Trip to the ARA Conference 2013

Recently the three archivists on the project attended a day of the Archives and Records Association annual conference in Cardiff, which had the theme of ‘Accountability, Culture & Ethics’.

The key note speaker was Dr Jones Lukose Ongalo, Head of Records and Archives at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Born in the digital era in 2002 the ICC functions as an ‘eCourt’ where evidence, including objects, is digitised to be accessed electronically during trials. Ongalo spoke about how the changing role of records and archives management in this digital culture, with particular relation to the questions of preservation and accountability, a topic which is extremely relevant to archives today facing the advent  of managing ‘born digital’ records.

ARA Conference 2013

One particular talk that stood out was that of Michael Jones, Senior Research Archivist with the University of Melbourne’s eScholarship Research Centre. Jones introduced the web resource Find&Connect, which helps Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants find out about their past by bringing together resources about Australian institutional care. Find&Connect are extremely user focused and are utilising user testing as means to create a web interface that is easy to navigate. This focus made me stop and think about our own websites at MERL. Hopefully users find our new A-Z pages helpful in creating access to our collections and I would be interested to hear people’s thoughts.

Overall it was an exciting day and we all came away with lots to think about. It reminded us of the importance of archives as evidence in the accountability of organisations, and our own ethical responsibilities as the people that manage these records to ensure they are available for generations to come.