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View from the City Archives office in Tel Aviv City Hall

​View from the City Archives office in Tel Aviv City Hall

LMA shares best practice with city archives in Israel

It is important to record the international regard with which London is held, particularly in the archive world, where London Metropolitan Archives’ facilities and activities are regularly cited as examples of best practice.

In his International Council on Archives role, as President of the Section on Local Municipal and Territorial Archives, Assistant Director of LMA, Tim Harris, over the last May Bank Holiday weekend in 2019, had the privilege of representing LMA and the City of London Corporation at a meeting of the Section hosted in Tel Aviv and Haifa, Israel by Michal Henkin and Larisa Schnitkind.

As Chair of this committee, which speaks on behalf of city archives worldwide, it was good to hear of progressive developments for city and community archives in various cities including Tel Aviv, Rotterdam, Aarhus and Melbourne. It gave me an opportunity to shout a little bit about LMA’s involvement with exciting projects such as Unlocking our Sound Heritage, Layers of London and perhaps some of our less well-known ventures such as the annual Disability History Conference.

Seeing the hard work of archivists at Tel Aviv City Hall on a Sunday - the archive office is on the top floor and the City Archivist’s Office has a view of the Mediterranean - it was good to have a meeting of minds over the importance of archives management of modern departmental city records. As a very young city basically built on sand dunes by 66 families in apportioned lots, Tel Aviv is nevertheless proud of its heritage. After the first meeting we were treated to a walking tour of the Bauhaus architecture brought to the area by German architects in the 1920s and 1930s.

On Sunday evening I met with representatives of the Israeli National Association of Archivists and the Israeli Association of Municipal Archivists in the old port city of Jaffa (or Joppa in the Bible - think Jonah and the whale). I came away with the impression that although there were many diverse local and community archives in Israel there was a good support network amongst professionals, some of whom were working under difficult political circumstances and with limited resources.

On the Monday we held day two of our meeting in Haifa, where the small isolated archive building is near the historic German Colony and the Baha’i Shrine. Coping with extreme environmental conditions is quite a challenge for the city archivist but there was a keenness to engage with fellow archivists to talk about best practice.

On the way to Haifa we stopped off to see one of those small-town archives at Zikhron Ya’akov and heard from archivist Liron Gurfinkel how they rely on volunteers to keep their service running. It seems like some issues are universal, and even there the storage of mayoral gifts was a concern. Of greater immediate concern was the temperature of 36 degrees so we adjourned for an ice cream.

As Chair of this international committee I believe it is important that we do try to be as inclusive as possible and our visit to Israel was much appreciated by the local archivists who were keen to talk with international colleagues about professional issues such as data protection, licensing, copyright and digital preservation. I am very grateful to the City of London for giving me the chance to participate (and no, I didn’t stay for Eurovision!)

17 July 2019
Last Modified:
23 July 2019