Documentation

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    This document has been made available in electronic format
         by the International Co-operative Alliance ICA 
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                         January 1996


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                       Documentation
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The dissemination of documentation and information has always
been recognized as an ICA priority. The 100th anniversary of the
ICA  is an occasion to remind our readers that ICA's collection
of books dates back to 1902, when the first ICA  publication
issued was a monumental bibliography of co-operative literature.
The continuous development of the Documentation Section led to
the creation of one of the largest collections of documents,
articles and books on the worldwide co-operative movement which
exists.

Research
Research is the most important activity of the Documentation
Section. The number of enquiries from the membership, academics,
universities, other international organisations, press agencies
and others is  increasing continuously.  Information requests
have been met on such diverse subjects as the privatisation of
regional dairy unions in France, development of health
co-operatives, capital formation, taxation, participation of
co-operatives in national economies and the development of the
co-operative movement in various countries. Some enquiries were
straightforward with simple answers, whilst others entailed
considerable research for a considered reply.

In 1995 priority was given to historical research executed at the
request of member organisations and for internal purposes.
Several ICA members were celebrating anniversary years and were
using the ICA Documentation Centre as a resource to supplement
their own services. A good example of collaboration with members
is the UK Co-operative Wholesale Society~s 1995 calendar,
picturing art works from different countries combined with a
short description of respective co-operative movements supplied
entirely by the Section. ICA Specialised Bodies, this year,
requested information on the development of their specific
sectors or regarding their institutional history. 

The Documentation Centre was a convenient focal point for
co-operative researchers from diverse backgrounds to visit and
exchange information on professional issues. Therefore, besides
providing inter-library loans, the Centre has assisted academics
who visited the library to undertake research for  in-depth
studies on co-operative subjects.

The Documentation Officer assisted extensively with the research
and editing of the "Thematic Guide to ICA Congresses", which is
one of the special Congress documents. She also assisted with the
collection of photos and data for Rita Rhodes~ publication "The
International Co-operative Alliance During War and Peace - 1910 -
1950".

Statistics 
The report concerning membership statistics is based primarily on
the research of the Documentation Officer and to some extent that
of Regional Offices. For the third consecutive year the Technical
Officer at ROAP is publishing an excellent directory of member
organisations up-dating information from ICA's largest Region,
and ROECSA and ROWA have also made good progress towards
collecting data. Compared with the volumes of statistics
published by other organisations, those collected by the ICA are
very limited. Their incompleteness, even on this modest scale, is
regretted. In the future the statistical services will be
decentralised and more closely related to the membership
department activities.  

Regional Offices 
The relationship between the Regional Offices and the
Documentation Section have developed in a mutually satisfactory
way in collecting and exchanging information and providing mutual
assistance. Considerable attention had been given to examination
of the existing relationship between the main ICA Documentation
Centre and the regional services,  with the long-term goal of
establishing better inter-institutional co-operation for
information management and staff training at the regional level.
In implementing the decisions of the Tokyo Congress on the
decentralisation of services  the section has increased  its
contribution towards the strengthening of regional documentation
sections. Next year priority will be given to synchronising
procedures thqt will contribute towards harmonizing future
information management policies and inter-library co-operation.

Collaboration with other Departments
Support from the documentation section is essential so that all
ICA departments keep abreast of the voluminous and polyvalent
information incoming on membership and other co-operative issues
and are able to carry out their activities in an effective and
efficient manner. The Section contributed to the Centennial and
Congress Task Forces, each of which specialized in a particular
area of the centennial celebrations. 

The collaboration of the Section was particularly important to
the Communications Department. Besides researching articles for
publication, the Documentation Officer wrote articles and book
reviews for the Review of International Co-operation and assisted
with the research an editing of several historical publications
especially issued to mark the centennial year.