The archive community in Israel is a diverse one. Some archivists have academic degrees in the field and some have studied the profession in colleges one day a week for a year and a half. Others have taken a basic course comprising fourteen sessions, including visits to the major archives. The non-academic courses are run by the Association of Israeli Archivists (AIA) and a compulsory requirement of each course is that every student arranges a suitable internship in an approved archive for a minimum amount of time.
Israeli archivists work in a variety of archives, for example in government bodies, the private sector and in small communities scattered all over the country. Many of those working in the archives of approximately 1,000 rural communities are volunteers, who have limited access to academic studies and vocational training. As well as being members of the national AIA, this last group of archivists have established their own association that operates throughout the country from the Galilee in the north to Eilat in the south. This association, in cooperation with the AIA, decided to launch a pilot project to ascertain the demand for, and the effectiveness of regional training courses for its members.
The aim of the course was to refresh existing knowledge of the principles of the profession and to provide updates on recent innovations. A study program was prepared for use in four centers in the country’s outlying areas, where many of the archivists reside: in the upper Galilee, the western Galilee, the south and the north of the country. Instead of the students traveling to the center of the country, the lecturers would travel to the periphery enabling more members to participate and acquire both theoretical and practical knowledge. The opportunity to meet other archivists is seen as no less important for sharing knowledge and forming professional work and interpersonal relationships.
The topics for the training courses were decided on in light of the results of a preparatory survey conducted among the AIA’s members by its Professional Training and Enrichment Committee. They included handling and digitization of various archival materials, legal and ethical aspects of archival management, hierarchical structure of archives, archiving descriptive fields, arrangement and recording of archival materials, pre-requisites for digitization of documents, photos and audio-visual materials, oral and audio-visual documentation, combining audio-visual documentation with the local community narrative, for community empowerment and training community-based documentation teams.
A total of 12 days of training were held and a large group of archivists participated. Their enthusiasm was reflected in the feedback survey conducted after the training courses.
Once the feedback survey has been analysed and a project summary is prepared by the project’s steering committee, the next stage of the project will be planned and submitted to the AIA’s board of directors for consideration and approval.
Dr. Aharon Azati