Archeion Coordinator's report from ACA 2012

11 Jul 2012 10:50 PM | Danielle Robichaud

The Association of Canadian Archivists' annual conference was held in Whitehorse this year and I was lucky enough to be able to take part.

The conference keynote was given by Ken Coates, Professor of History at the University of Waterloo. His theme was the lack of historical awareness among Canadians and he called upon historians and archivists to do a better job of popularizing history and explaining our role in making it accessible.

The conference was packed with interesting sessions (see the programme [PDF]) several of which were shared by an active contingent of Twitter users (you can see the nearly 1,500 tweets which came out of the conference as a whole in this Google spreadsheet).

As Archeion Coordinator, some of the sessions that were of most relevance to me were those covering digital infrastructure and digital preservation activities. One of the sessions focused on the development of a Trusted Digital Repository for Canadian institutions, with the suggestion that a membership organization might be the best way of achieving such a system, given doubts over the future of Library and Archives Canada's ability to lead the community in creating one. Provincial and territorial archives bodies could have a key role to play in this area in the future.

I took part in the session that described the experiences of the provincial networks who have moved their old databases over to use the ICA-AtoM platform. After hearing from British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, Peter Van Garderen of Artefactual Systems talked about future plans for the software. These include the ability to refine searches by 'facets' such as repository, subject and place, and also for individual institutions to be able to create a more personalized view of their repository's descriptions within multi-repository instances of AtoM (as the software will be known in future). The new version of ArchivesCanada will use AtoM and is it is due to be launched in September 2012.

On the Friday of the conference we heard from Cecilia Muir, Chief Operating Officer of Library and Archives Canada. Ms. Muir made it clear that the funding for the National Archival Development Program was over and that digitization priorities for LAC in the future would be determined by the requirements of government commemoration programs. She said that this could also be a source of funding for other archives.

Thanks to the AAO for funding my trip to Whitehorse: it's certainly an interesting time to be working in archives!

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