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Archives October 28, 2016

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics.
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With the Mary Robinson Archive currently in the news (and discussed here already) it brings the wider theme of what to do with archives. Sell them (and there are plenty of Universities abroad with deep pockets for this type of thing) , donate them to the State or donate them to the state with conditions attached (i.e. there be a Museum in Mayo) .
Although having watched Prime Time last night, There may well be some further questions around the housing of the Robinson archive.
It seems that Robinson wants to start a new pattern along the lines of US Presidents who donate their archives and have buildings named after them to house the collections.
In the realm of Political Archives much of it tends to be donated to Universities, The National Library or other State institutions. In a few cases private collections such as the Jackie Clarke collection in Ballina have led to Museums being established. The Clarke Collection was suggested as a venue for the Robinson archive but I gather The Clarke Museum doesn’t have room to store all of its own material never mind the Robinson stuff too. Some of the agenda is I imagine to try and ultimately make Ballina some kind of archive hub …. The Enda Kenny archive, a Pee Flynn one etc to follow. All of which would have some merit for there to be a decent archives hub outside of Dublin. That said Ballina is not the easiest place to get to on Public Transport.
I’d be regularly contacted and I’m sure it’s the same with wbs and The Left Archive, by students or scholars looking for particular material. I hear tales of appointments to view particular archives that would put some of the Hospital waiting lists to shame, someone contacted me recently who had managed to secure access to a certain parties papers in 2029! (I hope that it was due to the 20 year rule) Not much good if your course is well over by then. Indeed it’s a pity that whole collections rather than individual items tend to be covered by the 20 year rule.
Some Parties have donated material but resources are scarce and most institutions are underfunded. Due to these lack of resources within the various institutions some Parties ended up having send their own staff in for a year or two to catalogue it. Other donations I’m told have yet to be cataloged, never mind digitised.
I get given material as people want it out there and viewable, they know at some stage it will be scanned and put online and if it’s particularly good exhibited in the flesh. There’s a feeling that donations to some institutions can tend to disappear into storage, may take years before they are catalogued, digitised (if they are ever done) and may never see the light of a display case. Which is an awful pity.
It was suggested to me last night that I should get my collection valued should I ever want to write off some Tax!

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1. Aonrud ⚘ - October 28, 2016

There was a post on Hatful of History about digital and non-institutional archives recently (https://hatfulofhistory.wordpress.com/2016/10/17/starting-a-discussion-about-self-archiving-political-movements-and-the-international-left/).

Obviously the immediacy of access and by-passing the slowness of institutions is a big advantage. (Though it was interesting to see some fairly negative responses from archivists on Twitter to the above).

It’s understandable that an archive with limited resources has to prioritise preservation of the physical copy, followed I imagine by cataloguing, but digitisation would make such a difference to access for so many archives. Aside from perhaps having to travel, they can be intimidating enough institutions.

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irishelectionliterature - October 28, 2016

Read the piece you linked to on the Cork LGBT Archive. Was interested in particular with copyright . I have been approached on a number of occasions by people wanting to make reproductions of some of the material I have. I always allow books etc to reproduce stuff without fees.
However there have been approaches to reproduce posters, badges and leaflets for purely commercial reasons. To date I have refused as I’m afraid of copyright law (and also as It’s a hobby rather than a business).
Curious to know if there a period where copyright no longer applies?
Would be very handy to know should I ever put together a book of material.

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Aonrud ⚘ - October 28, 2016

Can’t say I know a great deal about it. The Left Archive, and presumably your own, are lucky in that it’s all or mostly material that the authors wanted disseminated, but as soon as any commercial use comes in, I’d say it gets messy. As that piece points out, it’s hard to know who even owns copyright on some political material.

I wonder if things like that just get reproduced under fair use a lot of the time?

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