What's New in the ICA - April

Dear STAMAsters,

Below is the April ICA What's New. The web address is:

They are a great way of keeping in touch with what is going at the
International level but distribution at this stage is little hit and miss.
They hope to issue them each month.

Please distribute further to any other folk you may think may be interested.

Cheers ... Gavan 

What's New
in the International Council on Archives (ICA)
April 1997

 About ICA

 The International Council on Archives is the professional organisation
concerned with archives world wide. Its mission is the advancement of
archives through international co-operation. It has over 1,500 members in
168 countries, who include national archive administrations, professional
associations, archive institutions and individual archivists. 

  Funding Priorities

 Raising funds for its world-wide projects is a constant concern for ICA,
and one which is handled by the Programme Support Commission (known as CSP
from its French abbreviation), which met in London last month. One of ICA's
priorities in the 1996-2000 period is to avoid the gap between archive
services in the developed and developing worlds from increasing, and CSP
identified two projects in Africa for action, one on oral sources, the
other on Internet connections for archives. As well as identifying new
sources of funding for future activities, CSP also advises on financial
policies. Recognising that new members bring new funds, the Commission
agreed on the need to publicise ICA's successes as a means of promoting
membership. The new categories of Sustaining and Sponsoring member, which
enable individuals and institutions which support ICA and wish to have a
closer relationship with it to make increased contributions, will be of
especial importance. Twinning arrangements, already used between archives
in Western and Eastern Europe, may also be extended to archives in the
developing world. 

  Preservation in Africa

 A joint initiative on Africa by ICA and IFLA, the equivalent body for the
library world, has secured generous funding from the Danish aid
organisation DANIDA. A total of USD 150,000 has been awarded to the Joint
ICA-IFLA Committee for Preservation in Africa for training projects,
including a series of regional seminars for the different language groups.
The emphasis will be on using African trainers and techniques to tackle
African preservation problems. This type of "south-south" co-operation is
often more effective than north-south initiatives and is likely to grow in
importance in the future. This Committee, which is one of the results of an
earlier pan-African initiative on library and archive preservation, brings
together librarians, archivists and conservation specialists from all
regions and language groups in the continent. 

  The Value of Archives

 Archives are usually seen as having an evidential and an informational
value. Less well known is their scientific value and in particular the
light they can throw on the environment. This is the subject of ARCHISS,
the project to search archives for data relevant to climate history.
Meteorologists and climatologists are interested in tracing the patterns of
past weather in order to see whether the global warming of the last few
years is a new phenomenon, or just part of the normal cycles in the earth's
climate. The aim of ARCHISS is to extend knowledge of world climate history
from archive sources, particularly those that contain "proxy data", for
example documents recording unusual weather events, poor harvests and so
on. Attention has recently focused on archives on Central and South
America, which may hold the key to a better understanding of an important
climatic movement known as ENSO, or El Niņo Southern Oscillation. This
refers to changes in the prevailing wind patterns on the west coast of
South America which appear to have profound effects on global climate. So
far, successful searches have been carried out in the national archives in
Mexico and Cuba, and further work is planned in Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and
Chile. A full report on the project is available from the Secretariat and
there will be an article in a forthcoming issue of the ICA Bulletin.
ARCHISS is a joint venture of ICA, the World Meteorological Organisation
and UNESCO's Division of Water Sciences. 

  Archives and Accountability

 It is the evidential value of archives, particularly their role in
promoting democracy and sound administration, that is of prime importance
in another ICA project. The London-based International Records Management
Trust (IRMT) has, over the past 2 years, developed a project on the
management of public sector records for UK Commonwealth countries. The
emphasis has been on the value of records management systems to ensure
accountability. A contract has just been signed by ICA with the United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which provides assistance to the
project developed by IRMT. Under the contract, training modules in records
and archives management will be produced, as well as a 30 minute awareness
video film. There will also be visits and consultative meetings in
different areas of the world and the preparation of a global strategy
outline for archival records management development. The project will be
implemented by IRMT with the support and co-operation of ICA. 

  InfoEthics Discussion

 The InfoEthics group, which is using the Internet to discuss ethical and
legal aspects of access to information in archives, is now hard at work. It
is very international: in addition to Europe and the USA, Mexico, South
Africa and Australia are represented, along with China, Indonesia, Malaysia
and the Philippines and, from Eastern Europe, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
A report will be prepared for UNESCO, who are funding the project. Anyone
interested in knowing more can consult the supporting documents, which are
available on the ICA Website at http://www.archives.ca/ica/infoethics/ or
by post from the Secretariat. 

  Edinburgh Round Table

 Access to information is also on the agenda for the September Round Table
conference, to be held in Edinburgh. This is an invitational conference for
heads of national archives and professional associations, and the chairs of
ICA's Sections. It is held annually in the years between Congresses and
attracts around 150 delegates from over 60 countries. 

  Regional Branches

 A number of ICA's regional branches have announced regional conferences
during 1997, including the Southern and Eastern African Branch, ESARBICA,
which will meet in Pretoria in August, the Southwest Asian Branch SWARBICA
which will meet in Tehran, and the Pacific Regional Branch which will meet
in New Caledonia. The regional branches provide a focus for members in
these areas and their conferences, held every 2 or 3 years, are a great
opportunity for professional discussions and exchange of ideas and


 Communications are vital to an international organisation and the creation
of a communications strategy was high on the agenda of COM, ICA's body on
publications and professional promotion, which met last month in Turin. The
strategy, involving a restructuring of publications, the development of an
outreach programme in languages other than English and French, and the
production of a public awareness campaign, will be presented to the ICA
Executive Committee at its next meeting. 

  About this Article

 What's New is a short summary of recent events in ICA. It is distributed
monthly through associations and individual contacts in over 60 countries
as well as on a number of listserves and is translated into several

  For further information, contact:

Deputy Secretary General, 
ICA Scottish Record Office 
H M General Register House 
Edinburgh EH1 3YY 
United Kingdom 
Tel (direct) +44 131 535 1313 Fax +44 131 535 1360 
e-mail : george_mackenzie@compuserve.com 


Philippe CHARON 
Directeur du programme professionnel du CIA 
Conseil international des archives 
60 rue des Francs-Bourgeois 
75003 Paris France 
Tel Direct +33 1 40 27 61 10 Fax: +331 42 72 20 65 
e-mail : : 100640.54@compuserve.com 

*   Gavan McCarthy - Director                          
*    Australian Science Archives Project                         
*     University of Melbourne                                         
*       203 Bouverie Street
*        Carlton, Vic. 3053 Australia                                  
*         gavan@asap.unimelb.edu.au                             
*          Phone: +61 3 9344 9287 Fax: +61 3 9349 4630
*           ASAPWeb! on http://www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/          
* ------->Recovering Science and Technology in Australia