LIBRARY SCIFNrr I ( MrVn
I ASS 1ST
UAR TERL Y
Summer 1997 NUMBER 2
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2010 with funding from
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The IASSIST QUARTERLY represents an international
ccxjperative effort on the part of individuals managing, operating,
or using machine-readable data archives, data libraries, and data
services. The QU.\RTERLY reports on activities related to the
production, acquisition, preservation, processing, distnbution.
and use of machine-readable data carried out by its members and
others in the international social science community. Your
contributions and suggestions for topics of interest are welcomed.
The views set forth by authors of articles contained in this
publication are not necessarily those of lASSIST.
Information for Authors:
The QUARTERLY is published four times per year. Authors are
encouraged to submit papers as word processing files. Hard copy
submissions may be required in some instances. Word processing
files may be sent via email email@example.com.
.Manuscripts should be sent to Editor: Jun Stratford, Government
Information and Maps Department, Shields Library, University of
California, 100 Nonh West Quad, Davis, California 95616-5292.
The first page should contain the article title, author's name,
affiliation, address to which correspondence may be sent, and
telephone number. Footnotes and bibliographic citations should
be consistent in style, preferably following a standard authority
such as the University of Chicago press Manual of Style or Kate
L. Turabian's Manual for Writers. Where appropnate, machine-
readable data files should be cited with bibliographic citations
consistent in style with Dodd, Sue A. "Bibliographic references
for numenc social science data files: suggested guidelines".
Journal oftlie American Society for Information Science
30(2):77-82, March 1979. Announcements of conferences,
training sessions, or the like, are welcomed and should include a
mailing address and a telephone number for the director of the
event or for the organization sponsoring the event.
Karsten Boye Rasmussen.
5230 Odense M,
Phone: h-45 6612 9811,
Libraries and Media
Kent State University,
Phone: (330) 672 - 1024,x31.
Government Information and
University of California,
100 North WestQuad,
Davis, California 95616-5292
Research Data Library
Simon Eraser University
Bumaby. B C
Canada V5A IS6.
Phone: (604) 291-5937.
Title: Newsletter - International Association for Social
Science Information Service and Technology
ISSN -United States: 0739-1137Â© 1985 by lASSIST. All
4 Preservation, Access and the Multinationals
Tniih Hiiskiiwp Pi'tfrsnn
8 A Glimpse at the Future of Social Science
Statistical Data: New Forms of Data Analysis,
New Type of Access, and New Issues for Data
Sti'phpi) F. Fipnhprpr
12 A Digitial Library for an Academic and
Insf I iii'i Hnrhmhn iinii .Insp Dphndn
20 Hyperlinked Eurotrends.
28 Roads to Metadata
34 The Statistical Metadata Repository: an
Electronic Catalog of Survey Descriptions at
the U.S. Census Bureau
Diinifl W Gillnum and Mnrriii V Apprl
52 Categorizing Event Sequences Using Regular
lisn Sniifiltppn iwd.lnhn Van Vniirhis
58 An Early Perspective on the "Electronic
Freedom of Information Act Amendments of
Mnr^arei O Adrinis
Preservation, Access, and the Multinationals
Nation states have been the dominant
pohtical organizations of the twentieth
centui^. Nation states have national
archives. These archives have been
dominant, too: developing archival theory
and practice, supporting archival
organizations, and defining what it means
to be an archives and an archivist.
Let us now frame a few research questions that might be
posed about the concluding years of this century, the
century of the nation state:
â€¢ Did the move to invite additional nations to join
NATO reflect the notions of identity of populations with
each other, with nation state security concerns, or with a
desire to lock ever greater portions of the European land
mass into one military system?
â€¢ Did the recent tumult when Renault announced its
plan to shut down its auto plant in Belgium and move
manufacturing to Spain's cheaper labor market affect
Ford's subsequent decision to continue producing in
Germany, even though German firms themselves were
fleeing to Central and Eastern Europe?
â€¢ Was there a congruence or incongruence between
the crumbling status of the Dayton Peace accord in
Bosnia and the efforts to rebuild the infrastructure of
Bosnia in general and Sarajevo in particular?
To answer the first of these questions, the one on NATO
expansion, a researcher will have to have recourse not only
to the records of the nation states, but also to the records of
international government organizations, NATO in
particular, but also the European Union, the United Nations
Security Council, and the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe.
The second of the questions, that addressing labor
movements, popular protest, and industrial activity, would
require access to the records of the headquarters of the
firms in question, the records of the local subsidiaries (in
both the gaining and the losing country), and pan-European
manufacturmg and labor data from international
The third question, rebuilding Sarajevo in the face of
political disintegration, requires access to the records of
by Trudy Huskamp Peterson'
to this data'.'
international philanthropic organizations
and other non-governmental organizations,
numbering in the dozens of dozens.
Are the questions important? Absolutely.
Are records required to answer them? Of
course. Are they being preserved? It is
difficult to know. What is the likelihood
that our future researcher could gain access
In a word: poor.
Let me briefly examine three related questions. First, what
are the forces that have made the records of the
multinationals significant? Second, what are the factors
that make preservation of records a particularly difficult
problem with multinationals? And third, what are the
current possibilities to gain access to these records?
Each of the three types of multinationals â€” international
government organizations, international business, and
international philanthropic and other nongovernmental
organizations â€” is expenencing galloping globalization.
Each affects the other two. directly or indirectly, but each
The international governmental organizations have had an
astonishing growth in the second half of the twentieth
century. Unexpectedly, nation states willingly shrank their
own powers, agreeing to multinational control structures.
Why? Recently a team of researchers consisting of a
Russian, a German, and a U.S. economist argued that "the
most important national interests of these states [United
Slates, Russia, Japan, and the nations of Europe] converge
much more than they conflict. The real interests that the
parties share greatly outweigh the interests that divide
them."' In other words, ceding power has actually been in
the national interest.
Be that as it may. the outcome has been the creation of
permanent structures, from the European Commission to
the World Bank, with a permanent corps of civil servants,
unaccountable to any single state, who create records on the
most important worldwide issues of our day. While the
fears of the anti-UN activists in the United States, who see
in the United Nations a conspiracy to establish a world
government and extinguish the nation state, are clearly
fantasy, it is true that the permanent bureaucratic structures
of the international governmental organizations create the
same self-preservation mechanisms that surround any
bureaucracy, but importantly absent are the counter-veiling
pressures of a citizenry to whom the officials are
The second type of multinational structure is that of the
businesses and commercial establishments. While these
have been international for some functions for centuries
(think of the Chinese painting porcelain for the European
trade), the late twentieth century difference is in the
assembly of goods through multiple nations producing
components: in the move from international goods or
financial markets into international service providers; and
from the speed with which information and currency flows.
This borderless market, however, still relies on corporate
headquarters somewhere on the globe. Tliese headquarters
may be the traditional home of the company, where the
corporate officers have their offices, or it could be a single
officer in a location that gives the most advantageous tax
position for the company.
Once again, however, these companies can set their work
practices and employment standards without much
accountability to anyone, other than to the owners. In the
United States, the Clinton Administration has attempted to
forge an agreement with a number of the major clothing
manufacturers that will cover their operations world wide.
The agreement is for a code of conduct, that would prohibit
child labor, forced labor, and worker abuse; establishes
health-and-safety standards; recognizes the right to join a
union; limits working hours to 60 a week "except in
extraordinary business circumstances"; and insists that
workers be paid at least the legal minimum wage or the
prevailing industry wage in every country in which
agreements are made.- The problem, of course, is
monitoring such an agreement. It is a major step, but it is
voluntary, it is limited to the manufacturers in one country,
and to one industry in that country. The industry is said to
be setting up a policing mechanism, but efforts to introduce
transparency â€” including the access to records â€” in
international business operations are Sisyphean tasks.
Privatization â€” a world-wide trendâ€” also plays a part in the
issues surrounding the records of international business.
As governments divest themselves of a particular function,
the records of that function vanish from the public sphere
into the private. From banking to manufacture of weapons,
the public track stops at the corporate door. And when the
privatized entity is purchased by a foreign corporation
(such as the lightbulb maker Tungsram of Hungary
purchased by General Electric of the United States), then
the policy of retention and access move from that of a
national government to that of the foreign parent.
The situation with the major philanthropic and other non-
governmental international organizations is different from
either the governmental or business model. These
organizations, ranging from Greenpeace to the Rockefeller
Foundation to lASSIST, are accountable to members or to
boards of directors or, even, to heirs of the original donor.
The records of the activity may be centralized or dispersed
among national chapters; the sources of capital or the
number of members may be publicized or a closely held
secret; the actions of the board may be publicly reported or
may be absolutely secret. What is clear is that these
organizations float above or rest lightly within a single
Preserving the Information Base
All three types of international organizations depend
heavily on electronic information transfers to accomplish
their work. But all three, too, have piles of papers,
photographs, videotapes, architectural drawings, and a
panoply of other records types. Who decides what to
preserve? And, if data can fiow electronically, is there any
need to move physically other record types â€” such as paper
or video tape or cartographic items â€” to an archives'?
The record of the United Nations and its components on
preserving their records is spotty, at best. The central
United Nations archives and records service in New York
has no authority to control the records policies of the
components. Further, with the 1000 person cuts in UN
headquarters recently announced, any administrative
positions are shaky, especially in something as little valued
as the records preservation activity. On the other hand,
some UN units have solid records and archives programs,
such as the Food and Agriculture Organization or the UN
High Commissioner for Refugees. The temporary UN
units â€” such as UNPROFOR â€” are less likely to have a
sufficient records policy to ensure that essential documents
Other international governmental bodies, from NATO to
the European Union to the World Bank and the
International Monetary Fund, are known to have serious
records programs. It is not clear that temporary bodies,
created for a limited purpose, often as a result of crisis, are
adequately documented â€” just as national governments
often have trouble adequately documenting the records of
short-term committees, commissions, and boards. Who, for
example, is the official secretariat for the documents of the
campaign to end female genital mutilation, recently
announced as a joint campaign of the World Heath
Organization, the UN's Children's' Fund, and the UN
Turning to international business, it is difficult to gain any
general picture of the state of preservation of records, given
the secrecy that surrounds commercial enterprises. When
Royal Dutch Shell, for example, was under attack for
continuing to do business in Nigeria, were the records of
the Nigerian unit physically transported to the Netherlands?
Was the information reported from Nigena to the
headquarters deemed to be sufficient for corporate purposes
and the disposition of the records in Nigeria left to chance?
Or was it most expedient â€” if not downnght prudent â€” to
destroy the records in Nigeria as soon as possible?
One specific problem for an in-gathering of corporate
recoids in Europe is the policy of the European Union to
ensure that if a country wants to keep the records created in
its territory, it can. In the case of the Renault controversy,
for example, that would mean that Belgium could prohibit
the Renault subsidiary from sending its records to the
French headquarters, as could Spain. Whether or not this
has actually happened, it is possible. In at least one
example, France prevented the records of a monastic order
from being sent to the headquarters of the order in Rome.
Whether any government would think that corporate
records are essential for documenting the history of the
nation is not clear, but other countries than the European
Union â€” notably Russia â€” give themselves the legal right to
prevent the export of records of a business registered with
the government. The best one can say is that at least in
such a case the documents would be preserved, although
The problems with the international NGOs are quite similar
to those of the multinational businesses, with the exception
that there is less likelihood that they would be destroyed to
prevent the release of corporate secrets.
The truth is that, for many records of international non-
governmental bodies, whether commercial or philanthropic
or pressure groups, there is no logical archival home. If
one expects the corporate headquarters to hold records of
business world-wide, there would be mass archival storage
on the Cayman Islands or in Liechtenstein. In countries
where the national archives has a mandate to hold the
records of industry or of any organization or establishment
within the country, the national archives might be a
possible place of deposit. In some countries, however, such
as the United States, unless the records of the non-
governmental body show the functioning of the
government, the national archives does not have the
authority to hold them.
Even if the problem of location could be solved, the
problem of international transport is daunting. Electronic
files can be transported with relative ease (and if they
cannot, the matter of carrying diskettes is simple), but
operating in many languages, with electronic data recorded
in a wide range of fonts, currently represents a major
technical problem. Paper and videotapes are another matter
entirely. Shell advertises that it operates in 120 countries.
McDonald's operates in so many that purchasing power
parity can be based on the cost of a Big Mac â€” with
reasonably sound economic predictability. It is simply not
realistic to believe that these corporations will move any
significant quantity of records around the world â€” it would
not be economic, and for these businesses that has to be the
bottom line. Turning to the non-commercial sector, there
the funds are usually heavily committed to pursuing the
mission of the organization and precious little is willingly
spent on administration, for that is just the means to the
goal. Unless the information itself has value in pursuing
the objective of the non-commercial organization (such as
documentation of human rights abuses), it is unlikely to
command the resources required for preservation.
Accessing the Record
If the record of a multinational activity is preserved, what is
the likelihood that the researcher can gain access to it, in
any reasonable time? Again, the answer is discouraging.
The international governmental organizations may have a
policy or a procedure, but it is often both arduous and not
timely. (One outstanding exception is the Historical
Archives of the European Union in Florence, Italy.) The
records of the cases at the World Court are closed for 100
years. The International Monetary Fund recently balked at
a request for access for official business by an employee of
its sister institution the World Bank. Ironically, the closed
policy and restrictive conditions of some of the
international organizations spill over into the national
practice; a recent attempt to adopt a Freedom of
Information Act in Latvia, for instance, failed (according to
a knowledgeable observer) because Latvia hopes to join
NATO and the opponents of the act argued that an open
access law would run counter to NATO practices!
Turning to international corporations, the record is opaque.
Corporations like Coca Cola have an archives and an
access policy; so does the Walt Disney Corporation, some
multinational banks, and others. But the records policies of
most are unknown.
NGOs also probably present a mixed access picture. Here
there is almost no data about the actual access conditions.
Let me, instead, give you an example of the archival
challenges of the Open Society Archives as an archives of a
major international NGO.
The Open Society Archives is the archives for the world-
wide network of Soros Foundations. From their
headquarters in New York, foundations operate in nearly
forty countries world-wide â€” from Mongolia to South
Africa to Estonia to Guatemala. In addition, there are
major philanthropic activities in the United States. The
Archives itself is located in Budapest, Hungary, which
serves as the de facto European headquarters for the Open
Society Institute (as the Soros foundation is officially
known). In addition to the records of the foundations
themselves, the Archives holds by contract the records of
the Research Institute of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,
in which we find almost every language of Europe and
Central Asia; the records of the Index on Censorship, with
world-wide languages; and so on.
Obviously, for us fonts and languages are major issues.
But so, too, is what to preserve in what format. Because
the foundation network is completely networked and
dependent upon electronic communications, we are looking
hard at the electronic data in the foundations, to see what
can be transferred to the Archives electronically and
thereby provide a basic portrait of the Foundation's
activities. We also are capturing the electronic traffic
broadcast within the foundation network in an innovative
electronic storage program; this should give basic outlines,
too. We cannot reasonably ship paper or audio-visual
records from all points of the globe, yet some records in
non-electronic formats are indispensable for providing a
picture of what the foundations are achieving. For example,
the Romanian Foundation has for a number of years
provided grants to companies to take public opinion polls,
thereby providing an unbiased source for evaluating
attitudes toward issues. The polls are taken by different
organizations, and the result is published in a continuing
series of hard copy publications. The data is invaluable for
research, but to preserve it we have to preserve the hard
copy report. Similarly, the videotape of the Roma
microlending project by the Hungarian foundation exists
only in video format. Books published by foundation
grants, documentary films supported by them, and all
manner of sound recordings are also part of the legacy.
For us, the mission of the Open Society Archives is to
document the foundations and also to preserve information
on the period of communism and post-communism in
Europe and to document the movements for human rights
world-wide. But with the exception of a few other
foundations, we are probably a unique philanthropic
organization that is willing to consider the historical
importance of its records.
What is to be Done?
The issue of preservation and access in archives of
intergovernmental organizations has been repeatedly
discussed during the last decade. In 1990 at the
International Congress of Historical Sciences in Madnd,
Charles Kecskemeti, the Secretary General of the
International Council on Archives, argued for an archival
policy in major intergovernmental systems. TTiis was
followed by a paper to the 1995 International Conference
of the Round Table on Archives by Liisa Fagerlund, in
which she called for "harmonized standards and
procedures" and for exploring the possibility of depositing
the archives in co-operating archival repositories (such as
national archives) "in sites with major concentrations of
United Nations system organizations."'
In many democratic states, a rock of the social order is the
principle that citizens have the nght to know what the
government is doing and has done â€” the basis of Freedom
of Information legislation. The international monitor
group. Freedom House, now estimates that 60% of the
governments in the world have a democratic form._ If this
is true, then it follows that organizations made up of
democratic states should, themselves, have democratic
management â€” in the instant case, a pnnciple of preserving
important archives and providing access to them in an open
and consistent way. Pressure by member states is critical to
ensuring that a discussion of preservation and access goes
forward. The goal is democratization of the data.
Unlike the obvious pressure path of citizen to national
government to international organization, when we turn to
international business we have no such levers. We can
assume that business will do whatever it believes good
business practice to be, without regard for future research
and for history unless it suits the corporate purpose. But
we really know very little about the actual situation in the
Fortune 500 companies, not to mention such emerging
giants as Gazprom or LUKoil. Here I believe the next steps
are (1) to survey the actual preservation and access
practices in the Fortune 500 companies, giving special
attention to the status of the records of offshore
subsidiaries; (2) to launch a concerted effort to encourage
the companies to use international standards to describe the
historic records they do hold and, to the extent possible
under corporate guidance, to share that information
electronically. Only with some survey results in hand will
the research community be able to assess the preservation
and access needs.
The records of international philanthropy are somewhere in
between the two. If human rights activism uses the politics