Archives on the move
The oldest document in the LiU archive is a songbook from 1848. It contains also a film with famous comedian Tage Danielsson’s last performance. And these are just two items from the thousands of metres of shelves in the archive, now on the move.
Fredrik Johansson, LiU archivist, moves quickly and confidently downstairs to the archive in the basement of the Origo Building.
“Oh yes – I’ve been down here a few times,” he says, unlocking the door to the archive, now nearly empty. “I’m feeling a bit sad about this place disappearing.”
Just about everything in the archives has already been moved to the D Building. There’s only a few papers, boxes and some other items left. One of these is the oldest document in the archives, a songbook from a teacher training course in 1848, forerunner to today’s programmes for education. Fredrik handles the thin pages of the songbook carefully, wearing white cotton gloves.
“Apart from this, the oldest document is from 1963, when regional master’s courses in engineering started, which can be seen as forerunners to LiU.” Some documents from 1967 have been preserved when Linköping started its activities, first as a satellite to other universities, and then as an independent university college in 1970. It became a full, independent university in 1975.
Another treasure is the TV archive, from the time when LiU gave TV-based education in the early years of the 1970s. It was never truly successful, but the educational material has been preserved in various formats, most of which no-one has ever heard of today. The archive itself does, however, possess several types of tape deck.
In March 2017 all employees who currently work in the Origo Building will move into the newly refurbished D Building. Origo will then be dismantled to make way for the new student building “Valla”. This is why the archive has to move. The university is a government agency, and is subject to the principle of public access to official documents. All documents must be archived.
“We must be able to explain why we acted in a certain manner, or why we didn’t act,” Fredrik Johansson explains. “The degree certificates of all students, for example, are kept in the archive. Nearly every day someone who studied at LiU contacts us to ask for a replacement for a degree certificate that has been lost. And we had a real rush of such queries when the certification system for teachers was introduced.”
But it’s not just students who want copies of degree certificates. When Gustav Fridolin, the leader of the Swedish Green Party, was recently involved in a scandal, somebody – probably from the media – rang and wanted to check that he really did have a degree from LiU. The same question was posed about business profile Carl-Henric Svanberg in association with the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
But how do you manage a move like this?
“Well, its simple arithmetic, really, and then you need folk bearing boxes,” replies Fredrik Johansson and makes it sound easy. It took eight working days to move the archive from the Origo Building to the D Building. At the same time, the opportunity was taken to “shrink” the archives, from 2,000 metres of shelves to “only” 1,680 metres.
“We packed things closer together, and did some weeding. For example, the regulations of the Swedish National Archives state that background financial documents only need to be archived for ten years. We could also weed out other items. And we’ve moved some to Kärnhuset.”
Kärnhuset is the other major archive at LiU. Documents are now being moved here that have until now been stored in the Wahlbäck archive. The latter is destined to become the site for housing, and this means that the NSC computer hall at Kärnhuset will be used for archiving (photo above right). As computers are becoming evermore smaller, Kärnhuset has become too big, and will now be used as document archive and book magazine for the library.
“Kärnhuset contains the archives of departments that no longer exist,” says Fredrik Johansson. “You have to remember that departments have come and gone, and been restructured several times through the years. We also have the personnel and student archives here. Archiving this material is not compulsory, but we offer it as an extra service.”
What remains out in the departments are the departmental archives. Each department is responsible for its own archive. For example, the Department of Management and Engineering (IEI) is responsible for its archive after 2007, while the archives of its three predecessors EKI, IKP and IPE are located in Kärnhuset. The archive that has just been moved from the Origo Building to the D Building is the University Services archive.
It’s not without pride that Fredrik Johansson shows visitors around the newly commissioned archive in the D Building and the newly purchased shelves.
“There were some problems with the procurement process, that’s why the move has been somewhat delayed. And not everything is ready: we are expecting new, more attractive signs, for example.”
What’s the most interesting item you’ve come across in the archives?
“Old press cuttings from the 1970s,” says Fredrik Johansson after thinking about it for a while. “The cuttings take up the problem of teachers having to do too much administration, and not having enough time for research. And that the students are not sufficiently well-prepared when they arrive. To be honest, pretty much the same as you can find in the newspapers today.”
Tage Danielsson’s last performance, which is recorded in the two “modern” formats VHS and DVD, is a gem in the LiU archive. But Fredrik pulls out other interesting items, one of which is a card file with salary cards for temporary employees, from a time when the idea of web-based reporting and the Primula system we now use were totally unknown. And he offers a comparison to show how much the university has grown.
“These are the degree certificates from the Institute of Technology in 2015, occupying about 3 metres of shelf space,” he says, indicating the distance with his arms. “And here,” he says, “we have the degree certificates from the complete University College for 1973/1974.” It’s a box, about 5 centimetres long.
From the archive
Kallelse och föredragningslista Konsistoriet vid Linköpings högskola sammanträde onsdagen den 1 juli 1970 kl 14.00 (pdf) (Notification and agenda for the meeting of the University College Board, 1 July 1970, 2.00 pm.)
Tage Danielsson’s last performance
Humanistdagarna in Linköping, 3-5 September 1985. An event organised by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Linköping University, together with the Östergötland County Museum and the “Östgöta Correspondenten” newspaper. Tage Danielsson died on 13 October 1985, just over a month after the performance at Humanistdagarna.
The principle of public access
The principle of public access to official documents is central to the Swedish system of government. It gives the general public, often individuals and representatives of the media, the right of access to information about the activities of the government and municipal authorities.
The principle of public access is expressed in different ways in Sweden’s constitution, such as in the right to freedom of speech, the freedom of public employees to divulge information, and the availability of documents.
Last updated: 2016-11-25