CITRA day 2 – November 19th afternoon

The afternoon of day 2 began with plenary session 4 “Archival education: our vision for the 21st century”.  Three recently graduated professionals considered archival education from the perspective of the “digital native”.  Noel D’Anastas first described the very recent experience of Malta through the co-operation of the National Archives and the National University which established a diploma in archives and records management from which the first students graduated in 2007.  30% have now gone on to postgraduate degrees at overseas Universities.  D’Anastas concluded with some suggestions for extending the content of the course and improving the Maltese archival landscape.

Anne Bast and Christophe Jacobs gave a joint presentation in English and French which through its imaginative use of technology and exemplification of international collaboration gave a practical illustration of the current 21st century archivist.  During their presentation they showed a film by B Nesbitt on digital learners, to illustrate the demands and needs of the current generation of children among whom the recordkeepers of tomorrow will be found.  They explored adaptability as a concept framing archival education – including for the future users of archives (accessing/repurposing material) – whilst re-stating the fundamental principles which provide a framework and a basis for dealing with changing formats and technology.  Adaptability, competencies, emerging jobs (titles which don’t include “archivist”), and professional mobility balanced with specialisation were the chief concepts explored from the perspective of newly qualified professionals.

The presentation concluded with a look at the recent advertisement for the Grateful Dead Archivist, which picked up on media/external perspectives on the profession.  This led into a wish-list for an archival education: historically rooted, networked/collaborative at a range of levels, linked to professional associations, strong knowledge of institutional actors (creators, users), with components of a practical nature from the technical to the information technical to managerial/general skills, and forward-thinking & strategic.

Discussion followed on searching and accessibility in the future, and the impact of technology on our audiences and their expectations of un-mediated access; sustainability and the use of technological tools such as the semantic web and metadata mark-up; the division between practice and research; the use of social networking tools and issues of loss of professional control in “allowing” such tools to be used; pre-requisites for archival education and levels of education – what comes before and where can you begin.

The conference concluded for me with parallel session 12, a round table on mentoring considering the possibilities offered by mentoring (in the widest sense of the term) for recordkeeping professionals.  Marian Hoy of Australia began by outlining the concepts associated with mentoring, the people who be involved and the types of learning that mentoring can provide.  We then paused the papers to obtain initial thoughts (on post-its) from the session attendees on mentoring.  I then spoke about mentoring in the context of the Society of ARchivists’ UK & Ireland Registration scheme, and presented an ideal model of mentoring provided by David Clutterbuck.

Sara Naeslund analysed the recent Swedish experience of providing a mentoring programme, with insights into the practical arrangements which have helped to make the programme successful both for the mentees and the mentors involved.  The lessons learned which Sara presented were chiefly that it is possible to run a mentoring programme with small financial resources, but that the input of a external facilitator experienced in mentoring is significantly particularly in providing a starting conference for the participants in the annual programme, and that the age and years of experience are in many cases less important to the mentoring relationship and its participants.

These were all themes taken up by Jussi Nuorteva who outlined a proposed European-level mentoring scheme, which led into questions and discussion with the other attendees.  This was wide-ranging, covering the overlap between coaching and mentoring, and networking and mentoring; the involvement of organisations and whether the mentor and mentee could be from within the same organisation; the skills and expectations of a mentor, and how to/whether to evaluate or to regulate these;.  Reference was made to the ICA’s Section on Professional Associations (SPA) guidelines for associations on running a mentoring scheme (available from the ICA website).

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