Ted Ryan 2016-05-12 11:12:27
How can archives help to create a sustainable world and support sustainable brands? And how can we build archives that thrive in an age of cutbacks? These were the questions at the center of the two-day annual meeting of the Section on Business Archives (SBA) of the International Council on Archives (ICA) on April 4–5. For the first time since SBA began holding an annual program, the conference was held in the U.S. and hosted by The Coca- Cola Company. More than 130 business archivists from sixteen countries gathered in Atlanta, Georgia, to hear from colleagues in premiere international archives on the theme of “Sustainable Archives.” A Global Conversation On the first day, Alex Bieri, acting chair of SBA and curator of the Roche Historical Collection in Basil, Switzerland, welcomed attendees and introduced the keynote speaker. To give the gathering a firm foundation for the conversations to follow, Ursula Wynhoven, chief legal officer and chief of Governance and Social Sustainability of the United Nations Global Compact, kicked off the first morning. Wynhoven set the tone for the conference by rooting our discussions in the goals of the UN Global Compact. She began with a video of the Architects of a Better World campaign (www.youtube.com /watch?v=kz2W68hyLMQ). Next up was Michael Goltzman, vice president of International Government Relations and Public Affairs of The Coca- Cola Company. He focused on sustainability initiatives conducted by Coca-Cola, citing many cases where the archives was culled for stories about the company’s heritage. My favorite was when he told the story of the famous 1971 Hilltop commercial, which featured young people from around the world singing, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke.” All the proceeds from the ad were donated to UNICEF. That same year, Coca-Cola created a puzzle with the Boston chapter of UNICEF as a charity item, raising even more money for UNICEF. Of particular note was an open discussion on the challenges of sustaining a pipeline of future corporate archivists. The discussion, led by Linda Edgerly of The Winthrop Group, shed light on the differences and similarities among international archives in how young archivists are prepared to work in a corporate setting. The discussion included both seasoned professionals and new archivists. I was struck by a comment from a young Scottish archivist, who said that her career had been a progression of short-term contracts because few other opportunities existed. She hoped that her current work conducting an initial survey of a business’s collection would be of value enough to the company that her role would become permanent. An hour was allotted for this discussion, but it could have gone much longer—everyone learned from the session. Since Coca-Cola hosted the meeting, that could only mean a visit to the World of Coca-Cola. I was a bit nervous about having 130 global peers going though our museum (and the possible silent judgment of our exhibits!), but the evening was a success. The polar bear, which was first used in print ads in 1922, was a particular hit as he posed for countless photos with visitors. We treated everyone to southern cuisine and a wide assortment of biscuits at the biscuit bar. The second day of sessions went fast and furious with ten speakers representing industries such as telecommunications, banking, clothing, alcohol, cosmetics and even Harley-Davidson! One of the highlights was the presentation by Yuko Matsuzaki on the archives at Shiseido, a cosmetics company in Japan. Several Shiseido leaders traveled from Tokyo to support Matsuzaki, and her memorable presentation featured a show-stealing video on image and perception (www.youtube.com /watch?v=5n3Db6pMQ-8&). Benefits of SAA and ICA As a member of both SAA and ICA, I urged our collective group to consider joining both organizations. Executive Director Nancy Beaumont was on hand to represent SAA and it was great to introduce her to international peers. It is professionally and personally rewarding to learn from and get to know these archivists. ICA publishes a variety of standards and resources that address some of the profession’s most pressing issues. The archival world is so much bigger than just the U.S.! Looking ahead, two ICA SBA conferences will be held in 2017, with the first in Stockholm, Sweden, in April and the second in Mumbai, India, in December. I hope to see you at one of them!
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