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  • Archives, monuments and gardens (Weekly blog, 30 January 2017)

    Posted on January 31, 2017
    A blog by Catherine Leonard, Secretary-General

    Endangered archives blog, 30 January 2017

    Endangered Archives Programme

    Last week, I had a great conversation with Ruth Hansford, Grants Portfolio Manager at the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme.  (She’s new to the role and you can read her first impressions of the job here.)

    We talked about the challenges of physical digitisation as well as access and rights.  Ruth reeled off (very eloquently I thought, when I then discovered she had only been in post for a few months!) the list of reasons for funding an archiving project.  Essentially, these are:

    • How urgent is the need?
    • How vulnerable is the material?
    • How significant is it?
    • How feasible is the project?
    • How old is the material?
    • How much knowledge/skill do the applicants have?
    • How will the project transfer knowledge to local staff?
    • How accessible can the material be made?

    Archive stories

    Why are these archives are at risk?   “Tales of political or cultural figures who might be forgotten in the rush towards cultural homogenisation; tales of neglect when the prevailing winds change and the archivist’s job disappears; tales of leaking roofs, of rodents or termites chewing their way through unique documents, of photographic negatives disappearing before our very eyes, and of acidic paper eating itself”.

    In addition, there are “local dilemmas around how to get hold of the kit, how to cope with power cuts, and a cast of monks, heirs, civil servants”.   Ruth finds the human stories revealed by the material itself particularly touching. “Records from churches, orphanages and the courts that open a window on to civilian life all over the world.”

    So, now that you’re getting the archive buzz (!), the really great thing is that they are looking for projects to fund all over the world.   The next call for applications doesn’t go out until September, but the turnaround time is likely to be rather tight.  Therefore, if you have an idea that meets the 8 criteria above, it would definitely be worth planning/thinking about it now.  More details can be found here.

    World Monuments Watch

    Secondly, I’ve been speaking to John Darlington, Executive Director of the World Monuments Fund Britain.  Every two years, the World Monuments Watch calls international attention to unique places that are at risk from the forces of nature or the impacts of change.   Our 2016 State of Global Heritage Report highlighted the need to take action, not to stand by whilst world treasures are lost – be that to climate change, conflict or neglect.  INTO members are the ‘canaries in the coal mine’; well-placed to identify places that are facing pressing challenges and/or with new opportunities for positive change. Nominations for the 2018 World Monuments Watch are now being accepted until March 1, 2017.   John and the WMF team would love to hear from you!

    Extreme gardening at Powis Castle, Wales © NTPL/Arnel de Serra

    Gardens advice

    Lastly, another great offer!  We have been approached by a senior National Trust (E, W and NI) gardens adviser who is planning a sabbatical later this year.  He would very much like to offer his services to an INTO member organisation.   Do you have a gardens project which might benefit from a few days or weeks of intensive gardens advice – perhaps not as extreme as the above?  If you have something you think might fit the bill, do please contact the INTO Secretariat.

    Meanwhile back in the office …

    Work continues on reviewing INTO governance arrangements, progressing the programme for our 2017 ICNT in Indonesia in September (I have been helping BPPI with plans  a outreach ‘Fashion Show’ in London and I even booked my flight to Denpasar with Singapore Airlines this morning – very exciting!), preparation for World Heritage Day 2017 and drafting the 2016 Annual Report.   A day spent poring over the finances yesterday with Bob, our volunteer accountant … It’s nothing if not varied!

    Thanks for reading!

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