Archive for April 12th, 2010

Archives in crisis: the response

12 April 2010

By Lisa-Marie Griffith

On Saturday over 250 archivists, archive readers, students, staff and researchers from across the humanities packed into Trinity’s arts block for the ‘Archives in Crisis’ symposium and they were just the ones who made it in. Every seat in the lecture theatre was taken and those who had not arrived early were lined up against the wall or forced to take a seat on the steps- ten minutes into the symposium the security staff were turning people away at the door. The overwhelming turn out on a beautifully sunny day confirms how seriously people feel about objecting to the planned government merger of the National Archives of Ireland into the National Library of Ireland.

Moderated by Professor Diarmaid Ferriter, historian of UCD, he thanked everyone for attending and Peter Crooks for organising the event and bringing everyone together. The first speaker was Catriona Crowe, chairperson of the archivist’s branch of IMPACT, who outlined the difficult position the NAI were currently in. Underfunded and with a staff of only 44 the archives are currently forced to limit their processing and archiving to only certain government departments and in January 2010 the archive announced that they could not process the files due to be opened to the public under the 30 year rule. Read more

Interview: Dr Peter Crooks, Irish Chancery Project and organiser of the ‘Archives in Crisis’ public meeting

12 April 2010

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Fintan O’Toole showered praise on those foregoing the Grand National. Nuns sat on stairs. Historians peered over shoulders at the back. It was, Diarmaid Ferriter told the audience, highly commendable that so many had given up the first rays of summer to sit in a dark windowless room and listen to historians rambling on about the travails of history and ‘forgotten’ archives. But dark, windowless rooms are the historian’s natural habitat, and the 250 or so packed into Trinity College’s Emmet Theatre on Saturday afternoon exuded an energy born of their collective concern at the state of Ireland’s archives.

Immediately after the event, Pue’s cornered its chief organiser, Dr Peter Crooks of the Irish Chancery Project, allowed him a brief respite to gather a box laden with pens, notepads and flyers in one hand, a bunch of fresh daffodils in the other, and began an impromptu interview by asking if he felt the event had been a success. Crooks’s response was characteristically understated; he was happy, he ventured, that it turned into something more than a ‘professional whinge’. But even his natural reticence could do little to hide his enthusiasm at the levels of awareness the meeting had raised, far beyond even the positive indications they had been receiving since posters and flyers for the event had begun to circulate in the last month or so. Read More