San José State University School of Information professors and graduate students are creating the first International Directory of National Archives to serve as a single source of information about 196 national archives around the world.
Drs. Patricia Franks and Anthony Bernier are leading a team of 50 students and alumni who are gathering data and writing entries for the 193 countries that are members of the United Nations, as well as the Holy See, the state of Palestine, and Taiwan.
Franks said the idea came about in a conversation with Charles Harmon, executive editor for Library and Information Science, Archival and Museum Studies for Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.
“I mentioned that a work providing a glimpse into the status of national archives worldwide at one point in time would be of value to researchers as well as students of history and archives. It would also provide a benchmark to be used to gauge progress in the future. He agreed. As a former member of the iSchool's International Advisory Council, Mr. Harmon immediately suggested that the project would be a very good way to get our students involved,” she said.
After discussing the feasibility of the project with Bernier, a proposal was submitted to the publisher and approved. Each national archives profile will contain contact information, a brief history of the archives, and a description of the archives today. A spotlight on a valued collection or an important event will also be included in the directory.
Scheduled for publication in 2018, the International Directory of National Archives will be used as a resource by historians, researchers, and archivists with an interest in learning how nations protect their cultural heritage and make that information accessible to the world.
Recent graduate Svetlana Ushakova said the project relates closely to her educational background and career path in librarianship. She has a PhD in Russian history and extensive experience of research in Russian archives. In addition to the entry on Russia, she contributed entries on the national archives of eight other countries from the former Soviet Union: Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Uzbekistan.
“My knowledge of Russian was an important asset for this project, even though at least half of these countries do not have websites in Russian,” she said. “Even more important was my knowledge of the history and realities of these countries. At the same time, my participation in the project helped me to look at archives as an archivist, not as a researcher.”
Ushakova said her participation in the project was an excellent exercise in creating reference sources she believes she will find useful in her career.
Student participant Pamela Lutzker said her love for gathering historical materials and information and her affinity for electronic recordkeeping and analysis helped her when she served as the project coordinator during the fall 2016 semester. Lutzker is enrolled in the iSchool’s Master of Archives and Records Administration online degree program and earned credit for the INFO 298 Special Studies course.
“I was very excited when I heard about the IDNA,” she said. “I noticed that more and more archives are putting their information online and thought the directory would be a great resource for anyone doing research. The largest and most well-known archives are already online, but many of the less-well-known national archives don’t have the resources to promote their holdings.”
Lutzker believes the directory will be a tremendous resource and asset to the archives field. “Archives with fewer resources will have their successes and needs put forward in an international venue, and researchers will have a place to find out what they need to gain access to materials,” she said.
Before graduating from the iSchool’s Master of Library and Information Science online degree program in December 2016, Inna Gogina completed four IDNA entries last semester: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Ukraine. In her work, she learned about the history of the national archives, the core functions of the national archives agencies, their physical and digital makeup, and the services they provide to the public and the governments of the respective countries. She also wrote a blog dedicated to the State Archival Service of her home country of Ukraine.
“A native ability to speak Ukrainian and Russian has been a helpful tool in my quest for the most up-to-date information about the archives for the IDNA entry,” she said. “It allowed me to access the information not only on the official agency website but also in the online mass media and other publications describing the archives in Russian and Ukrainian languages.”
For more information about the directory, visit the project website.