Sunday, 9 September 2007

Course for Librarians and Archivists

3 - 7 September 2007 . The staff of the Capuchin Central Library conducted the seventh annual course for Librarians working in Capuchin libraries. For the first time, the course included archivists. On Tuesday morning, we had the pleasure of a guided tour through the Secret Vatican Archives. While not for beginners, the course for Archivists (which I attended) was very useful in many respects. A range of topics included the history of the Capuchin General Historical Archives as well as description of its architecture (schematization) and a thorough introduction to the physical archives themselves, housed at the Capuchin International College of Saint Lawrence of Brindisi in Rome. The archivists, and would be archivists, also received a thorough introduction to the General International Standard Archival Description or ISAD(G) and the software produced by the Italian Episcopal Conference for application to Church Historical Archives in Italy. Apart from permitting a standardisation of archival descriptions, the CEIr will also make possible a general index of the Church's patrimony in historical archives in Italy. The librarians and archivists also enjoyed some combined sessions for discussion. Of particular interest (to me at least) was the practical presentation regarding the restoration and conservation of manuscripts and other old books. Among the issues raised in the general forum: the need to raise awareness of the serious questions concerning the state of the cultural heritage of the Capuchin Fraternity, especially in jurisdictions that can no longer manage their archives and libraries. This problem is serious in places where the Fraternity is experiencing manpower shortages. In most, if not all cases, these jurisdictions are those with the longest histories. We owe it to the future to safeguard and promote these cultural and historical assets.

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