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Recently Barbara Reed and I attended the International Congress on Archives in Seoul, Korea. Held every four years, this is something of an ‘archives Olympics’, with thousands of recordkeeping professionals coming together for the week to discuss projects and ideas and make new connections.

Some of the highlights from the Congress included:

ICA Congress Closing Ceremony Image credit: @CassPF

  • hearing about the new Records in Contexts (RiC), standard for archival description developed by the ICA – a new standard that embraces introduces multidimensional description of recordkeeping entities that will be better suited to the complexity of digital records;
  • discussing the role of records and archives in reconciliation efforts across different parts of the world, from Latin America to Iceland;
  • a reprise of the workshop held recently on Sydney on Recordkeeping Informatics by Barbara, with Monash University’s Frank Upward and Gillian Oliver of Victoria University, Wellington; and
  • learning about the needs of new archives professionals from a research project done by the ICA New Professionals – a group of bursary holders who traveled to Seoul from all corners of the globe.

Encouragingly, the Congress theme of ‘harmony’ seemed to extend to our shared professional understandings of the key issues for recordkeepers. The complexity of recordkeeping in the digital world and the need to adopt flexible but robust approaches featured strongly, as did acknowledgement that rigid adherence to standards can give way to interoperability. Many speakers also touched on issues of power and agency in recordkeeping, and the need for different points of view and stakes in records to be acknowledged and accommodated in our work.

Image credit: @NicolaCLaurent

Barbara gave a keynote address on ‘Recordkeeping in the age of ‘FANG’ (Facebook, Apple, Netflix and Google)’ and I presented on the new edition of ISO 15489: 2016 Records Management. David Fricker, Director of the National Archives of Australia, did a superb job for his first Congress as President of the ICA, and must have posed for hundreds of photographs with colleagues from all over the world. Overall, Australia was well represented with dozens of us in attendance.

To get a flavour for the week’s activities – both formal and informal – the Twitter hashtag #ICASeoul2016 is worth a look.

The next ICA conference will be in Mexico in 2017 with the next major Congress in 2020 to be held in the United Arab Emirates. For more information about the ICA, go to: