Posts Tagged digital documents

UNESCO/UBC Vancouver Memory of the World Declaration

At last month’s conference, “Memory of the World in the Digital Age: Digitization and Preservation”, a declaration was adopted addressing the challenge of digital amnesia.  The four page document, made available on UNESCO’s website last week, is an extension of a principle in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  That is, each individual should be guaranteed access to information, including in digital format, and that national policies should be established to promote the right to information, open government and open data.

Also highlighted during the conference and its consequent declaration was the growing importance of industry in digitization and digital preservation among trusted digital repositories.  The conference declaration adopted a call on industry to ensure long-term accessibility to trustworthy information contained in legacy formats.  It further encouraged professional associations work with industry for the development of requirements of systems that embed preservation concern and assist in the development of a cohesive and practical vision of the way forward in addressing the management and preservation of trustworthy recorded information in all its forms in the digital environment.

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Segregation Era Documents Project

A project is underway to preserve African-American history in the state of Virginia.  The Desegregation of Virginia Education (DOVE) project, spearheaded by Old Dominion University archivist, Sonia Yaco, is enlisting help from the public in collecting historical material such as oral histories and photographs.  An article from a local paper in Richmond, Virginia, claims that civil rights history in the state has largely been neglected in schools across the state…

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Interested in Archiving Human Rights for Advocacy, Justice & Memory?

Join WITNESS and New Tactics for an online dialogue on Archiving Human Rights for Advocacy, Justice and Memory from May 16 to 22, 2012. 

New Tactics and WITNESS have invited Archivists Watch to participate in this dialogue.  The invitation is extended to anyone interested to the topic and I urge you to observe and join in to enrich the conversation.

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The Iraq Memory Foundation, Baath Party Archive & Wartime Plundering of Cultural Property

University of Colorado professor, Bruce P. Montgomery shares with AW a revealing journal publication he has authored.  It is an excellent study on the question of territorial provenance, ownership, and custody.  In it Montgomery looks in depth at the unique dynamics between the Iraq Memory Foundation (IMF), the US military, and the long-held contentious cultural property of Iraq in the hands of private US institutions.  Cultural property in the form of the former Iraqi government’s archives, the Baath Party Archive, normally fall into a category of state records that should be opened to citizens “‘in service of transitional justice, national reconciliation, and democratization'” as seen with the former Stasi regime archive, the Tuol Sleng Archives, inter alia.

Montgomery purports that through the extenuating circumstances of wartime Iraq in 2003 (as the emergence of civilian defense contractors under the US military like the IMF) and through a lack of legal frameworks, the IMF was able to evade direct contraventions to existing international laws and conventions that define cultural property theft or pillaging when the group transferred records out of Iraq.  Montgomery reveals that the legal status of contractors can be considered ambiguous at best because they ostensibly operated outside legal mechanisms. He presents arguments that the IMF, in the backdrop of this largely chaotic and tumultuous period for Iraqi citizens and the Hussein government, was able to leverage the situation to their advantage, circumventing legal protocols to transfer the Iraqi documents.  Consequently, the archives are not accessible to the citizens who could benefit from its use.  Thus, the circumstances surrounding the current fate of the archives has also been a barrier to legitimizing straightforward accusations of wartime pillaging of records.

Montgomery also traces the actions of various cultural and national institutions, non-government groups, and key officials in securing the country’s archives and the laws ensuring its possession.  He also outlines relevant international laws and conventions alongside the case – the Hague, Geneva, and UN conventions…

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2012 UNESCO Conference on Digital Preservation – Call for Papers

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the UNESCO Memory of the World Program, UNESCO, in collaboration with the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies and the University Library of the University of British Columbia (UBC), is holding an international conference on “The Memory of the World in the Digital Age:  Digitization and Preservation” on September 26-28, 2012 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  This event is also being held in partnership with ICA, IFLA, IASA, ICOM, WIPO, Google, Microsoft and others. UBC has put out a call for conference papers.

(This announcement comes from UBC archival studies professor, Dr. Luciana Duranti)

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Saddam’s Regime in Hoover Institution Archive

Hoover Institution photo from Baath Party officesThe Hoover Institution’s collection on the Baath Party, which arrived at Stanford in 2008, includes nearly 11 million digitized pages and 108 video files.  Hoover holdings on Iraq comprise 15 collections, of which the Baath Party collection is the largest.  Standford University News claims that “it may be the largest publicly accessible archive of documents collected from an authoritarian regime.”

The documents at Standford have given researchers and historians an unprecedented view of the inside workings of an authoritarian regime – and how the Baath Party became a bloated bureaucracy, fed by an unending atmosphere of war.  Scholars and journalists alike have used the documents in divergent and ways to shed some insights on the former regime…

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Contrast this reading with a 2008 New York Times article that highlights the political importance of controlling former regime archives.  In the New York Times piece, some Iraqi officials and members of the Society of American Archivists along with the Association of Canadian Archivists, deplored the ostensible rescue of these millions of Iraqi papers.

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The 2nd International Conference on African Digital Libraries and Archives

ICADLA-2The ICADLA-2 is being held in Johannesburg, South Africa this fall on November 14th to the 18th as a workshop and conference event.  The theme of this year’s conference is Developing Knowledge for Economic Advancement in Africa.  

The conference organizers invite participants from all African countries, private and public international development organisations, and other countries aiding Africa.  This is a great professional and networking opportunity if you or your organization are interested in capacity development of digitisation projects.  It is a chance to explore and share knowledge in the area of digital resource creation and delivery, digitisation infrastructure, access and preservation of digital resources, and the creation of digital libraries in the African context.

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