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IAW2023: Updates from the Archives Association of British Columbia

5 Jun 2023 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

In celebration of the International Archives Week theme “#ArchivesUnited,” the ACA Public Awareness and Advocacy Committee has coordinated with Canadian professional archival associations to present a special series of blog posts. This series will run on the ACA blog, In the Field, from June 5-9 and aims to uplift the work of our colleagues across Canada by showcasing new initiatives, providing transparent solutions to key issues, and identifying exciting opportunities for collaboration.

This past year has been a challenging and exciting time for the AABC. From managing MemoryBC to developing Disaster Response Kits and conducting site visits for archives across the province, the AABC continued its key initiatives and developed new ones. Reflecting on this year’s International Archives Awareness Week theme #ArchivesUnited, collaborating with those within and outside of the archival profession has been essential to the ongoing work of the AABC.

At the end of April, the AABC hosted a hybrid conference in collaboration with ARMA VI on the topic of "Access Ability: Exploring Themes of Access in Archives and Information Management." It was exciting having an opportunity to gather virtually and in-person for a full day of wonderful presentations. For more information on the conference, including links to presentation slides, see the AABC website.

Throughout the year, a core piece of the AABC’s advocacy and outreach efforts is educational programming. In the past year, the AABC ran three distance education courses: Introduction to Archival Practice, Managing Archival Photographs, and Managing Plans and Drawings. Over the past year the AABC also offered courses by outside experts on copyright and describing electronic records. In addition, the AABC continued hosting online webinars on a variety of topics meant to help support daily work in archival settings, including: “Archives 101 for Summer Students,” “Creating Archival Exhibits,” and “A+ Teaching with Primary Sources from the Archives.”

Thanks to grant funding from the BC Arts Council, the AABC was also able to teach two offerings of the “Archives 101: Archival Practice for Indigenous Organizations” workshop. This workshop was attended by 61 participants representing 28 different Indigenous communities and organizations throughout BC and from across Canada. This workshop has an organic foundation and is continually being updated and revised each time it is offered as workshop content is developed based on discussions with community knowledge keepers and pre/post-workshop surveys that identify training priorities, questions, and issues that participants are managing.

The AABC also continued hosting “Roundteas,” free online gatherings to talk about emerging archival issues and learn about different types of archival collections that are managed by Archivists throughout the province. The informal roundtable format is a participatory discussion meant to mimic getting a tea or other beverage with colleagues. Recordings of some Roundteas are available on the AABC website. Recent topics include: “Artist Archives From A to Z” and “Nursing Archives in BC.” 

In British Columbia, the provincial Archives Awareness Week (AAW) runs the third week of November. Last year, the AABC offered a week of virtual programming, including a collaborative film screening and Q&A with the filmmakers and film participants of Unarchived with the ACA’s Public Advocacy and Awareness Committee. Additional AAW events included an Indigenous Archives Forum and a student networking session.

Archives Awareness Week was also an opportunity to bring together archivists from across the province to an engagement session with the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation (MIRR) and the UBC Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC). MIRR, the IRSHDC, and the BC Archives are supporting Indigenous communities across the province as they lead the way to locate, document, and protect burial sites associated with former Indian Residential Schools and Indian Hospitals in BC. With the goal of supporting connections between communities and local archives, this session included a discussion of potential research barriers and challenges, as well as considerations of how archives in BC and Indigenous communities can work collaboratively to locate, access and transfer Residential School records. The IRSHDC is working with MIRR, to create lists of repositories (archives, libraries, museums, and other organizations) that hold records related to each school. The IRSHDC is looking to collaborate with archives, libraries, museums and other repositories to enhance these lists. More information about contributing to this important work and a recording of the engagement session is available here.

None of this would have been possible without the AABC’s British Columbia Archival Education and Advisory Service Coordinator, Lisa Glandt; British Columbia Archival Network Service Coordinator, Lisa Snider; Financial Manager, Angela Brain; and the amazing network of AABC volunteers. As we’re sure many can relate to, the AABC is navigating the constraints of limited resources and capacity, but through it all we are bolstered by the dedication of our tireless contractors and volunteers. Moving forward, the AABC looks forward to continuing our programming and outreach efforts and welcomes the opportunity to partner with archival workers and organizations from across the country.

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