International Archives Day Conference June 9, 2020
Digital Transformation: Looking at Archives from Multiple Angles
Did you know that the 9th of June is the International Archives Day? On June 9, 1948 the International Council of Archives (ICA) was founded under the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In 2004, at the International Congress held in Vienna participants requested the United States to create an “International Archives Day” to raise awareness about the importance of archives. In 2007, ICA decided to establish an “International Archives Day” to promote all kind of archives around the world. Since then archivists have been celebrating the International Archives Day and organizing various events related to archives during the week of June 9.
As Koç University Libraries we have also been organizing events on this day. However, this year has been particularly challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, with the lockdown, all the libraries of the university closed, and all teams started to work from home. Under such conditions, however, conventional methods of conference organization became impossible. So, we altered our approach and tried to benefit from perhaps the only positive aspect of the lockdowns, which was the surge and increased utilization of online events.
After our transition to working online, our activities could easily move beyond the borders of Istanbul and host speakers from different cities across Turkey and even from abroad. This gave us the opportunity to make our conference theme more diverse and inclusive of different topics related to archives and especially digital archives.
So, we brainstormed about the different viewpoints on archives. Who are the potential shareholders, users, donors or critics of archives? How does a professor in an Information Studies department view recent technological change in archives? How does a donor decide to donate an archive to a collection? How does a curator proceed to view and present an archive? How is an archive processed by an archivist? What are the key legal aspects to be considered in the digitalization and online access of archives? In the end, we were pleased to find top specialists to discuss these questions.
The conference was divided into three sessions. In the first session, academics from the UK and Turkey, Dr. Jenny Bunn and Dr. Lale Özdemir Şahin presented their views about developments in the archival profession and its education in the context of digital transformation. In the second session Prof. Dr. Ayşe Nur Ökten shared her experience as a donor, explaining the process of donating her parents’ lifetime work, the Cahide and Hadi Taner Collection to Koç University Suna Kıraç Library. This was followed by archivists from the Koç University Digital Collections, Mustafa Ergül, Duygu Kevser Ülger and Senem Acar who presented on the evaluation process of archives, various aspects of city archives and the analysis of user behaviours, respectively.
The third and final session of the conference focused on the user and important legal aspects of archives. Sumru Belger Krody from the US presented the significance of scientific archives in museum collections and shared with us her experience of curating the Josephine Powell Slides Collection in the Koç University Suna Kıraç Library. Finally, lawyer M. Hakan Eriş analysed the important legal points to be considered prior to making a collection accessible to users online.
Overall, the conference was a significant success! It demonstrated how an event on archives could serve as a meeting ground for such a diversity of subjects! As an online event the conference managed to reach out to hundreds of people from 10 different countries around the globe!
N. Defne Gier
ANAMED Library Branch Librarian