020

Oral History: From Theory to Practice (September 14 – November 23, 2020), registration June 1 – July 20, 2020



The AABC also arranges sponsored workshops which are provided to specific groups on an ad hoc basis and organizes specialized workshops delivered by experts on a variety of archival and preservation topics. The list of available AABC workshop courses includes:

  • Introduction to Archival Practice (1 or 2 days)
  • Managing Archival Photographs (2 days)
  • Introduction to Managing a Digitization Program (2 days)
  • Metadata and Archives (1 day)
  • Arrangement, Description and RAD Refresher (1 day)
  • Appraisal and Deaccessioning (1 day)
  • Introduction to Archival Preservation (2 days)
  • Emergency Planning for Archives (2 days)
  • Managing Archives (1 day)
  • Oral History (1 day)
  • Records Management 101 (1 day)

Most recently, the AABC has been fortunate to receive funding from the Government of Canada through the Documentary Heritage Communities Program (DHCP) to offer a series of free training clinics for Indigenous organizations, Indigenous communities and cultural-memory keepers to be held between Feb 2019 – March 2020. The purpose of the clinics is aimed at building archival management capacity in Indigenous communities in British Columbia as they build self-governance, develop their community services and continue to preserve their heritage. The clinics include a 1-day workshop “Archives 101: Archival Practice for Indigenous Organizations” and site visits in each region.

Librarians are welcome to attend the workshops as they are a great venue for networking and building community relationships. More information about the regional clinics can be found at https://aabc.ca/events/archives-101-archival-practice-for-indigenous-organizations/.

AABC workshop_photo_2019
Upcoming workshops for 2019 include:

Northwest Coast Region

  • Dates: Monday, September 9 & Tuesday, September 10, 2019 (Note: This is a 2-day workshop)
  • Time: 10:30am – 4:30pm
  • Location: Multi Purpose Room, Prince Rupert Library
  • Address: 101 – 6 Ave West, Prince Rupert, BC V8J 1Y9

Kootenay-Columbia Region

  • Date: Monday, September 23, 2019
  • Time: 10:00am – 4:30pm
  • Location: Manual Training School Meeting Centre (attached to the Cranbrook Public Library)
  • Address: 1212 – 2nd Street North,  Cranbrook, BC V1C 4T6

The “AABC Archivist’s Toolkit” & Webcasts

In order to reach colleagues throughout the province and beyond, the AABC provides a series of educational resources on our website that are available free of charge.

The “AABC Archivist’s Toolkit” offers access to a wide range of on-line and published resources for Archivists and information-management workers at all levels. Special care is taken to provide resources for small and medium-sized archives. While originally intended for the British Columbia archives community, the AABC Archivist’s Toolkit has evolved into much more as archives-related sites across Canada and internationally link to this valuable site. The website is reviewed and updated annually so current resources are included. You can find the AABC Archivist’s Toolkit at: https://aabc.ca/resources/archivists-toolkit/

Between 2014-2018 the AABC partnered with the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at UBC and participated in their webcast program. Seven webcast roundtables were livestreamed to our local membership and members of the international archival community thanks to our modern digital age. The discussions included remote participation of those watching the webcast through the use of emails and Twitter feedback. Links to each of the webcasts for viewing can be found at https://aabc.ca/events/webcast-roundtables/.

New partnerships and webcast ideas are currently being explored so check this site often!

Interested in signing up?

Registration for distance education courses and workshops is announced on the AABC website (aabc.ca) and also sent out on various listservs including Archives-BC (the AABC listserv); Arcan-L (the Association of Canadian Archivists listserv for Canada-wide postings); the BC Museums Association listserv and the BC Library Association listserv. Information about events and workshops is also posted on the AABC Facebook page. The listservs are all free to join and include other professional development and training opportunities that may be of interest!

AABC members receive a discounted registration fee for each course/workshop and member organizations are allowed to register up to 3 employees/volunteers in a distance education course/workshop at the member rate. Fees and further registration details are available on the AABC website.

Lisa Glandt is the Education and Advisory Services (EAS) Coordinator for the Archives Association of British Columbia. Contact Lisa at [email protected] or 778-680-2273.