Impressions and Expectations from the 16th ICA Congress
After the Opening Ceremonies, Flying Reporters, Violette Rouchy-Levy and April Miller asked several participants three questions about the Congress. The participants were:
• Genevieve Etienne, Direction des Archives de France
• Setareki Tale, PARBICA President, National Archivist of Fiji
• Abel Caine, Samoa
• Opeta Alefaio, Fiji
• Agneta S. B. Akhaabi, Kenya National Archives and Documentation Service
• Kelebogile P. Kgabi, Botswana National Archives and Records Service
1. What do you think about the 16th ICA Congress being held in Kuala Lumpur, which is only the second time the Congress has been held in Asia? Que vous inspire la tenue du 16e Congres de l’ICA a Kuala Lumpur, pour la deuxieme fois en Asie ?
Genevieve : Il me semble tres important que le Congres ait lieu a Kuala Lumpur : la Malaisie fait en effet partie de ces nombreux pays qui ont besoin de formation et de rencontres entre professionnels. J’avais déjà ressenti cette soif de reconnaissance de l’archivistique, en Chine, lors du Congres de Pekin en 1996. J’ajouterai que la tenue du Congres a Kuala Lumpur permet sans doute aux pays d’Oceanie d’y participer.
Kelebogile: Archival institutions are starting to make an impact on organizations and others, because our holdings are important in helping those organizations achieve their goals and mandates. We need to have records for the sake of good governance, and so that we can make good decisions and plan for the future. Archives in Malaysia will really feel that they can have a positive impact of the development of the nation.
Agneta: This Congress will have a significant impact on the people of Malaysia. The Congress will be a way of publicizing the importance of records to all kinds of people like politicians and ordinary citizens. Also, the Congress publicizes the importance of the archives profession in Malaysia as well. Through this Congress, the people of Malaysia will have a greater awareness of their ability to access their own history through archives. We can also learn from what the archives profession is doing in Malaysia. In fact, in yesterday’s electronic records workshop we learned that archivists in Malaysia are already very far in their work on this topic.
2. What distinguishes this ICA Congress from other archives and records conferences? Quelle difference faites-vous entre ce Congres de l’ICA et les autres conferences concernant les archives ?
Genevieve : Son theme est certes tres general, mais le titre est tres bien choisi : il evoque la bonne gestion des archives, qu’il n’est pas inutile de rappeler. Il me parait aussi plus que jamais indispensable que nous evoluions vers des normes qui soient les memes pour tous, partout dans le monde, et le Congres peut y contribuer ; il est necessaire que les pays echangent leurs connaissances.
Kelebogile: Because the Congress only occurs every four years, it attracts a large number of people, and there are many sessions that run at one time – it truly is an education forum for archivists. It provides an opportunity for members to be engaged in professional discussions, and to learn and to grow. With so many sessions available at the Congress with expert speakers, attendants are able to choose from a wide variety of subject areas and specializations, and this is really positive because we all work in different areas, and we are also at different levels of professional development. This ICA Congress has a unique focus on governance, and this is particularly relevant in my country’s situation.
Agneta: We can learn about how things are done in other countries. The ICA Congress gives you so much exposure to how other institutions are doing the work of archives, and how they are taking archival materials to the people. You attend the ICA sessions and you get many ideas, which you can take home and try to implement. We can take these ideas home and show to our ministries and government that we are pursuing activities that are in-line with how other archival institutions around the world do them.
3. What kinds of expectations to do you have of the ICA Congress? What do you want to take back with you to your home country? Quelles sont vos attentes pour le Congres de l’ICA ? Quelles connaissances aimeriez-vous rapporter en France ?
Genevieve : Je suis venue afin de suivre les dossiers dont je m’occupe a l’Inspection generale. Je cherche en particulier a promouvoir la creation au sein de l’ICA d’une section consacree aux archives des notaires, qui ne sont pas dans tous les pays collectees de facon satisfaisante comme des archives publiques. Par ailleurs, je m’occupe du portail Archives Canada France, un sujet sur lequel j’ai déjà eu l’occasion de discuter avec mon collegue canadien. Je suivrai sans doute aussi certaines sessions sur les batiments d’archives et sur la numerisation.
Kele: I hope to get many new ideas about how a heritage institution like archives can start to come out of its cocoon, so that it can be seen as valuable to the people, and as an organization that provides information. I also want to learn from sessions that give information about collaborating with other heritage and information organizations and professions such as libraries, museums and information technology specialists. Political leadership for archives and governance are also areas that I hope to understand better at the end of the Congress.
Agneta: I really hope to make additional contacts, and since this is my first ICA Congress I’m just so happy to be here and to be able to participate in the international community. Making contacts with other archives and archivists will help to direct my organization’s work to promote the country’s documentary heritage. You can really transform your organization just by meeting people and making contacts.