Access is the availability of records for consultation as a result both of legal authorization and the existence of finding aids.
Since 1994 the International Council on Archives (ICA) has published four standards on archival description: ISAD(G) in 1994, ISAAR(CPF) in 1996, ISDF in 2008, and ISDIAH in 2008. These standards cover finding aids, one of the two key elements of archival access; they have transformed the practice of description. This statement of Principles of Access to Archives (the Principles) focuses on the other element of access: the legal authority to consult archives.
The Principles of Access to Archives consists of 10 Principles with a commentary explaining each Principle; the Principles and the commentary taken together constitute the statement of professional practice. The Principles are accompanied by a brief glossary.
As a conclusion to their Annual General Meeting, the delegates from national archival institutions and professional associations adopted the text proposed by the ad hoc working group, under the leadership of Trudy Peterson, which had been in circulation among members for comments for a few months.