My archivist’s dream

I dream of a society where archives are not treated as objects to be used and then forgotten. A society where archivists enjoy the trust of document and record creators, where interchange is on the menu every day. A place where people are genuinely concerned each time their heritage is threatened with disappearance. A society where the general good has deep roots, which is committed to preserving the traces of the past. A place where archives outlive their authors, where obstacles are seen as facilitators, where the collective interest prevails and is the value the most commonly shared.

I dream of a profession, in which practitioners discuss sharing knowledge not knowledge itself. A profession made up of firefighters ready to quench the flames ignited by the voids in the past.  A profession where real ethical issues are discussed and not just their superficial implications. A proactive profession, where matters are debated in the present tense and where solutions are found to yesterday’s and tomorrow’s problems. A profession whose practitioners are enthusiastic and committed rather than casual and disengaged. A profession with pride in itself, marching to the beat of the same drum in a coordinated bid to protect its heritage.

I dream of a professional community that is robust and dynamic, that draws strength from its victories, that never throws in the towel. Where images leave room for imagination. An open community, ready to exchange, learn and share. A community that is not inward-looking but open to the public at large, that prompts enthusiasm and excitement not frustration and complaint. A community that seeks to convince and not to confound, where people are proud not to belong but to feel at home. A listening, caring, supportive and understanding community.

I dream of a State self-confident enough to ignore the slogans and take real positive action. A State that does not merely offer support but partnership, capable of failing yet able to bounce back for the common good. A State where life is not about today, because today is now, but where every day has a yesterday and each is a continuum of what went before. A State that does not flee reminders but is at one with its past.

Such are my archivist’s dreams.

By OMGBWA YASSE Emmanuel Fabrice, Consultant Archivist