Friday, December 31, 2010

An Introduction

I received my MA in Archives Administration last May and promptly moved to Ireland to be with my partner. Though I love the idea of living in Ireland, the reality is quite harsh.  Archives are not taken very seriously in the public sector, and therefore are also widely ignored in the private sector. 

This poor attitude towards archives has received significant attention this year with some mention on RTE, as well as in articles written by Fintan O'Toole.  In April a symposium titled "Archives in Crisis" was held in Dublin.  Indeed it is high time there was public discussion about the government's management of records of historical significance, as well as records containing personal information.

As Noam Chomsky succinctly stated in 1966, "It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies."  We, as Archivists, provide access to the primary documents required to conduct thorough research and expose the truth.  Without the diligent archivist, no intellectual could gain access to the evidence they require to enforce accountability and transparency.

To truly say we are part of a participatory democracy, all levels of society must have access to the information required to make an educated decision at election time. This is how we avoid becoming the democratic bourgeois state described by Lenin as a place where, "the toiling masses... see and realize perfectly well that the bourgeois parliaments are institutions alien to them, instruments for the oppression of the proletarians by the bourgeoisie, institutions of a hostile class, of the exploiting minority."  Transparency is critical to ensure the masses are not being exploited by a few elite members of government. It is therefore no wonder that the government has invested no resources in maintaining its archives and making government documents accessible.

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