On the occasion of the visit to Latvia of Ian Wilson, president of the International Council on Archives (ICA), the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted a seminar on ”Archives and Memory Institutions” in Riga on Aug. 31, 2009.
The seminar was jointly arranged by the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Latvian National Commission for UNESCO, and the Directorate General of Latvia State Archives.
The participants were welcomed by Andris Vilks, director of the Latvian National Library, and Valdis Štāls, director general of the Directorate General of Latvia State Archives.
In his keynote paper ”Opportunities and models for library and archive cooperation in enhancing the role of the memory institutions”, Ian Wilson talked about the problems and possibilities of memory institutions, stressing the necessity of cooperation and the importance of new perspectives. He also touched upon the experience of restructuring the Canadian Archives and the National Library into the Library and Archives Canada (LAC). Mr. Wilson served as director general of the LAC and as National Archivist of Canada until the spring of 2009.
After the coffee break it was time for a panel discussion on the subject of ”Archive as an active cultural heritage institution for society”. The representatives of the Baltic state archives Inta Feldmane (Directorate General of Latvia State Archives, head of Acquisition and Records Management Department), Priit Pirsko (Estonian state archivist), and Vidas Grigoraitis (director general of the Lithuanian Archives Department) talked about the recent developments of the Baltic state archives in the field of information technology and about the situation during the present recession. Gatis Karlsons, deputy director general of the Directorate General of the Latvia State Archives talked about cooperation between institutions from the perspective of the Latvian Society of Archivists.
The second part of the panel was dedicated to the role of non-profit organizations in the cooperation between memory institutions. Juozas Markauskas, president of the Baltic Audiovisual Archival Council, touched upon the cooperation between Baltic and Nordic audiovisual archives. Piret Noorhani, president of Baltic Heritage Network, introduced the activities of the above-mentioned organization concerning itself with the cultural heritage of the Baltic diaspora. Andris Vilks (director of the Latvian National Library), Algirdas Plioplys (vice-director of the Lithuanian National Library), and Mihkel Reial (technology director of the Estonian National Library) gave overviews of the present situation and future prospects of the Baltic national libraries.
After the seminar the participants paid a visit to the Latvian State Historical Archives and to the construction site of the Latvian National Library. The impressive library building on the bank of the River Daugava, popularly called the Castle of Light, should be completed in 2012.