Erasmus group in Croatian State Archives (CSA)
On the 7th of September the Erasmus group went to the Croatian State Archives (CSA) and we want to share some information about it. We started our visit with a guide outside of the building and the first thing we saw were the owls at the top of the building which represent wisdom and knowledge. The architecture of the building is very symbolic and typical for the beginning of the 20th century, the so called Secession.
The CSA is the central archival institution in the Republic of Croatia. It performs archival services related to archival and current records created by state bodies, state and public institutions and enterprises, corporate bodies, and families and individuals whose activity covers the whole or a greater part of Croatia, or is of national interest. In order to make the memories of the Croatian nation available to the public as much as possible, the Croatian State Archives provide access to its documents under equal conditions for all researchers.
When we got inside we went to a large hall where we heard about the history of the monument and also about the history of the archiving profession. The interior of the building is divided into six main parts: atrium, main reading room, small reading room, professor’s reading room, cataloguing room and room for borrowing books. One of the rooms was undergoing restoration and it is interesting to know that was a first repainting of the room for one hundred years.
The building is decorated with the artwork of many well-known Croatian artists. For example, above the doors of the five main parts (excluding the atrium) there are pictures of Croatian cities – Jajce, Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Đakovo and Senj.
In the cataloging room we got brochures and information about the access and use and reading room rules. Today, the Archives holds more than 23.500 linear meters of archival records, dating from the 10th century to the present day and arranged into more than 1.850 archival funds and collections, more than 8 million microfilms and scans from various archives and other institutions from home and abroad and film and audiovisual material which is kept by the Croatian Film Archives Department.
Modern archival services in Croatia operate under the authority of the Ministry of Culture. The history of the State Archives can be traced back to 1643 when the archives were merely a chest containing terrestrial acts, charters, laws, privileges and the accompanying inventory.
The main reading room is the most beautiful room in the CSA. It is special for its lamps, chandelier and particularly its paintings. All the lamps are handmade as well as the chandelier with its crystals. This is the reason why the room is so bright.
Since its beginnings the CSA has developed into an autonomous institution for keeping and processing archival records. In 1913 a building on Marulić Square was built solely for the purposes of the National and University Library and the CSA. However, in 1994 the National and University Library moved to a new building, so this Secession jewel was left to the CSA.
We also liked the virtual walk opportunities offered on the CSA’s web site, meaning you can visit the whole building online. In addition to its official website, the Croatian State Archives are also available on the most popular social network – Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hrvatski-dr%C5%BEavni-arhiv-HDA/124359250912928).
Archival and library materials can only be used in the CSA’s reading rooms. Access and use of archival materials are determined by the Law on Archival Records and Archives Regulations for the use of archives, and Regulations for the use of the CSA Reading Rooms. Users can take a look at these documents on the CSA website or obtain them from either the Reference Service or in reading rooms.
Before arriving, or when first arriving to the CSA Reading Room, the user should contact the person in the Reference Service responsible for the use of archival records, and fill out the Researcher Application form for the use of archival records.
Another interesting feature of the CSA is the restoration laboratory located in the basement of the building. It is the largest restoration laboratory in Croatia. Apart from the laboratory other separate units specializing in different types of archival services, e.g. film archives, were also founded during the last 40 years.
Users can prepare themselves via the internet, through the national archival information system ARHiNET (http://arhinet.arhiv.hr/index.aspx) where they can find data about all archival funds and collections, creators, holders, special collections (charters, photographs, registry books, etc.), search aids and more than 120.000 available digital records of the most important and most used documents. The CSA library catalogue containing more than 160.000 volumes, BiblioNET, is also available on the Internet (http://biblionet.arhiv.hr/).
Finally, the CSA is also one of the main institutions for professional training of archivists as well as lifelong learning opportunities in this area. Therefore, it regularly organizes workshops, seminars, classes and other educational programs in the area of archival services and documentation management. It also organizes state exams for acquiring licenses to work as an archival professional.
The task of the archives as public authorities is to ensure the protection of records of enduring importance to the business and official purposes and as legal evidence. On the other hand, they provide access to archival material, regardless of the time, place and public memory of the events that document.
Now, we can understand all the importance of this kind of organization. It really preserves our heritage, and this is not so easy, as we can see in the restoration floor. So we can say that the Croatian State Archives gratifies both our eyes and our professional curiosity.
For more information see: http://www.arhiv.hr/en/index.htm