Volume 6, Issue 1 (2019) Proceedings from the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Document Academy

PDOCAM'19 Introduction

Fidelia Ibekwe

Documentation as a field of professional activity, education, and inquiry is French, thanks to the Madame Documentation Suzanne Briet and to Belgian Paul Otlet, the father of our discipline. It was indeed long overdue to host a DOCAM conference in France. The theme of the 2019 edition was “Documents in the data era: From multimedia, to augmented, hyper, enriched, and fragmented... what else?”

As we know, each new invention of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) come with ominous pronouncements about the imminent demise of documents, still largely perceived by many as being only in hard copy materials and mostly made of texts. Yet, for knowledge and information to be useful to society (and not only to individuals), they need to be fixed on materials that can be shared. Documents are therefore the “tangible” or “informed” (as in “put into form”) manifestation of information and knowledge, whether it is in hard copy or in digital form, whether it is made up of a snippet of text as in tweets, a Facebook post, a birth or death record, an invoice of a transaction completed online, an email, a newspaper article, a video file posted online, a memorial object, or a podcast of a program.

The 2019 edition of DOCAM investigated the road that documents have travelled in the face of the increasing virtualisation of all material media and in particular in the face of a world in the grip of data-ism. Indeed, what are big data, if not a vast ensemble of documents? Authors were invited to explore the ways in which documents have resisted and evolved to adapt to the forms imposed by each “new ICT” by successively being “multi-media”, “hyper”, “augmented”, “enriched”, or “fragmented”. The big data era places important documentary burdens on us all, since no one person can now mentally assimilate the abundant information necessary to accomplish a task.

The truth of this statement was brought home to me during interviews I carried out for a book I recently wrote on the Origins of LIS in Europe. I travelled to a few EU countries interviewing 2nd generation LIS scholars, i.e. those who were associated with the move towards universities as the seat of learning in LIS, some of whom knew the pioneers of LIS in their various countries. Although my interview questions had been sent ahead of the actual face-to-face interview; during the interview, some scholars resorted to Google search to recollect places, events, names, etc. That brought home the uniqueness of documents as media for recording any knowledge artefact for posterity, even if today most documents we consult are no longer presented in the linear book or article form, they are still documents, be them web pages returned from a Google query, an sms giving you an information on something, etc.

Big data therefore makes it even more imperative to be constantly surrounded by multimedia and multiformat “documents” that we constantly browse, in repose, more often in movement, in order to accomplish different tasks (prepare a lecture, respond to a query, fill in a form online, write a research paper, simply to fill in gaps of knowledge on a favourite topic, etc).

The 2019 Annual Meeting of the Document Academy is rich in that it comprises 26 presentations of three types (talks, creative works engaging public participation, and posters). We also enjoyed an incredible docket of keynote speakers—Jonathan Furner (U.S.), Manuel Zacklad (France), Wayne DeFremery (South Korea)—who helped us to think deeply about issues of documentation and to consider them in expansive ways. Coffee breaks and lunches provided time to digest the science as well as create networking opportunities.

The papers tackled the full spectrum of documents in LAMs (Libraries, Archives, and Museums) and covered studies where documents are physical objects to documents in space and in embodied artefacts.

The origins of the authors also reflected the openness and diversity of the DOCAM community. Authors came from 11 countries: France, UK, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, USA, Canada, Korea, Malta, and Spain.


Conference Proceedings


Writing Documentarity
Arthur Perret


More Than Meets The Eye: Toward an Ontology of Proximity
Laurie J. Bonnici and Brian C. O'Connor

Issue Editors

Tim Gorichanaz
Guest Editor, DOCAM'19 Chair
Fidelia Ibekwe
Jodi Kearns
Kiersten F. Latham

Review Board

Shelley Blundell
Geir Grenersen
Rob Montoya
Bhuva Narayan
Sabine Roux


The 2019 Annual Meeting of the Document Academy was held on June 12-14, 2019 at University of Toulon, Toulon, France.

The Theme at this year’s meeting was Documents in the data era: From multimedia, to augmented, hyper, enriched, and fragmented... what else.