2004: What is the purpose of the Archive and Study Centre?

2. from: “The Archive and Study Centre and the Business Plan. Where do we want to be in twenty years’ time?” a paper presented to the Trustees of the Planned Environment Therapy Trust, 28 April 2004

When I describe the purpose of the Archive and Study Centre to people outside, and even when describing our approach to fellow archivists, I draw attention to the self, and to the role and nature of memory in being human. People readily understand from their own experience the consequences of Alzheimers and dementia, and can see what happens to refugees and others ripped away from living experience of their past. Those who work therapeutically with children or adults, or who know themselves introspectively, know what happens when memory becomes separated from its roots in ongoing experience, and destructive patterns are repeated, or new experience is inhibited or distorted, or the present becomes overwhelmed in memory, or in its fragmentation or inaccessibility. And people readily understand that the deeper and richer memory is, the more readily accessible and inter-connected it is, and the more fully and appropriately engaged with the processes of the present in containing the past and forecasting and realising the future, the healthier, fuller, and more creative a Self and a Society can become.

What the Archive and Study Centre aims to be, with the Conference Centre, is what a healthy memory is within a creative and healthy human being. We need to continue to create the depth and richness of the holdings; we need to improve and enhance their accessibility, and the connections among them and with experience held elsewhere; and we need to get them integrated, as dynamic partners, with people and organisations for whom the experience they contain will be valuable. That will conduce to healthier individuals and a healthier Society.