The Lessons of Reflection

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Figure 1. Celebrating the ICRC Archives Featured Image
Brenda Williams

When I decided to become involved in the IDNA Project, I did so from a research perspective.  As a researcher, I have had the opportunity to explore many archival institutions, but I had absolutely no background in archival science.  I must admit being afforded the opportunity to be a part of the IDNA Project spiked my interest in archival science.  As a student pursuing my MLIS degree at San Jose State University, I decided to enroll in a few MARA classes in my last year of study.

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Figure 2. International Council on Archives logo

This fall I am enrolled in the Archives and Manuscripts and Preservation courses.  As I started learning about provenance, original order, appraisal, arrangement, description, analog and digital preservation, and the archival community, all I could think about were the archival institutions I researched and the data I compiled for the project.  Upon reflection, the little details started to take on a new meaning for me.  I began to consider how archivists look at records in groups and how the records are related and collected based upon the activities of the organizations/persons that created them.  I pondered the importance of the creator of the records and how important an archives mission or vision statement is to the appraisal process for potential acquisitions.  I was no longer thinking of the information I had collected as just facts about the archives.  I started considering the cultural heritage community and the role that archival theory plays in archival institutions and how this theology is shared internationally across this community.I am reminded of the National Archives of Romania, whose mission places great emphasis on the preparation, selection, and preservation of records containing documentary evidence of national identity, proper functioning of government and cultural memory.  With this mission in mind, it only makes sense their holdings consist of records from government entities, private collections, and public and private institutions.  I can also see the value in why the archives serve as the authority on which governmental and organizational records hold historical value.  In Romania, no organization or government department can dispose of records without the national archives evaluating the material to determine historical value (National Archives of Romania website, 2017).

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Figure 3.  British Library Endangered Archives logo

I think of the value of collaboration within the archival community when I reflect on the archives in Madagascar.   The Madagascar Archives contains collections documenting the history of the Malagasy people as well as the history of the nation.    The collection of Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony has been digitalized through the UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme, which is supported by the Endangered Archives Programme. It contains royal archives from 1864 to 1895 and marks the beginning of archival history for Madagascar.  It is amazing these records have survived, and they can be digitalized and shared thanks to the preserving spirit of the Madagascar Archives and their initiative to reach out and collaborate with wonderful programs like UNESCO dedicated to safeguard heritage collections that are at risk (British Library Endangered Archives Programme website, n.d.).

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Figure 4.  Roll of microfilm

Lastly, the Archives of Serbia comes to my mind as I learn about digital archival practices and preservation techniques.  One of the functions of the archives is to develop and improve archival practices across the republic.  The Archives of Serbia sticks out in my mind because it has an interesting organizational structure.  One of the departments within the archives is called the Department of Technical Protections.  This department is dedicated to conservation and preservation of analog and digital materials.  In its efforts to preserve materials the archives have developed its own microfilm collection.  Preservation is so important, and I really liked the emphasis the Archives of Serbia placed on this important practice (Archives of Serbia website, 2017).

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Figure 5. Thank you IDNA Project.

Reflecting on my experience with the IDNA project, I no longer just see the institution, repository, or the collections when I consider archives.  My eyes are now open to the science behind what archivists do, and it is through the dedication of the individuals working together within an archive and the formation of external partnerships outside of the archives that makes the cultural heritage of these international institutions what they are.  A big thank you to the IDNA Project for taking me under your wing and for providing me the opportunity to grow as a person and to gain knowledge and develop a new perspective on archives.


Advantage website (2017).  Advantage preservation: Libraries and historical societies [Figure 4. Roll of microfilm image].  Retrieved from:

Archives of Serbia website (2017).  Internal Organization.  Retrieved from:

British Library Endangered Archives Programme (n.d.).  Safeguarding the political history of pre-colonial Madagascar: The archives of Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony (1864-1895).  Retrieved from:

Idealist Careers website (2014).  5 “thank you” letters you could send to people in your network that matter, [Figure 5.  Thank you IDNA Project image].  Retrieved from:

International Committee of the Red Cross website (2014).  Celebrating the ICRC Archives, [Figure 1. Celebrating the ICRC Archives featured image] Retrieved from:

National Archives of Romania website (2017).  About the Archives, NAR History.  Retrieved from:

RICHES Project website (2014).  Annual Council of the International Council on Archives, Girona 2014,  [Figure 2. ICA logo image].  Retrieved from:

Vanderbilt College of Arts and Science website (2017).  Slave Societies Digital Archive, [Figure 3. British Library Endangered Archives logo image].  Retrieved from:






IDNA in the Society of California Archivists

alyse-dunavant-jonesAlyse Dunavant-Jones, a researcher with the IDNA project authored an article published in the Society of California Archivists Fall 2017 issue.  The article is based on a presentation given on June 9th 2017 by members of the research team on lessons learned during their time contributing to the IDNA publication.

Here is the link to the newsletter to see the full article

Congrats Alyse!

The Importance of International Archives Day

Neela Morari

International Archives day falls on June 9th every year and was a result of a resolution of 2000 participants of the 2004 international Congress who requested that the United Nations create an International Archives Day. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness of national archives—the importance of archives to the public, the benefits of records management to the decision makers and the need to preserve the archives for one and all.

This summer, I had the opportunity to participate as a researcher for the IDNA project. My research on the West African country, Guinea, led me to an article describing exactly what the International Archives day was created to accomplish. In Guinea, the 2017 celebrations were attended by several personalities, from political figures to historians. The Director of National Archives stated that “the objective of the day is to make the public aware of the importance of archives as a basis for rights and freedoms” (Nabé, 2017). The message that concluded the ceremony was the wish that the following year a whole week would be dedicated to raising awareness instead of only one day. 

Just a few short weeks into my position as an IDNA project researcher, I much appreciated a different International Archives day celebration that raised my own awareness.  Experienced researchers from past and current semesters delivered a presentation entitled “Lessons learned while gathering data for the International Directory of National Archives.” Social media as resources, understanding cultural privacy versus the right of access to information, and challenges that may be faced when it came to dispersion of archives and resources were some topics that helped me during my research. Google Translate was another useful tool recommended to help in retrieving information from webpages not in English. The presentation also clarified the iterative nature of the whole research process from gathering data from multiple resources, social media and research articles, to narrowing down to the most current and accurate information. 

I have had the opportunity to visit a handful of countries and was always interested in learning about the local history. This interest had led me to applying for the position of a researcher for the IDNA project. My usual go-to for information would be history books at a local store. However, in the future, when an opportunity presents itself, I will definitely perform some online research on national archives of a region prior to my visit. For now, I will make some virtual international visits through the International Council on Archives website which has an “About page” on International Archives Day with links to a list of how various regions of the world have celebrated the day since 2009.


About the International Archives Day:

Lessons learned while gathering data for the International Directory of National Archives.  (2017):

Nabé, A. (2017). The national directorate of archives of Guinea celebrates the international day of archives. Guinée Culture:







IDNA Celebrates International Archives Day June 9, 2017

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Please join us June 9th 2107 at 3:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time for a live webcast Moderated by IDNA Co-Editor Dr. Pat Franks.  Panelists Alyse Dunavant-Jones, Heather Kohles and Kate Eminhizer will discuss the IDNA project, their experiences and lessons learned along the way.


Dr. Pat Franks – Co-Editor of the International Directory of National Archives


Alyse Dunavant-Jones – IDNA Researcher

Heather Kohles

Heather Kohles – IDNA Project Coordinator, Spring 2017


Kathryn Eminhizer – IDNA Researcher

Friday, June 09, 2017

Time: 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time

Location: Online using Collaborate URL: Join Live Session

Individuals requiring real-time captioning or other accommodations should contact Dr. Sue Alman as soon as possible.


iSchool students share experiences as researchers for the International Directory of National Archives, edited by Dr. Pat Franks and Dr. Anthony Bernier. IDNA will serve archivists, historians, and researchers with information about 198 national archives. Slated for publication in 2018, IDNA has allowed iSchool students and alumni to conduct research on how nations manage and preserve their documentary heritage and to contribute to a work that will share their findings with a wide audience.


Alyse Dunavant-Jones is interested in archives and preservation and digital curation. Before pursuing a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science at the San José State University School of Information, she worked in public libraries for seven years. Dunavant-Jones is part of the VCARA and SLA student groups and is active in virtual world librarianship. She is also the iSchool CASA-SAC representative and has served as a GRA for the InterPARES Trust project. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Writing with an IT minor.

Heather Kohles holds a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Photography from the University of Nevada, Reno. After leaving the forensic science community, Ms. Kohles pursued the Master of Archives and Records Administration degree at the San José State University School of Information, graduating in May of 2017. In her previous career, she was avidly involved with ISO accreditation, quality assurance, and policy creation.

Kathryn (Kate) Eminhizer holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public History from Empire State College. She is currently a library technician at a military community library. Her work in libraries, museums, and elementary schools extends for more than 10 years. She served in both the U.S. Army Reserves and the PA National Guard. Her interest lies in archives and the preservation of cultural heritage. Eminhizer is currently enrolled in the Master of Library and Information Science degree program at the San José State University School of Information.

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The Right of Access vs. Cultural Privacy

Heather Kohles
Heather Kohles

In my research capacity for the International Directory of National Archives I researched the national archive of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Alele Museum, Library and Archive.  In my time researching the Alele I came across the Marshall Islands’ National Archives Act of 1989.  This act spells out the various functionaries governing archival retention for the nation.  Included in the act are provisions that no records available to the public can be duplicated as a whole or in part without the written consent of the archivist.  Furthermore, it is understood that the Archivist has the right to deny consent if the reproduction of said record will not be in the best interest of the nation.

In addition, to my research role, I also was tasked as the project coordinator for the IDNA project.  This allowed me access and review of all the country profiles submitted to the project.  I found situations like those spelled out in the Archives Act of the Marshall Islands to be very similar to other nations who wish to safe guard the dissemination of their cultural information.

This might seem counter intuitive to those of us who have grown up in a nation where cultural objects are preserved and made available, especially now with social media and Archive 2.0 platforms, promoting access and retention of archival digital surrogates.  We have come to correlate preservation with the right to free and open access to those items being preserved.  However, other nations, as a reflection of their social, political or religious environments passionately preserve their culture for those in the culture.  For whatever reason, policies for such private cultures protects the integrity and flow of information within the culture it was created, which in turn makes us as researchers responsible for maintaining ethical access practices to ensure international cultures are preserved according to their standards and not “western” expectations.


Alele Musuem, Library and National Archive (2000). National Archives. Retrieved from:

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (1989). The National Archives Act of 1989. Retrieved from: