Blinken OSA’s Archival Training Supports Human Rights and Memory Institutions Adapting to Digital Environment

In June, the Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives (Blinken OSA) conducted a week-long professional training program for volunteer instructors of the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial and Cemetery ahead of the center’s July opening. Pulitzer Prize winner David Rohde, who donated his materials relating to Srebrenica to the archives, spoke at the opening alongside Blinken OSA’s Acting Chief Archivist Csaba Szilágyi, who developed the training curricula and served as a key consultant on the memorial.

The training covered a wide range of topics that serve as the base for professional archival in a digital environment, and coincided with International Archives Day, which was adopted by the International Council on Archives  (ICA ) at the International Congress in Vienna in 2004.

Szilágyi’s blog post, Discussion About the 1995 Srebrenica Genocide Begins in the Archives, articulates the establishment of the archive and research center on the study of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide from his role as pro bono archives consultant. Having worked at Blinken OSA since 1996, he also offers human rights and archival expertise to CEU’s Department of Legal Studies and the Department of History.

During the introductory phase of the training, lectures regarding the mandate of archives and the archival workflow covered acquisition, appraisal, and accessioning, as well as processing and digitization of textual materials. Given the current era rich in audiovisual materials, additional sessions were dedicated to the care and the handling of these materials including photos, videos and sound collections, with a special focus on memory institutions.

With digitization taking center stage in archives, along with the use of modern archival management systems, IT knowledge and service are essential. To that end, sessions were designed to offer training about the information systems in the archival workflow. Additionally, since sensitive materials compose potentially political metadata in case of records of violent past(s), the training considered the role of archivist and archival intervention. Finally, access to information, privacy and legal matters in the archives were addressed, as well as the library reference service and records management.

CEU students and researchers can learn from Blinken OSA’s archival experts and access the collection and select training resources both onsite in Budapest and digitally from Vienna and anywhere in the world.