The Archivo Histórico Eclesiástico de Bizkaia and The ICARO Center
Preservation and dissemination have always been the fundamental pillars in the archival policy of the Diocese of Bilbao since the AHEB-BEHA was established in 1976. In 2000, a number of digitization projects were put forward and intended as the Archive Digital Service. With the creation of the ICARO Center we wanted to go a step further. This Center attempts at revealing the main features of the archives; that is to say, to collect, to preserve and to disseminate as the key principles in building current knowledge society. The aim of the Center is to increase accessibility to archive holdings deposited in the Ecclesiastical Historical Archive of Biscay as custodian of the Documentary Heritage of the Diocese of Bilbao. The commitment towards the creation of ICARO Centre, Advance Centre for the Knowledge of History supposes a further step in the commitment towards interactive disseminations of Archive’s records. The word ICARO makes reference in Spanish to Research, Knowledge, Archive, Network, and Organization. ICARO pretends to be an advanced centre for knowledge and research in order to disseminate the documentary wealth kept at AHEB-BEHA. The main aim of ICARO Centre is to renew the tasks and functions of the Archive, fostering its dissemination work by means of the creation of an advanced network of knowledge in which integrate other organizations (universities, archives, documentation centres). ICARO Centre, as a centre of excellence, pretends to generate a suitable environment which facilitates the understanding of the function that archives in general and ours in particular carry out in service of society, as a primary source of knowledge for the historical heritage and proof of events and acts.
The Interpretation Centre of Archives offers since 4 of November of 2010 the possibility to know the different fonds of the Archive, their research possibilities but, above all, it shows the different jobs we carry out in the Archive in order to generate, preserve and disseminate the memory in any medium. We want that the knowledge accumulated over the centuries in documents preserved at the Archive becomes useful information and, in particular, we want that information to be accessible, both physically and virtually, for any user. In addition, we also aim to increase awareness about the importance of present documents for the preservation of current memory for the future. Therefore, we have started an educational programme for students from any level of education, from primary school through to higher education, to make them aware of the importance of preserving present documents (most of them in electronic format) as support for the memory of the future. Documents are important not only for individual memory but also for collective memory in order to value the past, how the influence the present time and to secure the future of memory and history. This educational programme is coupled with guided visists adapted to users, and a cultural leisure offer for all ages.
This Centre wants to contribute to the development of the Knowledge Society and the Information Society by means of the introduction of the ICT in all communication, creation and learning processes involved in the development and creation of the Centre. It also pretends to contribute to the dissemination and establishment of the ICT in general and free software in particular inside the general context of Information Society.