Summary — The First International Council on Archives Conference in Africa – Yaoundé 2018

The 2018 conference of the International Council on Archives (ICA) was held in Yaoundé, Cameroon, in November and as is customary, ACARM held its AGM during the conference. Although the AGM was well attended by members, only two of the executive were present, so the meeting was not quorate. Nevertheless, the meeting provided an opportunity for members to discuss the future and priorities of the association. (See the message from the Chair for more on this).

The ICA conference programme featured ACARM members prominently. One of the keynote speakers in the opening plenary session was ACARM member Prof. Justus Wamukoya of Moi University, Kenya. Speaking in his capacity as co-chair of the ICA’s Africa programme, he described the successes with the programme since it was launched in 2015. One of its deliverables was the Yaoundé conference itself – the first ICA annual onference in Africa since the end of the CITRA round table format.

The Forum of National Archivists (FAN) met during the conference. ACARM member Jeff James, the UK’s national archivist and the President of FAN, invited James Lowry, ACARM’s Chair, and Njörður Sigurðsson, the chair of the ICA’s Expert Group on Shared Archival Heritage, to talk to FAN about displaced archives, which was an opportunity to promote ACARM’s position paper on the Migrated Archives. Their presentations were well-received by the national archivists. Other ACARM members were heavily involved in a panel discussion on displaced archives, including the organiser of the panel, Mandy Banton, who co-authored ACARM’s position paper, and Prof Nathan Mnjama of the University of Botswana, who has been working on the question of migrated archives since the late 1970s.

After the conference finished, James Lowry joined Margaret Crockett to lead a two-day workshop on digital records management and preservation. They provided hands-on training in digital record-keeping methods, including file profiling, metadata cross-walking and preservation planning. The workshop was attended by approximately 20 people, many of them ACARM members from across Africa.

We look forward to seeing similar levels of ACARM participation in the next ICA conference, which will be held in Adelaide, Australia, 21 to 25 October 2019.

ACARM members David Fricker (ICA President and Director-General, National Archives of Australia), Bonface Odhiambo (Archivist, United States International University – Africa, Kenya) and Prof. Justus Wamukoya (Dean, School of Information Science, Moi University, Kenya)

Upcoming ACARM AGM, 2019 – Adelaide, Australia – 19-21 October

The next AGM will be held in magical Adelaide, Australia, between 19 and 21 October 2019. We hope many ACARM members will be able to join us!

The next AGM will be held in magical Adelaide, Australia, on 20 October 2019, from 13:00-15:00 at the University of Adelaide, in Barr Smith South Room 2052. We hope many ACARM members will be able to join us!

The agenda for the meeting is still TBD, but will involve a discussion on the Chair’s Message and consideration of ACARM’s future.

For further details regarding this conference, please see the ICA’s website at: .

ACARM at a Crossroads — Message from the Chair

A Message on the Future of ACARM from Chair, James Lowry…

ACARM is at a crossroads. ACARM was established in 1984 as a forum for Commonwealth archivists and records managers to share knowledge and collaborate on projects. Over 35 years, it has carried out a number of activities, but today the effort involved in sustaining the association is done almost entirely by a small handful of volunteers, and the only funding available comes through (declining) membership dues.

Since 2016, we have been working to reform the administration of the association. Margaret Procter has put the accounts in order, and Laura Millar, Robert Hillman and Chris Prince have revived the newsletter and website. Laura has also worked to expand the association’s reach through social media, including Facebook and Twitter.

We find, though, that we must ask important questions about the sustainability of ACARM in its current form. With the last set of meeting papers, you received an options report prepared by Laura suggesting directions ACARM could take if it is to survive.

At the 2018 AGM in Yaoundé, there was widespread support for the continuation of the association, but there were diverse views – and no consensus – on the form the association should take. However, while there were quite a few ACARM members present, the meeting was not quorate because only two members of the executive were in attendance.

At the forthcoming AGM in Adelaide, currently scheduled for 19 or 20 October 2019, we are going to put the options Laura has outlined to a vote. If there is no quorum or, again, no consensus on a future direction, the Executive Board will have to take a decision about how ACARM proceeds.

The question for you, ACARM’s members, is this: Do you want the association to survive? If so, what would be its role, activities, and scope? What role will you, ACARM’s members, play in supporting that work?

Before the 2019 AGM takes place, I am asking ACARM members to signal their interest in ACARM and their willingness to support the association into the future by actively engaging in the work of the association. You can do this in a number of ways:

1. You can write articles for the newsletter – including information about your institution’s activities, research you have conducted or your opinions and ideas about any manner of archival issue. Please send any submissions to our newsletter editor Robert Hillman at We welcome all types of contributions, short or long.

2. You can share news from your countries, institutions and communities that she can share through our social media accounts. Please send any news to Laura Millar at, contact her through the ACARM Facebook page or share your news via Twitter at @ACARMhq.

3. You can send project ideas to me at to consider ACARM
endorsement. Send me your ideas for projects that you would like to deliver in your countries or regions, along with information about how you intend to get funding to support them. I will work hard to see if ACARM can play a role in supporting your initiatives, either through active participation or by promoting your event through our social media networks and newsletter.

4. You can volunteer for the executive board or you can help carry out specific
ACARM duties, such as helping with membership management and dues payments,
helping to edit the newsletter, or assisting with other administrative duties. Many current members of the executive plan to step down from their positions in 2019 or 2020, and the association will need new people to take on those important roles by the time of the 2020 meeting if not by the time we meet in Adelaide in 2019.

This is a critical moment for ACARM. If you still believe that ACARM is a useful mechanism for exchanging information, collaborating, and supporting our Commonwealth archival community, 35 years after its establishment, then you, the association’s members, must start to participate in and make use of your association much more actively.

I look forward to hearing from you.


James Lowry,

Chair, ACARM

Summary of the ACARM Annual General Meeting 2017 – Mexico City

ACARM’s last annual general meeting was held at the ICA’s ALA-ICA conference in Mexico City, Mexico 25 November 2017.

At the meeting, members reviewed and revised ACARM’s constitution, adopted the Association’s Position Paper on Migrated Archives, and discussed options for new directions for the Association to broaden membership, offer more diverse member services, and share communications as widely as possible, including through social media as well as a reinvigorated website.

Among the attendees at the AGM were ACARM members from the UK, Canada, Sri Lanka, Jamaica and Swaziland.

The 2018 AGM will be held in beautiful Yaoundé, Cameroon, on 24 November 2018. We hope many ACARM members will be able to join us!

2017-11-25 12.13.54.jpg