A New Book about The National Archives on Modern Archiving Standards

A New Book about The National Archives on  Modern Archiving Standards

A New Book about The National Archives on
Modern Archiving Standards

The National Archives issued a new book on archiving entitled The Integrated Archival System, which has 383 pages and contains a number of studies that present archiving in its both theoretical and practical concepts, focusing on Algerian and Emirati archiving examples.
The book presents the law and the by-laws of the National Archives and the proposals of the author Abdelkraim Badjadja for organizing the Archives in its various stages, laying down the key aspects to preserve it in such stages, and for the provision of the necessary equipment, the climate conditions, media, and how to protect it against disasters.
The book begins by defining archives as documentary material that presents a testimony to the history of civilizations, the official activities of the institutions of states. This concept has remained valid up to this day, while the form of archives changed from clay to paper and then to electronic archives, and its concept widened to include all the documents produced by all public and private institutions and associations, even individuals.
The author shows that the history of archives began with official documents in the form of clay tablets discovered in the Arab Orient in Egypt and Syria, where 200 of diplomatic documents, international conventions, kings’ letters related to defense of the borders, administrative orders, supplying of goods, organizing crafts and special contracts were discovered in the Kingdom of Ugarit near Latakia. Most of the documents date back to the 14th and 13th centuries BC.
The author also points to Iraq where the code of Hammurabi, the founder of Babylon in 1792-1750 BC, was discovered inscribed on an obelisk of basalt that is kept at Louvre Museum in Paris.
The author says that the oldest archive materials in the history of humanity are perhaps the tablets in Ashurbanipal Palace in Nineveh, dating to the 7th century BC, which contain royal decrees, ‎judicial judgments, and special contracts.
Then the author moves to the term “the National Archives”, which first appeared with the French Revolution in 1790, when the decision was made to change the “French Council of Archives” to the “National Archives”.
The book aims to propose a form of a “National Archives’ Model Law” for countries in need of legislation for their archives.
The author continues that after the development of Archives in the form and conservation conditions and after promoting the concept of "the National Archives," this field witnessed a real revolution that coincided with the outbreak of World War II, as Archives overnight started to develop quickly, produce tremendously, and duplicate according to an amazing progression, in lieu of the old system, which was marked by slow production according to an arithmetic progression by adding just one every time. Thus, all departments concerned with world war witnessed an inflation in archives, for which they were not prepared. It is noteworthy that when the US Navy felt that inflation, it randomly established the first center to preserve the surplus of archives, "Mediator Archives," which was not used daily, but was kept for reference.
He points out that a book which was published in 1956 includes a new philosophy to save the Archives according to three main stages of its administrative life: First Life Stage (less than 5 years), the archives are saved in the departments; Second Life Stage (5-15 years), they are saved in temporary conservation centers; and Third Life Stage (over 15 years), they are transferred to the National Archives after the sorting process.
The author continues saying that the development of Archives has not stopped at this point, but witnessed other developments, which made it imperative to find suitable solutions to address new challenges. After the establishment of the International Council on Archives in 1948 under the auspices of UNESCO, the world of archives entered a new stage in its path that was marked by the issuance of provisions regulating all aspects of this field. UNESCO proposed a model for archiving law that consists of 238 articles that show how to organize archives in any country.
The author also points out that 1980s formed a difference in the history of archiving; when archives were forced to enter the electronic arena and the use of automated media in its operation. UNESCO released a special system firstly for libraries and then for archives. The system aims at the scientific treatment of an archival description. Thus, the institutions that have implemented all the international standards little by little were quite ready to enter the third millennium with the spread of the Internet and new technologies arising from digital photography, taking into account the fact that all archive centers in the world have been compelled to enter the electronic arena and follow the same internationally standardized scientific path.
The first 20 chapters of the book reviews the National Archives’ Model Law, which intends to propose a form of the law for the countries in need of legislation for their Archives, such as some Arab and African countries. This law highlights the public and private archives, the Archive structures, its scientific treatment, and how to destroy it in addition to the management and preservation of electronic archives, the archival services and the Archive’s role in promoting national identity, citizenship collective memory, national culture, and more.
The following studies deal with the internal system for archives management in institutions and they lay down a scientific system according to international standards, the laws prevailing in the country, and a methodology of developing of a national policy for the management of Archives: The Algerian Experience, and Archives in the United Arab Emirates: Reality and Prospects. This study confirms that archives in the international concept is a means of work and a tool for managing the institutions, and controlling its progress will positively affect the management of the institutions of any specialization. Over the years, archives enter the historical stage and are used to write the history of nations.
The study reviews the important short-term procedures and the new system in the intermediate term and the regulatory and scientific, professional, and cultural environment for the implementation of the new system.
Another study diagnoses the Archive’s status with Ministries and government entities in order to know the current status of these archives before the proposal of specific plans for each archive. Some studies propose a policy to regulate the Archives in the short and intermediate terms and treatment of scattered archives and the method of archival funds according to the international standard (ISAD (G)) and determine the policy for saving electronic archives in the long term. Other chapters in the book review the key points for managing and saving the electronic archives in the long-term and the program of preparing archivists to manage the current and the semi-current archives and suggest economic equations to build archive centers.
The book chapters include a list of equipment of the archive centers, libraries and climatic conditions to preserve the archives in the long term and the conditions of keeping various media such as film, microfilm, floppy disks, DVDs, and CDs.
The book also includes a description of the requirements for protecting the archives from fire and warnings about gases and pesticides used in the sterilization and protection of archives, and provides alternatives to avoid the use of gases and toxic pesticides that may be harmful to human beings and the environment and to provide archivists and librarians with modern information on the protection methods of archives from fire, insects and parasites.
The penultimate study deals with the guidelines for disaster prevention and control, while the 20th study, Archivists’ Guide, addresses electronic documents, which includes the basic theories and concepts, the strategy of influence and the designing of archival requirements and their activation and conservation in the long-term and making documents accessible. The author, in writing this book, depended on his long experience in archiving documents in Algeria and on many sources and references in this area.
The National Archives of the United Arab Emirates was founded in 1968 under the directives of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, with the aim of collecting and documenting all materials related to the history and heritage of the UAE and the Gulf region. Forty years after its establishment, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, issued Federal Law No. 7 for the year 2008, thus converting it to the National Center for Documentation and Research, and was entrusted with the tasks of organizing the archives of government entities in the United Arab Emirates. More recently it has been renamed The National Archives, according to Federal Law No. 1 for the year 2014.