This post is based on the original post on the Facebook page, “Archive of Tamils in Norway”, on 25th June 2020.
What is archival material?
According to Norwegian archival law, a document is a logically defined amount of information stored on a medium for later reading, listening, displaying or transmission (“ei logisk avgrensa informasjonsmengd som er lagra på eit medium for seinare lesing, lyding, framsyning eller overføring”.) And record/ archive documents that have been created by or have come into an activity as part of an enterprise’s solution, case management and administration. (“dokument som vert til som lekk i ei verksemd»)
Traditionally, a document refers to a paper. But from the electronic era, a document is technology-neutral and independent. So, an archival document can be found in a variety of information carriers. They can for instance be readable text on paper, digital material in databases, maps, drawings, photos, film, audiotapes and more. The difference between “பதிவேடு” and “ஆவணம்” is (1) active archive “பதிவேடு”, which is in daily use in the organisation that creates the archive (records creator/ பதிவேட்டை உருவாக்கியவர்) and (2) terminated, historical archive “ஆவணம்”, an ie archive that is out of the use of the records creator. So, old and terminated archives that are around 5-8 years old are given to an archival institution.
Below are a few examples of different kinds of documents. Please note that I have only taken a few examples to demonstrate different kinds of information carriers.
Document: Letter Records creator/ பதிவேட்டு உருவாக்குனர்: Norwegian Tamil Health Organisation Traditionally, this will be on paper. But now it is published digitally. This is an example of an active archive at the organization. This document is still relevant and in use.): Arkivskaper:
Document: Photo Records creator/ பதிவேட்டு உருவாக்குனர்: Muthamil Arivalaiyam (Tamil school in Oslo). Photographer: unknown
Document: Photo Records creator/ பதிவேட்டு உருவாக்குனர்: Prateesh Memography (Photographer) Independent photographer´s photo of Tamil Murasam radio event in Oslo.
Document: Graphic Records creator/ பதிவேட்டு உருவாக்குனர்: Kri Thirunavukkarasu The artist has created graphics for a different cause and organization.
Document: Booklet Records creator/ பதிவேட்டு உருவாக்குனர்: Norway Tamil Sangam (Organisation) (preserved at the online archive, Noolaham. This is an example for the terminated archive that is at an archival institution.)
Document: Web page (Article) Records creator/ பதிவேட்டு உருவாக்குனர்: Namathumalayagam (An article about Norway Tamil Sangam by Namathumalayagam)
Document: audiovisual Records creator/ பதிவேட்டு உருவாக்குனர்: Thainilam Kalaiyakam This is a documentary film created in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of Annai Poopathi Tamil Cultural Center. This is a Tamils school in Oslo.
Document: Audiovisual Records creator/ பதிவேட்டு உருவாக்குனர்: Vaseeharan Creations Even if the interviewee is a Candian Tamil, the production belongs to a Norway based organization because it was created by a Norway based organization. Therefore this document should be archived in Norway.
Document: Audio Records creator/ பதிவேட்டு உருவாக்குனர்: Tamil Education Development Council An organisation based in France. Produces teaching materials for Diaspora Tamils.
As you can see, apart from “Norway Tamil Sangam anniversary booklet 1983” (1983), all other records are only available on social media and websites. All activities are at record creation lever (பதிவேடு). But they need to be progressed to archive (ஆவணம்). If the website shut down or the social media block or lose the content, the materials will be lost forever. Unless the individuals have a backup or original at their home. Another problem with materials that are spread across social media and on the internet is that it is tremendous time consuming to search for materials. Most of the time, the person would not find the appropriate material. On the other hand, it will be disorganized and can be unreliable. If the materials end up in an archival institution, they will be gathered in one place. It will save time and effort. Archive preserved in every country will become an archival heritage for Tamils all over the world. They will be social documentation for Tamils.
It is noticeable that Tamils have re-started to discuss preserving the archive of Tamils. The internal and social discussions will help Tamils to find an appropriate solution on how and where to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of Tamils. But please don´t forget that without records captured and stored at organizations (பதிவேடு), there will be no archive (ஆவணம்).