Recognizing Excellence in Records & Information Management
Recognizing Excellence in Records & Information Management
Joan Boadas i Raset has held the position of Girona Municipal Archivist since 1990. He also holds the position of Director of the Research and Image Diffusion Centre (CRDI) https://www.girona.cat/sgdap/cat/servei_arxiu_crdi.php. From May 2009 to September 2016 he was the International Council on Archives’ (ICA) commissioner for photographic and audio-visual archives and official representative to the Co-ordinating Council of Audio-Visual Archivist Associations (CCAAA). From 2013 to 2021 was a member of ICA/PCOM (Programme Commission) Executive Board. His latest published book is Diccionario Boadas para la gestión de archivos (Boadas Dictionary of Archive Management), Ed. Trea, 2021, in which he reflects on different aspects related to archival science and records management.
Photo credit: Manel Lladó
With remarks by Trudy Peterson and Joan Boadas
The Emmett Leahy Award recognizes an individual whose contributions and outstanding accomplishments have a major impact on the records and information management profession. Established in 1967, this award honors the spirit of innovation, dedication, and excellence in records and information management of Emmett Leahy, who was a key figure in developing the life cycle approach to managing records and information. One person is honored each year.
The 2022 Emmett Leahy Award goes to Joan Boadas i Raset, the Municipal Archivist of Girona, Spain.
Joan Boadas i Raset has been the Girona Municipal Archivist since 1990. He is also the General Manager of the Cinema Museum, Director of the Research and Image Diffusion Centre, and Head of the Municipal Records Management, Archives and Publications Service. His development of innovative recordkeeping systems for Girona, integrating records management into its digital business processes, was groundbreaking and was seen by many colleagues in Europe and abroad as charting a new path forward.
But Joan is much more than the archivist of a small city. He is also the founding General Manager of the prize-winning Cinema Museum in Girona, unique in its field in Spain and one of the few of its kind in Europe. And he is the Director of the Research and Image Diffusion Centre, which he created in 1997. Led by Joan Boadas, it has hosted 17 international meetings on the preservation of the world’s audiovisual heritage. The next conference will be in November 2022, a benchmark event for professionals in photography and audiovisual heritage. And Joan assures that the papers from the conferences are published, giving worldwide access to them.
To advance the role of the International Council on Archives in relation to photographic and audiovisual heritage, in May 2009 the ICA appointed Joan Boadas i Raset as the Council’s Commissioner for audiovisual and photographic documentation. He created and led the Photographic and Audiovisual Archives Group (PAAG), which continues to produce information for the world’s archivists. Joan Boadas has had a special interest in promoting the identification and retention of local television and radio broadcasts, an emphasis that previously was overlooked in ICA. He has been the ICA official representative to the international CCAAA (Co-ordinating Council of Audiovisual Archivist Associations) and a member of ICA’s Programme Commission.
I am proud to have worked with Joan Boadas as he took on the task of preserving the audiovisual records of the Nuclear Claims Tribunal of the Marshall Islands, for which he and the city of Girona were given an official resolution of thanks by the Marshallese government.
Joan Boadas has written books and articles on archives. He has been President of the Catalan Archivist Association 2001-2005 and its representative on the ICA’s Section of Professional Association’s Steering Committee from 2004 to 2012. Fluent in Catalan, Spanish, French and English, he has given talks on audiovisual archives in many venues.
Joan Boadas is a worthy recipient of the 2022 Emmett Leahy Award.
If someone were to ask how being an archivist has helped me, the answer would be that it has allowed for a greater understanding of the enormous power of documents. Power for the benefit of administration and, therefore, institutions, businesses and people’s rights. Power to preserve memory. Power to avoid forgetting and, also, power itself because documents, archives, are an extraordinary tool for the future. Allow me to briefly expand on these ideas.
What has always struck me about people with serious memory disorders, Alzheimer's for example, is not only their inability to remember the past, but their inability to imagine the future: their condemnation is to live only in the present.
If we take this into the social sphere, it paints an extremely disturbing picture.
Can we imagine a society condemned only to exist in the present? A society
without memory, prevented from being able to construct its own future? We
know that individual memory is memory not only because it remembers but, fundamentally, because it forgets. However, humanity, since ancient times, has fought against collective amnesia by building repositories of memory, which ensure that future generations are able to imagine their future. Archives accumulate millions of memories from the past which, over the centuries, preserve the memories of those who have preceded us and who generously offer us the permanent adventure of inventing our future.
It is documents that allow us to know what others have already known, to see what others have already seen, to think what others have already thought. And those who will come after us will know, see and think many of the things that we now know, see and think. This is the antidote for preventing the peril of inhabiting an amnesiac world.
After all, are we to defend oblivion? Are we to be in favour of amnesiac amnesties in the face of aggressive violations of human rights? Or, and Trudy Peterson knows a lot about this, should we go to the archives and the documents to find out what happened, who was responsible, who suffered the consequences and, from there, open up to reconciliation? If you like, it is as simple as this: documents allow forgiveness, but also prevent forgetting.
We’ve just seen it: documents are the stuff of memory, even in this age of intangibility. And one could even say that they are Memory’s memory. And, for the most part, this memory has historically been in public hands. This circumstance has meant it has regulated, free and universal access. Will it be the same in the future? Are we not transferring, for the benefit of a few private companies, perhaps too unconsciously, the ownership, management and the policies of access and use of this vast body of knowledge that we are collectively creating?
And, of course, there is the big issue of hyperinflation in documentary production. Allow me to give an example of this in just one of the areas that have been the subject of my professional work: photographic heritage. From 1840 to 1860, just over four thousand daguerreotypes were made daily in the United States of America. In August 2017, Business Insider estimated that the still images produced worldwide that year would reach 1.2 trillion, or three thousand, two hundred and eighty-seven million, per day.
It is clear that, in the face of this new reality which affects documentary production as a whole, continual review of our professional role is required. I am convinced, however, that we will be able to respond to the challenges that we face, though we need to continually adapt our methodological tools because society demands it.
Future. This is a word I have repeated quite a few times in this speech. We should have no doubt about it: those of us who take care of the past must be at the vanguard of the future, precisely because it is up to us to preserve our present. And this is no joke, because without documents there is, and there will not be, knowledge. Perhaps everything would be better understood if, adapting an old Hindu proverb, we would convince ourselves that archives are not a gift from our parents, but a loan from our children.
I must end by expressing my deep gratitude to the Emmet Leahy Award Committee for this undeserved recognition I have receive