Significant themes in 2012
The City Archives have focused on gaining firm ground at the same time as jump-starting our first initiatives. Firm ground means, first and foremost, that we have worked on regulations and organisation. The regulations are the set of rules which are established for the municipal administration and the City Archives jointly in order to follow the Archives Law. Our organisation consists of branches to the administration and the local history and culture-historical community in Aarhus as well as nationally and internationally. The City Archives work within the City’s framework in the cross-municipal archives committee. Locally and nationally, we collaborate with various organisations and committees, e.g. the Organisation of Danish Archives in which we have the chairmanship of the network of e-archivists. Internationally, Aarhus City Archives represent Denmark in the European Association of Urban Historians’ International Committee and the Nordic collaboration Nordisk Lokalhistorisk Seminar.
Communication and collection
Throughout 2012, the City Archives emphasised digital communication related to collecting. We are now present in the digital world with an active Facebook-page which is used to share 2-3 stories a week from our vast archives of stories, images and documents. The longer stories required Aarhuswiki.dk which we established with the Archives of Local History and in coopera-tion with ITC, we opened our doors and held Collection Days for Europeana. The theme was the First World War and many citizens stopped by with their family’s stories and mementos from the Great War, which we then contributed to the Europeana database.
In 2012, we initiated the large digitisation project Sejrs Sedler (Sejr’s Notices). In a short amount of time, almost 100 volunteers signed up to help register small and large notices from Aarhus Stiftstidende (local newspaper) from the period 1794-1920. The notices consist of 120,000 index cards in a collection which is named by the person who established it back in the day. The many volunteers quickly ate their way through the material and by the end of the year, all notices were registered and we were able to start planning proof-reading and further contemplate how to handle communicating the interesting stories to the public. The other project based on volunteers is about registering and scanning the thousands of photos that can be found in the archives of Aarhus Stiftstidende.
Preserving digital data for posterity
The organisational work within the municipal framework is about generating the basis for being able to handle the large municipal archives in the years to come. It also provides us with a basis for working with the digital data which will be preserved for posterity. If the City Archives are not involved from the beginning, it may become very difficult to receive and preserve data in the correct as well as cheapest possible way. The external organisational work is about generating space and room for the City Archives to work as a research and dissemination institution in the years to come. Communicating in the social and digital media points towards a much more integrated digital platform in the future for the City Archives. These media help us connect with a circle of citizens with an interest in the activities of the City Archives and they provide us with excellent ambassadors. We are constantly gaining experience with citizen collaboration, learning more about their wishes and interests, and trying to compare this with our own visions for the City Archives.
In the name of smartarchiving.dk, the City Archives have been working on a digital self-service collecting module. This involves citizens being able to hand in their historically relevant material from their own computer at home. They log on using NemID and the system then works in the same way as other public self-service systems. The difference is that the City Archives are on the other end and we will decide whether the material that people send us has historical value and must be preserved for posterity. This has been the most significant development project for the City Archives in 2012 because it touches upon very central issues for an archive in the digital era. We change and adapt the digitisation task, making it fall on the citizens. What will this do to their perception of the archives? What does it mean to the archives’ traditional work with evaluating the historical value of a material? Technically, which formats does this mean that we will be working with and how much does it cost? In the second part of 2013, the module is ready for launch.