ICA/SUV 2018 Annual International Conference in conjunction with XXIV Jornadas de la Conferencia de Archiveros de las Universidades Españolas


“What Value do Historical Records in University Archives Add to Universities?” Salamanca (Spain), 3rd to 5th October 2018

It is with great pleasure that the Section for Research and University Archives (SUV) of the International Council on Archives (ICA) in conjunction with the Conferencia de las Archiveros Universitarios Españoles (CAU) invite you to attend their 2018 Annual International Conference.  This Conference caters to archivists and records practitioners working in academic institutions around the world. It focuses particularly on the use of historical documentation that academic institutions retain as an important part of the heritage and institutional memory of the university itself.  Meeting at the University of Salamanca at the time of its 800th anniversary, the 2018 ICA-SUV Conference-XXIV Jornadas CAU will bring together university archivists from very different countries and cultural traditions to reflect on their own work in relation to the historical documentation they manage.

There are seventeen exciting panels including over 50 papers on topics such as:

Deepening Institutional Identity through the University Archives

Developing a university archives through skill, perseverance, and spirit

The administrative and public confidence building even through improbable documents and artifacts

Enhancing Our Value: Indigenizing the University Archives

South African Universities and  community archives

Design for the curation of digital learning objects

The role of oral testimonies in university archives

Personal archives in Universities. A comparative look at different archiving

University Archives in India

Customization of the AtoM  software for digitalcCuration of heterogeneous collections

Importance of the reference archivist in online system design

Place-based instruction in archives

Blurring the lines: a holistic approach to university records and archives

For the full conference programme, please visit:





Ethics in Archives: Blogging for Transparency

Despite only having six letters, ethics is a pretty big word, and can be a tough subject to talk about or explain. When coupled with explaining archives, the task grows, especially when the audience of that explanation is the general public with likely minimal understanding of how the two fit together.

At North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center, we believe it’s vitally important to have those conversations and establish a standard of transparency about archival work. For the past year, Jessica Serrao and Taylor de Klerk have published blog posts on what archivists think about as they face ethical decisions.

The series supports the department’s goal to use its blog as a tool to provide behind-the-scenes access to Special Collections and increase transparency. It also provides an opportunity to spark a broader conversation about ethics and archival practices.

The series consists of six posts and each post relates to a different area of archival work. These are described in more detail below:

Ethics in Archives

NCSU Libraries' Special Collections Research Center Reading Room

NCSU Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center Reading Room

As the introduction to the series, this post discusses how and why ethics are important in archival work, and the various topics that the series will cover. It provides a foundation for the discussion based on the Society of American Archivists’ Core Values Statement and Code of Ethics.


Ethics in Archives: How Special Collections Protects Your Privacy

Shelves of restricted boxes from NCSU University Archives

Shelves of restricted boxes from NCSU University Archives

This post discusses issues of confidentiality and how NCSU Libraries’ Special Collections protects the people documented in our collections. It includes visual examples of how we redact personally identifiable information and references laws relevant to the archives.



Ethics in Archives: Discoverable Description and Accessible Arrangement


Written description on folder label

Describing and arranging archival collections is an ethical act because it is easy for inherent biases to creep into finding aids and arrangement schemes. This post covers how some of the decisions archivists make affect ethical and fair archival description and arrangement, resulting in improved discoverability and access.


Ethics in Archives: Preservation Despite the Odds


Degraded tape and a micro spatula

This post tackles how archivists’ preservation decisions can affect an object’s fate. It argues that preservation decisions prioritize certain items over others, and that archivists should consider the ethical consequences of their decisions on the historical record and on user needs.


Ethics in Archives: Conscientious Collection Curation

A sea of tubes containing architectural drawings awaits pickup by NCSU Special Collections staff.

A sea of tubes containing architectural drawings awaits pickup by NCSU Special Collections staff.

Curators have to consider many ethical decisions when acquiring new materials. From building strong donor relationships and managing donor expectations to understanding how acquisition decisions affect which stories are preserved and which are silenced from the record. This post points out some of those ethical considerations that arise when curating collections.


Ethics in Archives: Diversity, Inclusion, and the Archival Record


Brickyard Diversity Project, 2013, Edward T. Funkhouser Photographs

Archives have a significant amount of social responsibility on their shoulders. This post covers several approaches for upholding that responsibility, including making records available for institutional accountability and incorporating diverse voices in the archival record.



Keep an eye out for the next post in this series–it will address digital collections and the ethical aspects of acquiring, processing, and providing access to digital archival materials.

This blog series works to positively complicate understandings of what archivists do by turning a spotlight towards the tough ethical decisions archivists make. Ultimately, these posts are intended to further spark discussion about archival ethics and how others address similar issues at their institutions.

By: Taylor de Klerk and Jessica Serrao, Library Associates, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries

Poster from the First Workshop on Scientific Archives in 2016. (c) EMBL

Introducing the Committee on the Contemporary Archives of Science and Technology (C-CAST)

The archives of science and technology document some of humankind’s greatest achievements and adventures. Scientific discoveries have revealed to us the layout of the universe, the chemistry of life and the equations of nature. Technological advances have allowed us to observe the inner workings of cells, create increasingly powerful computers, dig tunnels under the sea and build bridges spanning continents.

What is more, science and technology rely on the continual critical appraisal of past discoveries and experiments. Discoveries or inventions are all part of a longer story of exploration or innovation. Or, as Isaac Newton put it, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

The continued and reliable access to scientific records is therefore essential to keep on building on the work of previous generations of scientists. Yet, it seems that scientific records are not as systematically managed or archived by professional recordkeepers as records in other areas of human creation and endeavor. Instead, the care and custody of such records has tended to remain unclearly defined, and scientists, engineers, their institutions and archivists have not always provided viable solutions to ensure their coherent capture and archiving.

How can this be addressed?

In order to effectively capture contemporary scientific and technological records during or soon after their creation, and preserve them as archives for all, archivists need to collaborate with scientists and ensure that they have a place within scientific institutions.

To bring together different ideas and perspectives about how this might be done, 2017 saw the founding of a new committee within the ICA-SUV. The Committee on the Contemporary Archives of Science and Technology (C-CAST) thus seeks to explore ways in which archivists can better support recordkeeping in science and technology, and in so doing help preserve and share this valuable human heritage.

Poster from the First Workshop on Scientific Archives in 2016. (c) EMBL

Poster from the First Workshop on Scientific Archives in 2016. (c) EMBL

The primary activity of C-CAST will be to organize workshops on scientific archives which bring together different actors involved in the creation, capture or preservation of such records. This could be scientists, archivists or data curators, to cite a few, each of whom have different professional backgrounds and sometimes divergent understandings of what should be archived and why. By addressing these differences, perhaps we can together find common tools and languages to better capture these fascinating records, without getting in the way of the fundamental carrying out of scientific and technological work. In essence, by enabling a general conversation about scientific and technological archives, and bringing together different experiences and perspectives, C-CAST hopes to develop guidelines that can help ensure these records are persevered and accessible.

The founding members of C-CAST represent different fields of the hard sciences – life sciences, physics, chemistry – as well as engineering and biotechnology. They furthermore currently span two continents and are located in 4 countries, each of which have their own structures and archival traditions.

The next workshop will take place in Washington, D.C. on 13-14 August. More information and a registration link is available here: www.embl.org/archive/workshop

C-CAST founding members:

Bethany Anderson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA)

Anne-Flore Laloë, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (Germany)

Brigitte van Tiggelen, Science History Institute, Europe Office (France)

Melanie Mueller, American Institute of Physics (USA)

Jonathan Pledge, British Library (UK)

By: Anne-Flore Laloë, Archivist, European Molecular Biology Laboratory

Call for Papers: Second Workshop on Scientific Archives (Washington, D.C., 13 & 14 August 2018)


Venue: Carnegie Institution for Science, Washington, D.C.

Organized by: Committee on the Contemporary Archives of Science and Technology (C-CAST) of the International Council on Archives/Section on University and Research Institution Archives (ICA/SUV)

Proposals are now being accepted for the Second Workshop on Scientific Archives. The aim of the workshop is to explore topics in the area of the contemporary archives of science and technology.

Possible themes for papers include (but are not limited to):

  • Collaboration between scientists and archivists to best capture contemporary material
  • Appraisal of science and technology archives
  • Curating and making accessible science and technology archives to support both humanities research and scientific reuse
  • Describing specialist collections from a non-scientific perspective
  • Archives and scientific data management and usage
  • Public outreach and communication: who are scientific archives for?

The First Workshop on Scientific Archives was hosted by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg (DE), 1-2 November 2016.

The organizing committee welcomes proposals from (but not limited to) archivists, historians, scientists, engineers, data specialists and curators.

Papers are to be 20 minutes. Please submit a 400-word abstract using the following form: https://goo.gl/forms/4sCKjhlJQsWnU3rm1 by Thursday 29 March 2018.

Papers will be selected by the organizing committee by Friday 20 April 2018, at which point selected speakers will be notified. The full program will be published in early-May 2018.

A limited number of travel bursaries will be available for students, new professionals and international presenters. These will be distributed by the organizing committee. For more information, see: https://www.embl.de/aboutus/archive/working-with-scientific-archives/workshop/. If you have any questions, please contact Melanie Mueller, mmueller@aip.org, or Bethany Anderson, bgandrsn@illinois.edu.


New Year’s Message 2018 – SUV Chair

Greetings, ICA/SUV members!

Now that 2018 is upon us, we can look forward to warm sun and a warm welcome next fall at ICA/SUV’s conference in Spain at the University of Salamanca. A joint venture with the Conferencia de Archiveros Universitarios Españoles (CAU), the conference on 3-5 October 2018 will help commemorate that celebrated university’s 800th anniversary. The specific focus will be on university records, their collection, and their use. The goal will be to explore how the preservation and use of such historical documentation is valued as an asset of the university itself.  The call for proposals has already been issued, with a mid/late February deadline.  Please go to: http://archives.library.illinois.edu/ica-suv/files/2017/12/CFP_ICASUV_2018_BI-Dec-19-Web.pdf and start thinking about how you might participate in this conference.

Meanwhile, your Section has begun exploring new ways of engaging our far-flung membership to enable increased interaction with the Section and to make our annual conferences more accessible to those who cannot travel. Other initiatives include planning for university-focused workshops at the ICA’s November 2018 conference in Yaoundé, Cameroon. As always, we count on you to provide good ideas, so please do not hesitate to email us or post queries via our listserv, write blog entries for us about your own archives projects, or connect with us via LinkedIn.

Best wishes for a productive 2018!


Featured Image: In the southern hemisphere, at the University of Melbourne (Australia) 2018 begins in the middle of a hot summer.  The Thomas Cherry Building houses the University of Melbourne’s eScholarship Research Centre, a social and cultural informatics research centre with a focus on archival science, metadata, and contextual information.


ICA-SUV Conference Call For Papers

Reflejos_de_la_Catedral_Nueva_de_Salamanca (1)



 “What Value do Historical Records in University Archives Add to Universities?”

Salamanca (Spain), 3rd to 5th October 2018

For its 2018 Conference the ICA-SUV joins with the Conferencia De Archiveros Universitarios Españoles (CAU) to reflect on the role of archives in the university world and particularly on the use of historical documentation that academic institutions retain as an important part of the heritage of the university itself. Unlike many other communities, universities are communities that can understand and value archives. Thus, the university context is well suited both to learn about and discuss the opportunities and challenges coming with current technologies for producing and making available records.

Meeting at the University of Salamanca at the time of its 800th anniversary, the 2018 ICA-SUV Conference-XXIV Jornadas CAU will reflect on the role of archives in the university world and particularly on the use of historical documentation that academic institutions retain as an important part of their heritage. The conference will bring together university archivists from very different countries and cultural traditions to reflect on their own work in relation to the historical documentation they manage. It will focus on the purely university records and their specific problems, but will also consider the many opportunities offered by incorporated holdings such as related special collections, external archives, and personal archives.

The 2018 Conference Committee invites you to submit proposals for this Conference. To view the full Call for Proposals and the submission details, please visit the ICA-SUV website at: https://archives.library.illinois.edu/ica-suv/annual-conferences/annual-conference-2018.

Audiovisual materials often form the core of folklore archival collections. Bohdan Medwidsky Ukrainian Folklore Archives, University of Alberta.

Folklore Archives, Folklore in Archives

Image: Audiovisual materials often form the core of folklore archival collections. Bohdan Medwidsky Ukrainian Folklore Archives, University of Alberta.

In 2017, two conferences took place geographically quite close to one another, and only about a month apart. One was organized in Riga, Latvia, by the International Council on Archives Section on University and Research Institution Archives (ICA-SUV),[1] and was titled “Cultural Heritage Materials,” and the other one – in Tartu, Estonia – was entitled “Archives as Knowledge Hubs,” and was held by the Estonian Folklore Archives of the Estonian Literary Museum.[2]

I find it remarkable that practitioners who identify themselves first of all as archivists chose a theme that focused on folklore materials, while those who think of themselves predominantly as folklore researchers, decided to talk about archives. Although this juxtaposition is, of course, oversimplified, in a way, this situation sends a significant message: folklorists want and need to discuss things archival; archivists want and need to talk about folklore materials. My hope is that they also talk to each other, share knowledge and expertise, try to avoid reinventing the wheel, and instead build a better inclusive world for archivists and folklorists, for folklore archives and folklore materials in archives.

Folklore archives started and developed somewhat parallel to, rather than intersecting with, the professional archival practice. Although today collections of folklore materials can be found in many national, university and other types of archives worldwide, some folklore archives continue to exist as independent institutions, often on the margins of the archival world, and sometimes more comfortably within museums or libraries. In the course of their history, folklore archives, deliberately or not, often chose to document and preserve cultural expressions following their own standards and practices rather than adhering to nationally or internationally accepted standards of archival practice. Frequently they developed their own ways of arranging and describing traditional cultural expressions and making them available to the wide public.

At the same time, there is at least as much overlap as difference in archiving practices of folklore and general archives, and increasingly so in the digital age. Unfortunately, the two disciplines more often than not have been uninformed about the theoretical and practical advances of each other. In the past decades, however, folklore archives have been moving towards professionalization, standardization, and constant innovation, while archival communities have been opening toward revision of best standards and practices, as well as toward inclusivity, networked practices, and plurality of ideas.

Graduate folklore students documenting local choir performing. Viter Field Project. Bohdan Medwidsky Ukrainian Folklore Archives, University of Alberta.

Graduate folklore students documenting local choir performing. Viter Field Project. Bohdan Medwidsky Ukrainian Folklore Archives, University of Alberta.

The International Society of Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF) has a special interest group established in 2013 – Working Group on Archives,[3] which I am privileged to be a part of. In a way, I was assigned by this group to represent folklore archivists at the ICA-SUV. The group builds a network of folklore archives, archives of ethnology, oral history archives, sound archives, cultural heritage archives, and connects scholars working in such archives and/or with them. Although these archives are known under different names, they all aim to document experience, knowledge and cultural expressions from living people. There is growing understanding of the importance of standards and shared best practices for the management and long-term preservation of documentary heritage, especially in the digital era. Folklore archives with their long history of documenting marginalized groups, everyday life, women’s and children’s activities and views, nuances and subtleties, history that so often slipped between the cracks; with their cultural sensitivity, scholarly tradition of reflexivity, careful attention to ethics of fieldwork research, their acknowledgement of the community being studied as primary creators of records; care for records of different media and formats, have an important role to play in the archival world.

By: Maryna Chernyavska (ICA-SUV Bureau Member, Kule Folklore Centre, University of Alberta, Canada)

[1] See earlier post by William J. Maher https://icasuvblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/13/ica-suv-2017-conference-summary/

[2] http://www.folklore.ee/era/conference2017/

[3] https://www.siefhome.org/wg/arch/

Five recent articles of interest…

(Image: Jeshu John, Designers Pics)

Sometimes we can be overwhelmed by the amount of material that is available for us to read or listen to with blogs, articles, conference papers, newsletters and recordings of presentations (among others) constantly available. We often don’t have the time or ability to access them straight away, so while the members of the Section on University and Research Institution Archives have a diverse range of interests, here are five recent items that might be of interest to you:

The Dorothy Howard Collection: revealing the structures of folklore archives in museums
Mike Jones, Kate Darian-Smith, Deborah Tout-Smith & Gavan McCarthy
Archives and Manuscripts, 13 June 2017

In 2015–16 researchers from the University of Melbourne and Museums Victoria undertook a collaborative project which sought to visualise archival data from the museum as a means to investigate the structure and context of the Dorothy Howard Collection. This article introduces Dorothy Howard’s work, which is part of the internationally significant Australian Children’s Folklore Collection, and looks at the project’s processes and outcomes, including the initial visualisations produced. In doing so, the authors highlight the data-intensive nature of such work, suggest the potential of visualisations to reveal collection structures, and outline possibilities for future projects and collaborations.

It’s How Many Terabytes?! A Case Study on Managing Large Born Digital Audio-visual Acquisitions
Laura Uglean Jackson, Matthew McKinley
The International Journal of Digital Curation, 9 November 2016

In October 2014, the University of California Irvine (UCI) Special Collections and Archives acquired a born digital collection of 2.5 terabytes – the largest born digital collection acquired by the department to date. This case study describes the challenges we encountered when applying existing archival procedures to appraise, store, and provide access to a large born digital collection. It discusses solutions when they could be found and ideas for solutions when they could not, lessons learned from the experience, and the impact on born-digital policy and procedure at UCI Libraries. Working with a team of archivists, librarians, IT, and California Digital Library (CDL) staff, we discovered issues and determined solutions that will guide our procedures for future acquisitions of large and unwieldy born digital collections.

A Tale of Two Archives, Two Eras: The UC Berkeley Folklore Archives & The USC Digital Folklore Archives
Tok Thompson
Estudis de Literatura Oral Popular, 1 December 2016

This article studies two recent folklore archives of California: the Folklore Archives of the University of California Berkeley, founded by Alan Dundes, and the Digital Folklore Archives of the University of Southern California, which I started up a few years ago. In this analysis, my goal is to place these files not only as sites of action, but also as actions in themselves with participants, contexts and influences. The University of California Berkeley Archive emerged as a time of social upheaval in America and American folklore, while the Archives of the University of Southern California appeared as an integral part of the digital and global culture change human Files are a fundamental part of folklore studies and studying them allows you to understand more the discipline and the role that it plays in the society that surrounds it and where it works and what it often says it represents. This brief report tries to serve to understand how folklore studies continue to adapt and how the archives can continue to be important and relevant to a changing world so quickly.

Barriers to Digital Preservation in Special Collections Departments
Katherine Fisher
Preservation, Digital Technology & Culture, 3 February 2017

This essay selectively surveys recent findings on digital preservation in special collections settings and examines the challenges that prevent widespread implementation. Using the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s library to illustrate the situation facing many institutions, I discuss three types of barriers to digital preservation: workflow and procedural obstacles, resource limitations, and lack of buy-in.

Advancing Research Data Publishing Practices for the Social Sciences: From Archive Activity to Empowering Researchers
Veerle Van den Eynden and Louise Corti
International Journal on Digital Libraries, 25 May 2016

Sharing and publishing social science research data have a long history in the UK, through long-standing agreements with government agencies for sharing survey data and the data policy, infrastructure, and data services supported by the Economic and Social Research Council. The UK Data Service and its predecessors developed data management, documentation, and publishing procedures and protocols that stand today as robust templates for data publishing. As the ESRC research data policy requires grant holders to submit their research data to the UK Data Service after a grant ends, setting standards and promoting them has been essential in raising the quality of the resulting research data being published. In the past, received data were all processed, documented, and published for reuse in-house. Recent investments have focused on guiding and training researchers in good data management practices and skills for creating shareable data, as well as a self-publishing repository system, ReShare. ReShare also receives data sets described in published data papers and achieves scientific quality assurance through peer review of submitted data sets before publication. Social science data are reused for research, to inform policy, in teaching and for methods learning. Over a 10 years period, responsive developments in system workflows, access control options, persistent identifiers, templates, and checks, together with targeted guidance for researchers, have helped raise the standard of self-publishing social science data. Lessons learned and developments in shifting publishing social science data from an archivist responsibility to a researcher process are showcased, as inspiration for institutions setting up a data repository.

If you have written, or know of, an article that you think will be of interest to SUV members, please either comment below or get in contact so it can be added to a future blog post!

ICA-SUV 2017 Conference Summary

Cultural Heritage Materials – University, Research and Folklore Archives in the 21st Century – ICA-SUV 2017 Conference, Riga, Latvia,
William J. Maher (ICA-SUV Chair, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA)

(Image: Conference delegates in front of the Cabinet of Folksongs, National Library of Latvia ©OjarsJansons)

Conference Aims

This conference sought to start a dialogue between folklore archivists and university/research archivists by looking at foundations of cultural heritage materials, practices for born-digital materials, development of new standards for archival description, ways to facilitate respectful stewardship, and ways to engage creator communities. Overall, these topics were to help us rethink how we approach our preservation and cultural heritage mandates.

Conference Context

The conference papers offered case-study experiences illustrating, and sometimes questioning conventional professional theories and standards of practice in both archives and folklore. The papers also provided updates on prospective standards for new descriptive tools, and recently emerging practices and techniques, such as community archiving, and the growing awareness of the need for more respectful curation and especially working to integrate the communities creating records with professional ones.

William J. Maher presenting this summation on day three. ©OjarsJansons


The following reflects what will have been added to my conceptual baggage as I head back to the daily archival grind:

Overall, like many conferences, the papers here illustrate the complexity of moving forward simultaneously on multiple fronts in the management of cultural heritage materials. The presenters and SUV members represent diverse, and thus sometimes divergent, institutions: conventional institutional/organizational archives and subject-themed special collection archives. They also called for those in any of these settings to take on outreach initiatives aimed at documentation/heritage preservation for under-represented minorities or marginalized communities.

If there is a general principle to be drawn from this conference, it should be that we have to be very eclectic in our methodologies and that we have to constantly question and reassess what we are doing, how we are doing it, why we are doing it.

For the SUV, an even larger challenge in how best to serve this divergent audience is the fact that by definition, we operate within the larger ICA, for which cultural heritage work has not been its highest priority. As an organization largely funded and driven by governmental records archives, ICA’s strategic planning and programme initiatives have given priority to institutional records, records management, and justifying the profession in terms of good governance. It is not that governance and accountability are alien to the kinds of cultural archives discussed at this conference, but that initiatives related to the cultural uses and values of records have had difficulty in attracting support when priorities have been records management and open government.

Meanwhile, the substantive work of gathering, preserving, and making available cultural heritage records has been made so much more complex by technology. Today’s records are technologically dependent, time sensitive, and in need of a level of active curatorship that we have never been able to provide with smaller bodies of analog materials. Those same technologies have created user expectations and behaviors that preclude archivists from merely being able to defer action until there is more time or until the mists of history are cleared to allow better sight lines on what is most important. This leaves us trying to stand steady in hurricane force winds and leaves us with little time to re-engineer ourselves along many of the fascinating lines suggested here without risking loss of important missions we are already fulfilling.

We also face a multiplication of professional standards, many of which both aid and complicate our professional work. For example, while Records in Context (RIC) offers assistance and expansion of our mission from mere curation to interpretation of source material, such standards are project-built tools that will require a substantial infrastructure to maintain and revise as well as significant outlays to implement. All this without even considering the challenges of keeping them functional. So while they are important to explore for the value they might be able to provide in specialized areas, it is hard for me to imagine them as all-purpose devices that can solve the myriad other challenges articulated here.

The many different approaches to preserving and making accessible documentary heritage presented at this Riga conference have meaning and value for the institutional contexts in which they have been deployed, and they all deserve the attention of the rest of us for how they might be translated to our archives. However, the diversity of community interests reported here also argues for considerable caution against any one of these approaches to the exclusion of existing conventions. Rather, the broad lessons to be drawn from such approaches as community archiving will be those focused not on their universality but on how they can be integrated with existing practice and how they require us to rethink basic principles to meet differing needs of differing documentary heritages. For example, how might the “corporate” archives a scientific research institute take advantage of community archiving practices to obtain greater participation by the institute’s laboratory scientists?

Most importantly, we always have to be able to discern when it has come time for us to reassess the “why” of what we are doing as stewards of cultural heritage. Only by doing that can we make wise choices about the many options for how we do our work as so well voiced at this conference.

On the process side of things, I think any of us who are conference going veterans will agree that one of the things we will most value about this conference is the synergy that comes from the joining of multiple professions and disciplinary perspectives in one group dealing with related materials and mandates.

The extent to which we may embrace RiC or community archiving, or similar practices, really comes down to the question of the mandate or mission of one’s repository. In that regard, there remains some usefulness of framing our decisions around the traditional dichotomy of institutional archives vs. “manuscript” or special collections. Missions and mandates should not be static but open to evolution. Insofar as they are defined by the constellation of a community at one moment in time, the mission and mandate are candidates for revision at future moments in time, but always indispensable because they are what gives our work grounding and authority.

An enduring truth evident in this conference is that the meaning of an archives and documentary or cultural heritage collection is contextually redefined by both who is doing and who is viewing. In this regard, it is an illusion for us to ever really know what heritage and archives are and what they mean. The implication of this perspective is that we must constantly refine practices borrowing from the past and from other fields that which works, amending those things that do not fit well to present circumstances and discarding those things no longer of optimal use.

Still, past practices and cannons should not be automatically or peremptorily discarded. The fact that those practices no longer seem to apply or do not seem to cover present circumstances should be the start of conversation, not the end. They should not be simply considered as old school detritus but instead noted as lessons in how transient may be the dogmas we embrace today.


Conference delegates on day one outside the National Library of Latvia ©OjarsJansons

The Permafrost Digital Preservation Project (Ontario)

The Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) and Lakehead University
have been working to develop a hosted digital preservation service that
will be available to all universities in Ontario. The service, named
Permafrost, uses Archivematica software hosted on the Ontario Library
Research Cloud. Providing digital preservation as a hosted service reduces
the obligation on individual libraries and archives to develop and
implement their own systems, and makes digital preservation more
accessible to institutions without strong IT support.
We have developed workflows and training material, which can be useful to
participants and others working in digital preservation. With many
technical challenges resolved, the remaining questions are around
arrangement and metadata practices, and privacy and donor needs. Digital
collections lend themselves to item-level metadata, although this level of
detail is not always available or warranted for archival record. Exporting
existing metadata out of legacy systems is also a challenge. We also need
to consider whether one level of security measures will be adequate for
all records stored in the system, and how privacy and security needs can
be indicated in metadata.
The project has been successful so far, with several test collections of
born-digital and digitized materials. Permafrost will be made available to
more institutions by the end of this year, as the pilot with Lakehead
University concludes.