National Archives chief David Fricker elected to lead the world in record keeping

Photo: National Archives of Australia director-general David Fricker.

The head of National Archives of Australia (NAA) David Fricker has become the first Australian to be elected into the prestigious position of President of the International Council on Archives (ICA).

Hoping to draw upon Mr Fricker’s comprehensive track record at managing historical information, the Paris-based organisation voted Mr Fricker into its highest post after being on its executive board since 2012.

When the incumbent Martin Berendse from the National Archives of the Netherlands vacates the role in October 2014, Mr Fricker will take the mantle and serve a four-year term.

Once in the role, Mr Fricker will lead the international non-governmental organisation that brings together archival institutions and practitioners from across the globe to advocate for good archival management that protects historical records at the highest standards.

He’ll be busy taking on this additional role as he also presently serves as president of the Forum of National Archivists (FAN), but his experience at the NAA means he is no stranger to the new challenges that governments face in preserving their records in a new and untamed digital landscape.

Mr Ficker said in this digital world, it is vital that archival organisations work collaboratively on a world-wide basis to face the challenges posed in preserving electronic records and making them available in a form that fuels the new digital economy.

“I feel very privileged to have been appointed as president-elect of the ICA,” Mr Fricker said.

He said it is recognition of the key role Australia plays in the international archival community and, in particular, its partnerships with Asian archival institutions.

The ICA will have a lot of experience to draw upon when Mr Fricker moves into the President’s office, given his professional background in the field of archival preservation in the brave new world of digital conservation.

In September 2012, he firmly warned that digital records are at risk of vanishing as obsolete technology can potentially render digitised documents inaccessible for future generations.

This challenge comes from the fact that computer technology is always in a state of flux and new digital formats could leave old ones inoperable.

As head of the Archives, Mr Fricker has had to prepare the Australian public sector for these great unknowns by creating new practices for public sector managers and record keepers.

This included setting a digital deadline of 2015 where every government organisation will be required to deliver all electronically generated information in digital formats instead of printing out official documents.

Mr Fricker then focused on educating government information managers to deal with the new challenges they face in the rapidly changing world of digital information in a new course called ‘DIGITAL’.

Launched in March 2014, the DIGITAL course is a part of the federal government’s Digital Transition Strategy, which is intended to adapt information managers to new digital-based practices.

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