«We need to look into the past in order to understand the present and foresee the future»
N.A.Nazarbayev
This day in history
6
October

On the request of the US Department of State

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On the request of the US Department of State - e-history.kz
Within the framework of the US Department of State's "International Visits on Demand" program, a group of archival and library staff of Kazakhstan visited the United States to exchange experience

The delegation included the staff of the Presidential Archive of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Library of the First President of the RK, the Central State Archive of Almaty and the State Archive of the West Kazakhstan Region. The stay program included visits to four cities: Washington, Chicago, New York and Boston.

The program administrator is the non-governmental organization "Meridian International Center", which dealt with organizational issues and the development of professional meetings programs. The content of the program was aimed at acquaintance with the US regulatory and legal system regulating access of users to state information; studying of the best practice of archive business in the USA concerning the collection, storage, use of archival documents; creation of electronic archives; archival information access procedure, including information security issues.

The professional meetings covered the following topics:

1. Washington: a general orientation lecture on the structure and activities of the US federal government; visit the US Department of State; familiarity with the management system of the Presidential libraries.

2. Chicago: the activities of the American Library Association; national archives and best practices of the archives of the United States; technological databases and digital materials; public and private library services; aspects of the activities of the Presidential Library and the Barack Obama Museum.

3. Boston: the archival work of the Presidential Library and the Archives of John F. Kennedy; educational initiative of the Institute of the US Senate named after Edward M. Kennedy; the curriculum and programs of the Harvard Center for Eurasia Studies; research in the Independent Library of the Boston Athenaeum and the Museum of Art Service.

In Washington on January 30 at the opening of the program were Mark Hilbert, a specialist of the Bureau of Education and Culture of the US Department of State, Nancy Firkhayli, senior specialist in the program of professional exchanges.

The Kazakh delegation met with the leadership of the National Archives and Records Administration of the United States (NARA), which manages all presidential libraries and museums (Herbert Hoover, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and William J. Clinton). One of the tasks of the NARA is the preparation of the "Manual for the Presidential Records Administration". This work has been carried out since 2000, and in 2016 the Manual was published with commentaries and practical recommendations on the main provisions of the Presidential Records Act as of 1978 on the Presidential Records Administration. According to the Act, the legal right to store presidential documents is automatically transferred to NARA on the last day of the president's rule.

The system of grant financing of NARA projects, carried out with the direct participation of the National Commission for Historical Publications and US Documents, is of interest to Kazakhstani specialists.

Attention is drawn to the unification of the NARA rules for dealing with declassified information, where practical recommendations have been established to ensure its security, distribution, management and labeling. The rules provide a unified system of security requirements and distribution of declassified information. In general, the NARA activities are characterized by a combination of normative, regulatory and research functions. NARA exercises legal and regulatory functions and control over the safety of presidential documents. And one of the challenges that NARA faces today is the transfer of electronic documents of the president's administration and his personal office. In order to avoid the loss of valuable historical information, this information is transferred in full for storage together with the bearers of this information.

Within the framework of visiting the cities of Chicago and Boston, the Kazakh delegation had an opportunity to get a close look at the work of presidential libraries, compare Kazakhstan's methods and technical means of restoring historical documents with those used in the work of US archivists.

The creation of electronic collections of archival documents in the work of US archives, as well as in Kazakhstan, is a priority. Digitization is carried out on a contractual basis, third-party companies are engaged for this. The contracts are concluded for individual historical projects and thematic collections. Since documents are not filed in the acquisition, the process of digitization does not require additional types of work on the archiving and filing of archival cases.

The methods used and the digitization equipment used do not have any special differences from those used in the Archive of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The pace of digitization of documents in the President's Archive is substantially higher than in the American archives that the Kazakh delegation visited. If in general from the total amount of information stored in the Archive of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, by the beginning of 2017, 8.7% have been digitized, this figure exceeds the corresponding figures of the archives that make up the NARA.

In the strategies and future development plans of the NARA and the Presidential Archive, many key points are similar. First of all, this is the development of the direction of computerization and automation of archival work, the active involvement of NARA in solving problems of patriotic education of citizens of the country.

When visiting the largest libraries: the Library of the US Congress, the Boston Public Library, the Library of the Center for Eurasian Studies named after Davis at Harvard University, Kazakh archivists paid attention to the lack of literature about Kazakhstan. At the same time, the interest of American researchers in our country is constantly growing. Therefore, proposals were made to facilitate the receipt of new literature from Kazakhstan. A meeting with the leadership of the Association of Libraries of the United States resulted in the fact that Kazakhstan archivists were granted the right to free online access for use of all the library resources of the Association. Despite the differences in the use of forms for storage, use, and criterion for examining the value of documents of Kazakhstani and American archives, it should be noted the general trend in the use of modern means of restoration and preservation, digitization of archival documents.

 

By Boris DZHAPAROV

Translated by Raushan MAKHMETZHANOVA

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