May 07, 2013

2013 Australasian Mercy Archivists’ Conference

27 participants from as far afield as Perth and Townsville in Australia, and Dunedin and Christchurch in Aotearoa New Zealand, gathered recently at Te Wahanga Atawhai Mercy Conference Centre Wellington, NZ, for the 2013 Mercy Archivists’ Conference which is held biennially. Archivists were not only from congregation archives but also from Mercy facilities.

There was a real buzz as colleagues who had already met greeted one another and those for whom the conference was a first were brought into the archives circle. Our keynote speaker, Mary Sullivan rsm, spoke about “Catherine’s Story and Its Continuation” and on “How Archivists May Assist Researchers”. She transfixed us all with her energy for Catherine and our following of the way of Mercy. She encouraged us as archivists to capture the Sisters’ stories from today, especially to do with our work with refugees and migrants which is a cutting edge ministry with the poor and vulnerable in Australasia. Mary also spoke of the value of oral archives recordings of our senior sisters so their immense contribution to the Mercy story would not be lost.

Other sessions included topics relating to indigenous archives, oral archives, archives on the internet, digital archives, setting up rooms for archives, and working with readers and researchers in archives. These sessions were offered by our own members and by professionals from other well established archives in Wellington.

We also went on site visits to the Archives at the Home of Compassion and Society of Mary as well as visiting the National Library of NZ or Te Papa, the national museum.

Feedback from conference participants included the following:
”I had a wonderful time meeting all sorts of people that I didn’t know existed, and what a great data base of contacts I now have!”
“Thank you very much for your generous hospitality and professional hosting of the conference. I confess I do not have anything else to compare it to as it was my first conference, but it really was fantastic. I found it hugely beneficial to me as a fellow Australasian Mercy archivist professionally; I also found it to be a very special and moving experience personally. It was great to meet everyone and make some connections.”
“I know I have taken away some wonderful learning experiences from the week.”

Our time was busy but it was wonderful and we are all looking forward to our next meeting in 2015 in Perth.

Stephanie Kitching rsm
Congregation Archivist
Nga Whaea Atawhai o Aotearoa
Sisters of Mercy New Zealand

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