Dr. Laura A. Millar is an independent consultant and scholar in records, archives, and information management and has also worked in publishing and distance education. She has consulted with governments, universities, colleges, professional associations, non-profit organizations, and other agencies around the world. Her work has ranged from advising the Government of Hong Kong on best practices in records and archives management to consulting with First Nations’ communities in the Canadian arctic on the preservation of indigenous sources of evidence. She was named the winner of the Society of American Archivists' 2011 Waldo Gifford Leland Award for Archives: Principles and Practices. She is the author of dozens of publications and conference presentations, and she has taught records and archives management in several universities in Canada and internationally. She lives with her husband in the community of Roberts Creek, on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada.
A Matter of Facts: The Value of Evidence in an Information Age
- Table of Contents
- About the Author
“Like Orwell and Bradbury, like Stanley and Siskind, Laura Millar has written a book that people in the future will look back on and say, ‘This is one of the books that helped us to survive until a new era.’”
— from the Foreword by Lee McIntyre
The safeguarding of authentic facts is essential, especially in this disruptive Orwellian age, where digital technologies have opened the door to a post-truth world in which “alternative facts” can be so easily accepted as valid. And because facts matter, evidence matters. In this urgent manifesto, archives luminary Millar makes the case that authentic and accurate records, archives, data, and other sources of documentary proof are crucial in supporting and fostering a society that is respectful, democratic, and self-aware. An eye-opening treatise for the general public, an invaluable resource for archives students, and a provocative call-to-arms for information and records professionals, Millar’s book
- explains the concept of evidence and discusses the ways in which records, archives, and data are not just useful tools for our daily existence but also essential sources of evidence both today and in the future;
- includes plentiful examples that illustrate the critical role evidence plays in upholding rights, enforcing responsibilities, tracing family or community stories, and capturing and sharing memories; and
- examines the impact of digital technologies on how records and information are created and used.
With documentary examples ranging from Mesopotamian clay tablets to World War II photographs to today’s Twitter messages and Facebook posts, Millar’s stirring book will encourage readers to understand more fully the importance of their own records and archives, for themselves and for future generations.
Examination copies are available for instructors who are interested in adopting this title for course use.
"In such difficult times, we don’t just need truth. We need proof."
Read an interview with the author and watch an archived panel discussion featuring the author now!
1. “Fake news” and “Truthiness”: The Value of Evidence in a Post-Truth World
2. “Rarely pure and never simple”: Truth, Facts, and Evidence
3. “Given under my hand”: The Nature of Evidence
4. “Talking knots”: The Form of Evidence
5. “Let the other side be heard”: Evidence, Identity, and Connection
6. “The secrecy helped spread the disease”: Evidence, Justice, and Rights
7. “A mysterious and malleable thing”: Evidence, Memory, and Narrative
8. “Opinions embedded in math”: Evidence, Manipulation, and Abuse
9. “Electronic records, paper minds”: Evidence and Assumptions
10. “An arms race against the forces of fakery”: Evidence and Accountability
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"Her writing is conversational, anecdotal, with little technical jargon, and while there are many scholarly references, the book is designed to be easily read and digested. It is a superb piece of polemic and advocacy but could readily serve too as an introduction to the key recordkeeping issues of democracies in the digital age ... Every archivist should read it.”
— Archives and Manuscripts
"By clarifying the distinction between data, information, and evidence, Millar guides readers to approach an ever-expanding universe of personal, business, and government records with an eye toward what needs to be preserved and what should be culled ... This book will be of value to anyone concerned about the erosion of facts in the current political climate; it requires no background in archival theory to understand the dire state of evidence in public life.”
"At the heart of Millar’s work is the theme of interconnectivity between records and our sense of self and inclusion within our communities, which underscores the importance of recognizing how critical evidence is to our daily lives and how it needs watchful protection. It is an important message because archivists, librarians, and information professionals cannot do this alone, and in a post-truth world, society needs to come together to support evidence-based truth and challenge false facts and manipulation of evidence.”
— Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies
"The strength of this book is its clarity and ability to get a broad truth across about the necessity and benefits of maintaining accurate records and archives, and the consequences when we don’t or can’t maintain records ... Millar succeeds in explaining the nature of evidence as records, for a broad intended audience of new information professionals, record keepers/archivists and even those not part of the information profession.”
— Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association