ACA Conference 2016: Builders of Bridges

Hi everyone, this the Musée Héritage Museum’s archivist, Vino, back again to share my experiences at the Association of Canadian Archivists’ 41st annual conference that took place earlier this year in Montréal from June 1-4. The conference was entitled “Futur proche: Archives & Innovation”, which consisted of sessions that concentrated on technological innovations, its implementation in the archives, and what these new innovations mean for the profession.   

ACA Conference 2016


This conference theme was interesting for me because I recognize the growing new trends in our field, but at the same time hold respect for traditional aspects in our profession. So it was with curiosity that I wanted to see how others in the field are building the bridge between the two areas.


The opening keynote speaker was Peter Van Garderen, the original developer of the open-source Archivematica and ICA-AtoM software that’s being used to manage archival holdings around the world today. The Musée Héritage Museum’s own archives database is based on AtoM.

Van Garderen gave a great history of technological innovation, starting with things like pictographs and stone tablets used for early communication to the advent of microfilm readers, rolling shelves, and climate controlled storage in the archives. The most dramatic of innovation has come through the digital revolution, leading to things like automated finding aids, digitization of archival materials, and cloud storage (although it’s still on someone’s system somewhere)!

Van Garderen is a proponent that our need for technology needs to be balanced with our personal & emotional needs. He believes that archivists should be leading the innovation, rather than waiting for it to come to us. Archivists’ knowledge and skill set can help build the bridge from current practices to new development. This plenary set a nice tone for the remainder of the conference sessions.

An ancient Middle Eastern archives (below)

An ancient Middle Eastern archives


Stone tablets as means of communication


Going forward in these blog series, I will highlight a few of the interesting sessions I attended such as archivists as activists, exploring new media, and looking at documenting marginalized groups (a topic I see coming up often). Lastly I will look at my visit to the Grey Nuns Archives in Montréal, which has a special connection to St. Albert.


Stone tablets as means of communication (above)