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Anita Hollier

"Future proofing High Energy Physics: The CERN Archive"

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, was established in 1954. It is the world's largest particle physics laboratory, employing over 2,500 people, with 6,500 visiting scientists using CERN’s facilities, which include the 27km circular accelerator

It is an international organization funded by its member states.  It is in a unique regulatory environment, governed by the CERN Council.  CERN has a keen sense of its noble mission: ‘CERN is not just another laboratory. It is an institution that has been entrusted with a noble mission which it must fulfil not just for tomorrow but for the eternal history of human thought’ (Albert Picot, Geneva, 10 June 1955).

 CERN Archives

In April 1979, the CERN Committee of Council launched a project to write the History of CERN and, in the process, to create the CERN Historical Archives.  In November 1980, the Director-General requested division leaders to make source material available to the CERN Historical Archives and to appoint Divisional Records Officers.  The next step was a proposal in April 1988 to ‘upgrade’ the CERN Archive. In

 September 1988, the Directorate set up an ‘ad hoc committee to establish a policy and procedures for the archives of CERN’.  The next significant progress was made with the 1997

CERN Operational Circular N° 3: ‘Rules applicable to archival material and archiving at CERN’.  This laid down an archives policy for CERN.

Each division leader is to nominate in an official function a Divisional Records Officer, to whom the authority for implementing a records management and archiving plan within the division is delegated.  The DRO is empowered to advise his division on the creation of intermediate divisional archives and is to identify archival material.

There are some advantages to an archivist working at CERN.
• There is a sense of mission
• The scientists have duty to publish
• It is a well-documented discipline
• There is an opportunity to improve records management practices
 
Against this the challenges are:

·Insufficient resources
·The need for records management is not clear to those working at CERN
·CERN’s unique regulatory environment means it is not governed by archival regulations of either France or Switzerland

The prevailing culture is publication-oriented and the archival value of non-published material is often unappreciated.

The way forward
 
The first priority is backlog processing.  The next steps are to provide guidelines and practical assistance for DROs, and to develop a policy for electronic records.  In response to the challenge of electronic records two CERN Working groups were set up, and their main recommendations are the ‘pre-archiving’ of E-mail, the archiving of Web pages (the World Wide Web was invented at CERN) and to define and implement a CERN-wide document-handling policy.




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