9 June – International Archives Day

Today archives are being celebrated around the globe. With many libraries hosting archives, and carrying out archival activities, this is an opportunity to recognise the importance of archivists, in whatever type of institution they work.

IFLA therefore congratulates not only all the great national archives, but also all the local and independent community archives run by volunteers. Because the importance of keeping a record of the present for the benefit of the future is not only important at the level of governments or major companies.

At the local level, archives can help build a sense of local identity and pride, of roots with the past. Community archives act as a “place of preservation” and are brought together by people sharing an interest in finding out about their community and how it developed. They can be of significant importance to social historians and others trying to understand the factors that shape people’s lives.

For example, the Canvey Island Archive is run by people from Canvey Island who took it upon themselves to gather memories, for example by copying photographs and other documents that relate to the history of the Island.

In the United States, archivists worked closely with the residents of Ferguson, Missouri, in order to document the stories of the unrest that shook the town and country. This work is already helping in the process of understanding what happened, and supporting the healing process.

Community archives preserve the past and often create awareness, interest and activity in the wider community. What is so unique about the archives is that they allow groups of people who are often unrepresented or overlooked in their society to identify, explore and celebrate their community and their cultural heritage.

That’s definitely worth celebrating!