Today the Latin American Association of Archives-International Council on Archives (ALA-ICA) conference wrapped another successful and informative program. The conference ran from November 27-29 in Mexico City, Mexico. This was the first time that a Latin America country was the host.
The ICA Annual Conference is dedicated to a specific subject in the field of archival science. It consists of several plenary sessions, simultaneous panels, workshops and lectures, in which new initiatives and approaches are presented, discussed and developed, with the participation of about 800 attendees (mainly academics, archivists, computer scientists and public institution officials) from 70 countries.
This year’s theme was “archives, citizenship and interculturalism.” This theme included topics such as:
- Interculturalism and native cultures
- Human rights
- Regional cooperation
- Illicit trafficking of documentary heritage
- Archives and artistic creation
- Archives, environment and natural disasters
I was honored and privileged to be part of the “archives, environment and natural disasters” topic. On Tuesday, November 28, the ICA Expert Group of Emergency Management and Disaster Preparedness which I serve ran a half-day workshop on disaster preparedness. We had participants from all over the world including Ghana, Puerto Rico, Mexico, France, Korea to name a few. The workshop went really well and the participants received many useful ideas on how to be prepared for a disaster.
On Wednesday, November 29, I had the honor of chairing a very interesting panel session titled, “Functionality of Damaged Archives After a Disaster.” Three speakers gave intriguing and informative talks about how they creatively and resourcefully salvaged their material after a disaster. The panel included Masaru Kumagai who is the Chief Curator at the Rikuzentakata City Museum in Japan, Cao Jiania who is Deputy Division Chief at the Department of Technology in China, and Emilie Leumas who is the Director of Archives and Records Management of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, USA. A lively discussion followed after the speakers presented their papers.
Although the Pacific Regional Branch International Council on Archives (PARBICA) did not have many members in attendance at this conference, we certainly had a strong presence nevertheless. I am pleased to report that PARBICA was mentioned on several occasions during the conference. To my surprise at one of the sessions a speaker from the Caribbean mentioned PARBICA and how they are currently working on disaster preparedness modules for their toolkit. I have to admit this woke me up and I was excited to learn that another ICA region was eagerly anticipating the release of our modules.
Another unexpected and fantastic moment happened during the Fund for International Development of Archives (FIDA) presentation. Not only was our project at the Tuvalu National Library and Archives highlighted with photos, PARBICA’s Self Assessment Checklist was given kudos and recommended for anyone to use to see whether or not funding through FIDA would be appropriate. That was pretty awesome! Thumbs up to PARBICA!
Next year’s conference will be held in Yaounde, Cameroon and I have a feeling that PARBICA will be just as influential as it has been at recent ICA conferences.