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Jordi Sequero, CEHIC - UAB

"Spain's new Scientific Archives Service: Building on the Catalan "Servei d'Arxius de Ciència"

1. Present situation

I should like to begin by explaining the development situation of our project and the changes that have occurred in the last few months. This is due to the political situation in our state, one state with various nations inside, different science and archive cultures and, above all, the two public sponsors etc. The previous project as detailed by Xavier Roqué during our last meeting in Edinburgh, has been divided into two:

- Servei d’Arxius de Ciència (SAC): is a service in Catalan, in Catalonia and Catalan speaking regions, it was established three years ago and it continues to develop.

- Archivos de Ciencia (AC): a service in Spanish, in Spain, including Catalonia, which is in the development stage.

In spite of the previous differences, these projects have the same objectives.

The main objective, by which we initiated this project, is to find the science collections and display them on our web page, the treatment of these science archives, if the repository centre is not able to treat them, to raise public consciousness of the significance of this kind of material, and, also, connect the science and archivist worlds.

Finally, one of the most important objectives is to arouse awareness in the existing archive service of science collections which have an uncertain fate, above all the personal archives, due to the Spanish Intellectual Property Law: These collections are not the property of the research or academic centres, and, for this reason, if scientists retire and resign etc. they can carry their archive with them. Sometimes, this material is kept in bad and “invisible” conditions which would mean they are certain to disappear.

Our obvious model is the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists (NCUACS).

2. Servei d’Arxius de Ciencia (SAC)

SAC stands for “Scientific Archive Service” and is a project developed by the Centre d’Estudis d’Història de les Ciències (CEHIC). This project has various sponsors, such as Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Institut d’Estudis Catalans (IEC) and Subdirecció d’Arxius (Catalonia’s government). You may ask why this project was born in a research centre (CEHIC) and not in the Catalonia efficient Archive Service or the new National Archive. The answer to this question is complex, although, we can highlight some factors:

Mainly, as research centre we need to know the information about the localisation and access condition of these collections.

The specialised treatment of this material, which may be neglected in the general archives dedicated to other kinds of collections.

Another important reason is our desire to avoid the loss of the science archives, which may be destined to disappear due to their specific and technical features, the absence of specific centres and science culture etc.

At the same time we must raise awareness of the conservation and use of the Catalan language in the science world.

And finally, greater significance outside of the academic business, thereby, keeping in touch with the science community.

Activities, problems and SOLUTIONS

As I said before, SAC works very hard to achieve its objectives. However, in the beginning it was not easy and we encountered many problems for some of which we still have not found the solution.

The first element to take into account is the difficulty of finding science archives and also, the dispersion of this material due to the aforementioned Spanish intellectual property law, on other hand, the scientists or scientific institutions believe it is not necessary to leave these collections in the archive centres for their conservation, treatment etc. Above all, they are not aware of this possibility.  For this reason it is generally perceived that we wish to take out the archives and create a new thematic archive of sciences.  In order to solve these problems we have to do a special search for these collections, send information, and most importantly, to perform informative visits regarding our work and services.

The second most important problem is the difficult treatment, due to the specific themes, such as mathematics, physics and biology etc. To overcome this we have to train our personnel in science studies, although they must improve in other areas such as languages and technology, nevertheless, our personnel have a technical degree in archivist studies from the archivist school (ESAGED), which is a pioneer degree in Spain.

3. Archivos de Ciencia (AC)

AC means “Scientific Archive unit” and is a parallel project, SAC, with the same objectives but with fewer services, at present.

The successful results that SAC has obtained has led to the creation of this new unit at state level by the concession of the grant given by the “Programa Nacional de Fomento de la Cultura Científica y Tecnologica” in the national plan of I+D+I 2004-2007 by Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia (Spain).  As mentioned previously, at present AC has one main function, to search for information about science collections in Spain. To develop this, we designed a two phase plan: In the first phase we must obtain information regarding the science collections in the most important archive institutions at state level, and then, do an extensive search through the archives, libraries and foundations. But, this time with the information from the previous centres as a reference for the other institutions.  Once we have this information, we input it in our web page with new and improved features:

This includes all four official languages of Spain and English. This means we can extend the project and, also, respect all state languages. This, also has a new and improved database with more information. Finally, we have designed a new institutional image, which is more modern and friendly.

4. Future Projects

If we are able to consolidate these two services we will expand and improve our projects, and, with this, give greater quality to our users.  Initially we will conduct more incisive research of the science collections, both, at state and international level. At the same time, orient those collections to appropriate centres for their future conservation and treatment.  Another future project is to create a new database with the biographies of all Spanish scientists. Our model to develop this has been the “Bright Sparcs” project at the University of Melbourne.

Another important element to take into account is the creation of a series of training courses for scientists and, with this, to raise awareness of the importance of the archives in the field of science. We must not to forget the relationship of the SAC with other research and academic projects.  Finally, we are seeking private financial support to develop, improve and create new services. We lack the know how to go about finding the support we need.

5. Answering the questions

 -Are SAC and AC co-ordinated?

As I said before, now we have two services AC and SAC. The first is an extension at state level of the second, both developed by the same institution, CEHIC. Hence, these two services are co-ordinated and share the same information and personnel but with different web sites and financial support.

-Have SAC and AC had problems to orient the archive collections?

Now, in Catalonia, we do not have any problems, due to the existence of an important web of municipal, local archives and a new National Archive. All of these are recorded in the national archives register, which is very important for the future preservation of these collections and also to consolidate our project.

At state level we have yet to study the situation.

-Why do we have the support of the Spanish ministry?

This situation is due to the non-existence of other projects such as ours and, above all, the successful results of SAC.

-Will the training courses be for the professional scientist or for the science students?     

The training courses are still a project. They will be oriented towards professional scientists although we must work with the science students as well, in relation to whom, the importance of the archives in the science field is explained by Xavier Roque in his university and doctoral classes. 

-Who is the owner of the scientific archives at Barcelona’s University-UAB?

Due to the Spanish Intellectual Property Law the owner of the scientific archives is not the UAB, although the scientists work there.

-More information about the Spanish intellectual property Law

Real legislative decree 1/1996, 12th April, changed for the Law 5/1998, 6th March.

Intellectual property means the legal rights which result from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary and artistic fields.

Intellectual property includes literary, artistic or scientific creation exclusive right to exploit within the limits stated by the law.

Intellectual property is traditionally divided into two branches, "industrial property" and "copyright".

The author is the creator of literary, artistic or scientific creations. The intellectual property right of the work created corresponds to its author. Object of Intellectual property are the original works in the literary, artistic or scientific field. Scientific work is the object of intellectual property.