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Putting the international in ARMA International.

ARMA currently has approximately 350 members in more than 30 countries outside North America. Three years ago, ARMA brought as many of these members together as possible at its first International Day program at the annual conference. The one-day program has afforded many of our international members an opportunity to share their international perspective on archives and records. It has also facilitated communication with ARMA.

Many of the issues that emerged during the International Day discussions in Las Vegas in 2000 became the focus of ARMA International's International Relations Committee (IRC). In its January 2001 meeting, the IRC focused on building an understanding of the strategic role of international affairs in accomplishing ARMA's mission and on defining an effective strategy for international activities. This strategy could then be used as a "litmus test" for addressing tactical issues.

The IRC identified several basic challenges to this effort, most notably cultural and language differences, communications, and funding. Each issue was discussed in terms of identifying success indicators, integration into the association's overall strategic operational plan, and hurdles and risks and what means are necessary to overcome them.

Out of this discussion came recommended strategies regarding

* international seminars

* cultural issues

* partnerships

* language

* International Ambassadors

* communication

* funding

The top three recommendations were to

* maximize relationships with the International Council on Archives (ICA)

* expand services by offering content in French and Spanish, particularly on the Web site

* ask the ARMA board to allocate resources to international initiatives

Underlying ARMA's international strategy is a decision by the board several years ago to focus on building collaborative relationships to help us serve the diverse international market.

Perhaps the defining milestone was the "Accord" agreement ARMA entered into in 1996 with ICA and the International Records Management Trust (IRMT). The Accord established ARMA's cooperative relationship with ICA, the world's most influential and credible echelon of archivists and records managers from nearly 200 countries. Developing a working relationship with ICA is the most important step that could be taken to gain worldwide visibility and exposure for ARMA.

The IRMT is still functioning today, albeit on a more limited basis. The Accord, still loosely in effect, remains an initiative where ARMA is working primarily with ICA.

ARMA's involvement with ICA is a long-term commitment of collaboration and participation. For the past few years, ARMA's sitting president has participated in the ICA's annual meeting (CITRA) of national archivists from around the world. We also participate in several ICA committee and sections.

In 2000, ARMA exhibited in ICA's quadrennial Congress and participated in various committee meetings and the Congress sessions themselves. In the spring of 2001, ARMA had the privilege of addressing the United Nations assembly and the European Conference on Records and Archives.

Unfortunately, the events of this past year curtailed ARMA's activity abroad, particularly in ICA. In August, however, Larry Eiring--a past president and a member of ICA's Archival Education Committee--represented ARMA in the ICA educational conference held in Australia.

Looking ahead, ICA has invited ARMA to play a leading role in the development and delivery of the upcoming quadrennial Congress program in 2004 in Vienna. Also, through its involvement in the ICA Section on Professional Associations (SPA), ARMA is developing archival and records management conferences in San Jose, Costa Rica, and Singapore in 2003. Each conference is being cosponsored by ICA, the SPA, the respective ICA regional infrastructure closest to the venues, and the National Archives of Costa Rica and Singapore, respectively. These offerings explore new territory, but ARMA is venturing into the effort with its ears wide open to make sure that we're cognizant of our partners' needs as well as providing the content that is wanted and needed.

In addition to the ICA collaborations, ARMA has recommitted itself to the International Ambassadors program. ARMA's five Ambassadors represent the association within their vast respective geographies. They maintain communications with allied organizations within their areas and keep aware, as best they can, of major issues impacting the global archival and records management community.

With all this activity, it's going to be a lively and interesting "International Day" in New Orleans. Those gathered will be able to suggest program content for the international conferences in Costa Rica and Singapore. International Day is Sunday, September 30 in New Orleans.

Collaboration, cooperation, and pragmatism will be the hallmarks of ARMA's future international activity. Guarded and reasonable expectations are the standard. The long-term results will benefit the individual as well as the worldwide community of archivists and records managers. The correct application of resources and policy will ensure ARMA's gradual increase in influence and stature within the profession worldwide.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Association of Records Managers & Administrators (ARMA)
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Title Annotation:Recommended strategies include international seminars
Publication:Information Management Journal
Geographic Code:00WOR
Date:Sep 1, 2002
Previous Article:The year in perspective.
Next Article:SII: an open letter to ARMA members.

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