CITRA day 1 – 18th November afternoon

Plenary session 2 addressed “training and education: what have we got and what is needed?”  Simon Chu described a recent EASTICA program leading to the provision of academically-recognised qualifications for Asian archivists.  The programme aimed to address a situation described (partly tongue in cheek) as “a profession corrupted by non-professionals”.  Running for 6 years so far and drawing students from a wide range of Asian countries, the programme has successfully provided a place to share ideas/practical experiences and improved professional identity & community. 

Maria Teresa Bermudez then provided a short survey of the Variety of levels, programmes and providers of archival training internationally.  She then considered the specific case of Costa Rica which is currently undergoing a radical review of both the curriculum and pedagogical methods.  In common with other countries she identified a gap between the needs of the workplace and the content of the courses, and also the tensions over a generalist or specialist education in recordkeeping (ie whether recordkeeping is part of broader information science curriculum) and over the balance of theory and practice – picking up on points touched on by Kutuu in parallel session 3.

These two papers from the educators’ perspective were followed by Ineke Deserno who considered the student perspective on the archival education programmes in Europe.  A brief survey of the current offerings and the state of archival education was followed by a look forward.  Deserno acknowledged the difficulty in comparing provision across and within different countries but was able to identify some common gaps commonly perceived by recent students: that the courses were not preparing them for the digital/globalised society [how realistic is this given one of the few constants is change?]; lack of coverage of digital records; that courses were not practical enough/too theoretical; lack of co-operation with other disciplines.  Deserno concluded with a range of practical suggestions to contribute to improving the situation, such as international collaboration, use of technology, collaboration with professional associations and fora for networking and the exchange of information at an international level.

On this occasion there was extensive opportunity for questions and discussion.  The points raised included the need for training and professional development of the archival educators; positive and negative views of distance learning; and whether archivists have a responsibility for training other professionals who create and rely on records (eg. legal, business administration, auditors).

Parallel session 5 considered the role of Associations in professional development.  The first paper would have been delivered by Aly Adama Pam of Senegal, but Henri Zuber summarised in his absence the development of the Senegalese Association of Librarians Archivists and Records Managers and its practical work to develp and support professionals despite a lack of material resources.  Zuber also provided summary translation in English and French of the other speakers’ papers.

Christine Martinez then presented the wide range of activity carried out by the Association des Archivistes francais on professional development, ranging from the development of a competency model, to delivering training, to advocacy and collaboration both within the profession itself and with allied professions. She also set out the agenda for the future, including the promotion of continuing professional development as a concept and developing further support mechanisms such as a mentoring programme and electronic learning resources, as well as partnerships with centres for the assessment for competence.

The final paper from Joan Antoni Jimenez of the Association of Catalan Archivists described recent developments in Catalan archive education and changes to the professional structures and relationships.  He touched briefly on the re-evaluation of the relationship between historic archives and modern/current records management, and on the work of the Catalan Association with community groups and social initiatives in researching historical memory and reintegrating private/oral archives relating to civil war.  There was little time to explore the impact of such work on the profession, as Oke’s paper in parallel session 3 had begun to do.  Nonetheless, it was clear from his paper that for a small association of 800 members the Catalan association has an enviably high profile with government and a dynamic approach to a range of important activity as a professional body.

Day 1 could be summarised as following the broad themes of

  • the changing/challenging environment and the need to adapt what is currently done;
  • the difficult but necessary balance to strike between practical/practice-based education & training and theoretical principles & reflection;
  • the role of professional development beyond initial education (and not restricted to training) implicit in many of the papers and comments;
  • entry to and accessibility of the profession (both in terms of financial resources as well as attitudes to diversity);
  • the important role of recordkeeping activity and concerns beyond the national archival institutions, beyond the profession, and beyond the acquisition function – dialogue with and concern for users, both producers and consumers.
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