ACOR celebrates International Archives Week 2021 #EmpoweringArchives

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6 June 2021

Alongside our colleagues around the world, ACOR celebrates International Archives Week (IAW) 2021 from June 7 to 11! On this occasion, organized for the third year in a row by the International Council on Archives, professionals and institutions worldwide are coming together to recognize the contributions of archives to knowledge production and to increase their visibility as rich resources for information about our shared world. This year, the theme of IAW is #EmpoweringArchives, and online events and discussions will focus on:

  • How archives empower accountability and transparency;
  • How networking and collaboration enable us to empower archives and the profession;
  • And how to challenge current archival theory and practice to make it more diverse and inclusive of different voices and different histories.

Empowering researchers, students, local communities, and other users to access information about the history and heritage of Jordan and the wider MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region have been goals of the ACOR Archive since its inception. For this reason, we are excited to share with our community a variety of resources, both new and old, that reflect our commitment to transparency, networking and knowledge sharing, accessibility, and incorporating diverse voices and histories.

In celebration of this week, we have prepared several interactive experiences based on our photographic collections. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for access to these virtual experiences as they launch throughout the week—or check this page on our website to see each one as it becomes available.

Empowering transparency and access to information

ACOR’s open-access photo archive currently houses over 30,000 digitized and born-digital images from nine countries, making them and their associated metadata available to anyone interested in conducting virtual exploration of or research on the MENA region. In recent years, we have made efforts to increase the metadata available (and searchable) in Arabic as well as English, ensuring that communities from the countries represented in the archive, as well as international researchers, are able to benefit from these resources. These efforts have culminated in a commitment under our most recent grant to produce all new metadata for images, videos, and other archival objects in Arabic and in English.  

Following through on this commitment, the ACOR Archive recently launched its first fully bilingual collection: The USAID SCHEP collection, comprising nearly 5,000 born-digital photos (and counting) from the first four years of work across Jordan by ACOR’s USAID Sustainable Cultural Heritage Through Engagement of Local Communities Project. This collection documents SCHEP’s interventions at nine archaeological sites throughout Jordan, in addition to awareness activities, tourism development efforts, and overall support for the cultural heritage sector. It is important to  SCHEP and other ACOR teams that these resources are available to anyone with an interest in SCHEP’s mission and model for the sustainable development of cultural heritage resources in partnership with local communities.

Challenging current archival theory and practice with an eye to inclusivity and diversity

Under our current project, “The ACOR Digital Archive: Developing a Multimedia Teaching and Learning Resource (2020 – 2024),” funded by a Title VI grant from the Department of Education, we are working to reach new communities of educators and students. Conducting direct outreach to community colleges, minority-serving institutions (MSIs), and historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) is a primary component of the project, based on the understanding that these institutions and their students and faculty may have fewer resources for international education and exchange than other colleges and universities. The project includes an educator fellowship component, in which faculty members from these institutions will be engaged to develop learning resources and curricula that utilize the ACOR Archive and its resources to broaden their students’ understandings of the Middle East.

We are also proud of our dynamic team of in-house staff and external consultants who have each contributed to ACOR archival development immensely. You can read about archival staff past and present on the ACOR Archive website and watch several recorded presentations from 2020 on archival practice in our 2016–2020 project, particularly the resilience of our project team during Amman’s national lockdown last spring.

Networking and collaboration among colleagues

One of the most important outcomes of ACOR’s first archival project was a series of skill-sharing workshops held from 2017–2019, for which we gathered colleagues from a number of regional and national galleries, libraries, archives, and museums, as well as university groups and digital humanities initiatives, to share the theories and methodologies we have employed in our archival efforts—plus a few more. You can find a summary of the 2019 workshop on our website, and we look forward to hosting future networking and skill-sharing events in the future. We are also pleased to have published a number of recorded presentations about archival theory and practice (see links below) to help raise awareness and understanding of archives and all they have to offer.

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