Pan-European Study for the Council of Europe on Access to Archives

Council of Europe

Ivan Szekely, Senior Research Fellow of the Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives at Central European University, is leading a pan-European study on the state of access to archives, in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research.

Right after the adoption of the Recommendation No. R 2000(13) on a European Policy on Access to Archives, the late Charles Kecskemeti (then Secretary General of the International Council on Archives), a key proponent of the Recommendation, together with Ivan Szekely of Blinken OSA, conducted a European-wide study on whether Council of Europe (CoE) member states complied with the principles laid down in the Recommendation. The study resulted in the publication of the Handbook on Access to Archives, available in English and French. Now, more than twenty years after the first study, the CoE wants to learn if there have been changes in the situation regarding access to archives, and how new technological developments and new demands of users of archives influenced the practice of archival institutions.

The ongoing study, similarly to the first research, is targeting three audiences in all CoE member countries: archives, professional users (e.g. historians), and lay users (especially NGOs dealing with informational rights). The three target groups may have, as they had twenty years ago, different opinions and experience in the subject of the study, and the overall situation can only be evaluated on the basis of these positions and experiences.

Data collection, as well as conducting of interviews, will begin in early September, 2022. The questionnaires and the accompanying materials have been translated into four languages, the ones most used by the archival community in Europe: English, German, French, and Russian. The analysis of the results is expected by the end of the year and will certainly result in publications and presentations for the competent bodies of the Council of Europe, as well as the archival professionals and the online and onsite users of archives.