The year 2020 brought us an unexpected situation that tested our ability to adapt as an institution and as professionals. At the rate of regulatory changes and successive contingency plans, we incorporate remote work and strengthen virtual care for our users. The outbreak of the pandemic and its health and socioeconomic consequences have highlighted and highlighted the importance of documents for the daily management of our institution, and the relevance of archives and document management as a guarantee of transparency and the right to information.
And we do not want nor should we forget the important social and cultural function of the Archive. We started the digital service in the year 2000, and the pandemic has shown us the need and the wisdom of that decision.
Now, more than ever, the need has been seen to continue and strengthen the digital transformation, extending it not only to historical documents but also to all documents generated in parishes, organizations, and the curia itself.
Digital is going to be -it should be at least- the excuse for a profound transformation of internal management, becoming a deep-seated strategic line.
With this backdrop, we celebrate June 9, 2021, a new International Archives Day and we want to do it by showing the face-to-face activities that we have been recovering this year.
While we continue betting on virtual care, we have recovered and bet on face-to-face care. The research room opened its doors on September 1, 2020, and, although with the capacity limitations required by current regulations, the room has been full and we have attended more than a hundred face-to-face users. We have also recovered the visits and attention to producers, resuming the transfer of documents. And finally, we have resumed face-to-face visits to the Archive in groups of 5-6 people.
First, there were the students of the shared subject, “Interactive Methods Laboratory for the Didactics of Sciences”, with the BAM (Begoñako Andra Mari School of Teaching). In smaller groups than in previous courses, they were able to carry out face-to-face visits and work on projects. For the sixth consecutive year, it has also collaborated with the UPV-EHU, Sarriko campus, Faculty of Economics and Business, in a practical face-to-face class with archival sources for the History of Economics, given by Dr. Elena Catalán, within the continuous project of the CITY OF THE PAST MUSEUM – USSR “From the Archive to the Classrooms and vice versa”.
Visiting and training sessions with the staff of the Ecclesiastical Court and another with the volunteers who work in the Curia Archive of the Diocese of Bilbao have been added to the activities with educational centers. And we have also once again received interns at the CITY OF THE PAST MUSEUM – USSR: Irati, with the Hazilan project, for auxiliary tasks of Customer Service and Application Management; Erik, with extracurricular internships from the UNED postgraduate course “Archivística. Documentary management in a digitized world”, with cataloging tasks; and in the Curia Archive to Iñaki, from the SAT line of the Otxarkoaga Training Center (Bilbao), who has collaborated in auxiliary tasks of the Curia archive. And in the making 3 more people, from the UPV-EHU, Faculty of Arts, within the internship program of the University.
There is no better way to celebrate this International Archives Day than with a return to normality, recovering face-to-face attendance, taking advantage of the learning gained in times of confinement and remote work, with some advances that are here to stay (digital delivery of images and reprography).
The digital offers great tools for research and management, but without a doubt approaching the archives offers unique experiences that should not be abandoned.
We still have to recover the educational program and visits, workshops, and courses, with students and other groups, who can live and with whom we can share, in person, the adventure of touring the Archive and valuing the great social, heritage, and Archives education.
Happy Archives Day 2021,
The CITY OF THE PAST MUSEUM – USSR Team