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The Importance of International Archives Day

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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.

References

About the International Archives Day: https://www.ica.org/en/about-international-archives-day

Lessons learned while gathering data for the International Directory of National Archives.  (2017): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Asq6en8yqIM

Nabé, A. (2017). The national directorate of archives of Guinea celebrates the international day of archives. Guinée Culture: http://www.guineeculture.org/La-Direction-Nationale-des-Archives-de-Guinee-celebre-la-journee-internationale.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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

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Alyse Dunavant-Jones – IDNA Researcher

Heather Kohles

Heather Kohles – IDNA Project Coordinator, Spring 2017

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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.

Abstract:

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.

Biography:

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.

References

Alele Musuem, Library and National Archive (2000). National Archives. Retrieved from: http://alelemuseum.tripod.com/Archives.html

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (1989). The National Archives Act of 1989. Retrieved from: http://rmiparliament.org/cms/images/LEGISLATION/PRINCIPAL/1989/1989-0047/NationalArchivesAct1989_1.pdf

Interview with Dr. Pat Franks and IDNA Project Members

SCH_SOI_Blue_WebOn February 8, 2017 an interview with Dr. Pat Franks, Svetlana Ushakova, Pamela Lutzker and Inna Gogina was posted to the ISchools website.  In the interview Dr. Franks discusses the inspiration for the IDNA project and researchers discuss their experience during the international research process, the challenges they faced and the countries which they profiled.

For the entire Interview please visit http://ischool.sjsu.edu/about/news/detail/ischool-professors-and-students-create-first-international-directory-national

Climate Change and National Archives

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Mary Malone

I started this project focusing on the national archives of some Pacific island nations.  Not being able to actually visit these archives, I was often distracted by the very beautiful pictures of these coral islands presented by Google during my research; images of blue water and a vibrant sky dotted with big white clouds provided a much needed virtual vacation from the cold, wet winter I was experiencing in Seattle.  But this beautiful, warm paradise can wreak havoc on historical documents and artifacts.  As archivists, librarians, and museum professionals, we are well aware of the risks that these institutions face, including extreme weather, natural disasters, war, aging infrastructure, and the very modern concern of hardware and software degredation and obsolesence.  Archives have always faced some level of risk and accordingly, many archives have some sort of disaster plan to deal with the those disasters most likely to affect their archives.

A particular risks to the national archives of the Pacific island region (including Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia) is the environment, as the tropical climate of these island nations presents a challenge to the preservation of analog records and to the maintenance of hardware necessary to house digital records. Hot, humid environments are the archenemy to archival preservation.  Paper and water just don’t mix.

Not only does the environment pose a challenge to the archives of Pacific island nations, but Matthew Gordon-Clark points out two new risks to these island national archives in his 2011 article “Paradise lost? Pacific island archives threatened by climate change”: rising sea levels and extreme weather events.  As sea levels rise due to global warming, those low-lying Pacific islands are at particular risk of damaging or losing their archives to encroahing sea levels and storm surge water (the author mentions Tuvalu, Marshall Islands, Tokolau, and Kiribati at greatest risk).  Even those island nations that sit well above sea level still risk damage to national infrastructure due to rising sea levels, which will impact all areas of governement and life.  Additionally, extreme weather events (stronger and more frequent hurricanes, for example) pose a myriad of risks to all Pacific island countries and their national archives.  This very real possibility should be considered by the national archives of these nations, especially if they have the opportunity to relocate inland to higher ground.

Indeed, changing weather is an issue for all nations and cultural heritage institutions world wide, not just those in the Pacific, and should be addressed in disaster plans to ensure that we preserve those documents and artifacts that are most important to our countries.  Until then, let us hope that these seemingly idylic Pacific islands remain so.

Reference:

Gordon-Clark, M. (2011). Paradise lost? Pacific island archives threatened by climate change. Archival Science, 12(1), 51-67.