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Is there a democratic deficit in archives?

This conference which is being run with support from the British Records Association will explore the issues surrounding the question raised by Professor Lucas at the 2015 Northumbria Conference on archives and recordsIs there a democratic deficit in the way records are managed and selected for archives?   In the developing world, records are vital tools in the fight against corruption and in the struggle for development. They are the essential guarantee for ‘the rule of law’. In the UK, there is public oversight of the process for releasing official records via the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council and the Information Commissioner, but there is no statutory oversight of the creation, selection or disposition of records.

The conference will begin by looking at the needs of the future generation of users, it will then discuss the vital issues of records management in developing countries. It will consider the importance of records in the investigation of tragedies and transgressions. It will explore how new ideas about the way records and archives should be created, including co-creation and memory boxes have emerged from tragedies and transgression. It will also consider the impact of recent government initiatives in addressing shortcomings in record creation and disposal – Sir Alex Allan’s review of digital records and the independent cross-party review of Freedom of Information. Finally it will turn to the question of how we can apply democracy to the creation and selection of records and what happens when things go wrong.

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The conference will be of interest to members of civil society and information sharing groups who are concerned with democratic access to the use of information and the way in which government information can be used to monitor and challenge the executive.

It will also be of interest to archivists and records managers who are faced with these issues on a daily basis and also to historians and other users of archives who wish to contribute to the debate about the creation of and access to their sources.

An objective of the conference, just like last year’s, is to encourage dialogue between stakeholders, who in our experience often talk past each other.

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