Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chief Librarian Reports on Visit to China

From Kenneth Schlesinger's article at: http://www.lehman.edu/lehman/enews/2008_11_17/feat_schlesinger.html

In October, Lehman Chief Librarian Kenneth Schlesinger traveled to China for ten days as part of a Visiting Delegation of Archivists. The group was sponsored by People to People Citizen Ambassador Programs, which organizes international cultural exchanges in a variety of subject disciplines. Here, Mr. Schlesinger talks about his experiences.

The Delegation divided its time between Beijing and Shanghai on a rigorous (to put it mildly) schedule of professional visits and cultural activities. First stop was a meeting with our professional counterparts at Chinese Archives Society, which has over 7400 members. It was significant to initiate discussion about how our international professional organizations could cooperate more closely. As part of our formal gift giving (important in Asian cultures), we presented them with an institutional membership to the Society of American Archivists.

Paper preservation lab, Beijing City Archives (photo by Dianne Brown)

The Beijing City Archives occupies fifteen floors of a building equipped for both onsite storage and public access. Since Beijing serves as an administrative province with over thirty-three million people in the metropolitan area, the archives functions more on a municipal level. We toured paper and audiovisual preservation labs, as well as a digital scanning area with a staff of sixteen. The Chinese are committed to aggressively digitizing their collections and have a recent mandate to make them publicly accessible in attractive reading rooms.

One of the high points of our excursion was meeting with faculty and students at the School of Information Resource Management of Renmin University (considered the Harvard of China). An estimated 150 students and faculty were there to welcome us, and we had an intriguing facilitated conversation about library training in the U.S. vs. China, current trends in research, and the challenges of digital preservation. We were particularly impressed by the students, who asked thoughtful, sophisticated questions in English, clearly informed by library and archival literature.

School of Information Resource Management, Renmin University (photo by Elizabeth Adkins)

All too quickly we were off to lively, cosmopolitan Shanghai, considered the New York of China. We had fewer professional visits, but spent an interesting morning at the Shanghai Municipal Archives, located on the historic Bund in a beautiful Art Deco building. Our knowledgeable hosts queried us about cataloging archival materials, making finding aids accessible on the World Wide Web, as well as operational procedures of our National Archives. We toured an excellent multimedia exhibition on the colorful history of Shanghai. The afternoon was spent at the Shanghai Museum, one of the finest in the world, chronicling the aesthetic history of Imperial China through its artifacts: bronze, scrolls, ceramics, porcelain, and ethnic costumes.

Most professional visits lasted two hours, and the conversation merely scratched the surface. Some delegates were frustrated by the limited time and inability to go into more depth. From my own experience, however, the fact of our meeting was more significant than the actual content. This was, hopefully, a prelude to more dialogue and exchange in the future.

Professional visit, Shanghai Municipal Archives (photo by Dianne Brown)

We made some startling discoveries. For example, it was compelling what a central government could do by marshalling its resources—both financial and human—toward archival processing and digitization. We were impressed by this major thrust towards digitization, but realized that long-term issues of digital preservation and data migration were not necessarily being addressed. The strategy appears to be: Digitize Now—Preserve Later. Rather than using archival storage boxes, we observed that documents are mounted in individual folders. Due to language differences, at times we had difficulty establishing a common vocabulary and grasping concepts: informationization. After a few sessions, we began to understand that in China they do not differentiate between archives, records management, and information issues.

The cultural component was equally important. In this brief span we visited massive Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, attended the Peking Opera, and marveled at the Shanghai Acrobats. Climbing the Great Wall was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life.
Needless to say, we learned as much from our wonderful hosts as they hopefully learned from us. Further, I benefited from the knowledge and expertise of my fellow delegates and established new collegial friendships.

posted for Kenneth Schlesinger by Kathy Marquis

Global Archives Management Delegation Visit with Shanghai Municipal Archives (Bund Branch)

October 17, 2008
Shanghai, China

Representing the Shanghai Municipal Archives:
Mr. Cang Dafang, Deputy Director General, Shanghai Municipal Archives
Mr. Chen Chaoxin, Director of Administration Office
Mrs. Wang Chunmei, Deputy Director of Planning Department
Mr. Zhu Jianzhong, Deputy Director of Methodical Leading Department
Mr. Zhen Zequing, Director of Acquisitions Department
Mr. Zhang Xin, Director of Arrangement and Cataloguing Department
Mrs. Zhang Mingli, Section Chief of Access Department
Mr. Zhang Jianming, Deputy Director of Security and Preservation Department
Mr. Wu Guanghua, Director of Information Technology Department
Mrs. Cao Shengmei, Arrangement and Cataloguing Department
Mrs. Cheng Wangyuan, Administration Office

The Shanghai Municipal Archives was founded in December 1959. There are 14 departments and centers. Their have two missions: the first is to provide storage for archival records, and the second is to act as a center to promote patriotism.

They are a reference center promoting open access to government information. Their holdings total 2.18 million folders, or up to 58 kilometers/58,000 square meters. For better service to the public, they have the use of the entire building, courtesy of the city of Shanghai, although the actual collections are stored elsewhere. Their major functions include exhibitions and academic programs. The municipal government has given them a great deal of support, which has led to much notice from the public. Their mission has always included better promotion so that they can be better used by the public. In the year 2004, they had 240,000 researchers.

The delegates were shown a brief DVD about the archives, showing users, the old building, holdings recording the foreign settlements and local government records from dynastic and KMT periods, as well as the Japanese occupation in the 1930s, and the PRC period. These include records of industrial, commercial and social organizations and audiovisual materials, such as old wire recordings. The DVD described security, conservation, digitization, storage, publications, and the computerized catalog. All delegates will receive copies of the DVD.

They are expanding the functions of the archives, including some “cultural products” which were presented to Elizabeth Adkins. These included a beautiful scroll picture of the Bund area of Shanghai, a DVD about art deco in Shanghai, and some note cards. Elizabeth Adkins also presented the delegation's gifts to Mr. Cang, (who had to leave for another meeting), including an SAA membership and a certificate of appreciation.

Elizabeth Adkins began the question and answer session by noting that the archives the delegation has visited in China are very large and well-supported by the government. Many of the delegates work for small archives, not supported by the government. She asked for a show of hands of those who work in shops with five or fewer archivists. Five delegates raised their hands.

Pat Scott mentioned that she is not only a lone arranger, but she only has a half-time position and also does library bibliographic instruction. It can be overwhelming, but on the other hand, you can perform all the functions of an archives, not just one. College and university archivists often depend on student help. David McCartney noted that most university archives are part of a larger library system, and also part of a special collections department, including rare books, manuscripts and university records. His special collections department has eleven staff, but he is the only full time university archives staff, in addition to student employees.

In the following exchange, "GAMD" stands for Global Archives Management Delegation, and "SMA" stands for Shanghai Municipal Archives.

GAMD: Are college and university records included in municipal archives or are they separate?

SMA: All over Shanghai there are more than 50 archival repositories. SMA is a government archives, so they do not take college and university archival records – they have their own archives. There are 10 university archives in town. A typical university archives has a full-time staff of 10 to 20. They have comprehensive responsibilities including exhibitions, etc., in addition to records retention and storage and use of records. They might also be the local/university museum, and hold digital records. Some other archives have only 1-2 staff. There are both full-time and part-time staff.

GAMD: Does the SMA acquire their records by records schedules, mandating transfer method, timing, etc.?

SMA: They collect records from government agencies. According to Chinese law, once a file is created, after 10-20 years it must be transferred to the archives.

GAMD: Everything?

SMA: Yes. Before the records are transferred to the archives, they will be appraised and selected. They keep about 30% of the records. How does it work in the U.S. national archives? When is the transfer period – how long after creation?

GAMD: It depends on the type of record and the office of creation. Records are held temporarily at records centers, and some of these records are then destroyed. The records centers are distinct from the archives – more like “fancy warehouses.”

Jac Treanor commented that in the U.S., we see archives and records management as two separate functions, rather than one. He advocates that they are inseparable. He feels more comfortable with the Chinese point of view. U.S. appraisal is based on government legislation and local laws. For example, Federal government requirements affect personnel records, while tax laws and state laws govern business records, and local laws govern lower-level organization records such as religious organization records.

Eric Hartmann commented that Chinese archives seem to have more labor power available to work on archives. This may be one reason why we have to be more selective about what we take – there are fewer people to process/manage the records.

The delegates asked whether SMA plans to digitize everything and put it all on the web. Will Chinese people be able to access it all on the web? Will there be plans to translate it all into English?

SMA: In SMA we have been digitizing for 6-7 years. Maybe this digitizing means something different to us because our storage is far away from our reading rooms. So, most of our reference is provided here by via the Internet. Starting in 2004 we have general public reference here in this building. The requests have really grown, especially for Internet access to documents – so they have been digitizing more and more. Paper records, after appraisal and consideration for open access, are digitized and mounted on the Internet. We have digitized 50% of our records. Last year only 1% of requested records were digitized. This year 28% of requested records were already digitized. However, English translation is not top in our priorities.

GAMD: The DVD mentioned that business and organizational records were included in your archives. Can you tell us more about them?

SMA: Most are government records, but they are always ready to take records of important events or celebrations taking place in Shanghai. They send information to events staff to help them catalog and manage their records before right from the beginning of the process. They also send staff to do the transfer of the records.

They have read that the delegates are interested in preservation of digital records. They are interested in this, too. This relates to the technological conditions.

GAMD: NARA has a center for electronic records. Originally, they copied all information for use and stored the original. Now there is the ERA (Electronic Records Archives) project.

As mentioned earlier, digital preservation is an international crisis. If we don’t find a way of capturing electronic records, and making them usable in the future, we will have no records for the future. Unfortunately our IT experts think only of data and information, not records. The lawyers and auditors, because of lawsuits and electronic discovery laws governing evidence, have become our allies. They are helping us to forward our agenda of digital records preservation. We look to the ERA project with great hope, but we must go forward on our own, too. Many universities are setting up their own institutional archives to preserve digital records – but this, too, is complicated by laws governing, for example, student records and their confidentiality.

Records must be managed from creation to disposition – electronic records management is our most difficult task. We are just beginning! Several universities, including UCLA, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Michigan have done great work. Australia and Canada have produced very useful tools for digital preservation. There is now an “archives toolkit” that we use. Hardware and software obsolescence is a great problem. We need database structure standards and migration strategies to assist in this preservation. There are electronic records tools that allow us to capture records at the point of creation. We need further tools to help us catalog by category, office, function, also at the point of creation. It is not a time to sit and wait!

We need all stakeholders “at the table” and more investment in research on this topic. We need to develop specific tools and implement them. Part of the problem is that we are at the mercy of commercial vendors who create products which become obsolete – they have no interest in future usability of the hardware or software.

We have been long frustrated by working with IT staff – they don’t understand the concept of preserving records long term – for them it is only the current problem that matters. [*much* agreement by Chinese archivists] At Ford Motor Company, Elizabeth Adkins has been very involved with setting information security standards. Information security is a big problem for IT, too, so it has become an important way to communicate with them and jointly solve problems. It gives them a common viewpoint. This common work has helped create more of a partnership with IT.

Elizabeth Adkins asked if there were any more questions from the delegates. Stacy Gould, who works at Hong Kong University, asked about archival legislation, which does not exist at Hong Kong. In Shanghai, are university records governed by specific legislation?

SMA: There is a local archives code in Shanghai to which local university archives are subject, regarding retention of files. All universities in China must also abide by regulations issued by the Ministry of Education. Specific regulations in the Number 6 Act of the Archives Law must be followed. In China most universities are still public so they must follow laws regulating governmental entities.

The delegation then proceeded to an outstanding exhibit about the history of Shanghai on a lower floor.

Global Archives Management Delegation Visit with Renmin University School of Information Resource Management (SIRM)

Beijing, China
October 15, 2008

Representing Renmin University:
Professor Zhang Bin, Vice President of SIRM
Professor Wang Jian, SIRM professor
Professor Feng Huiling, Vice President of the University
Assistant Professor An Xiaomi, SIRM assistant professor
Numerous other SIRM faculty members

We met in a large meeting room with name tags for all of the delegates and the SIRM faculty. Many SIRM students attended the meeting.

Prof. Zhang Bin introduced some of the faculty of the University. He then talked about his interest in discussing differences between China and U.S. archives practices, as well as management of digital records, education, and standardization.

Prof. Wang Jian provided an overview of the school, which was established in 1952. The Archives department was established in 1978, and the Library Science masters degree was initiated in 2000.

They have three departments:
• Archives
• Administrative Information Management Department
• Library Information

They provide bachelors, masters and post-doctoral degrees. They keep track of what is going on globally. The textbooks developed in this school are disseminated across China

There are eight different doctorate curriculums, including History of Chinese Archival Science and E-government. They have a large computer lab for practice, and provide opportunities for students to go elsewhere, for example Shanghai.

SIRM has 400 students, including undergraduates, post graduates, doctorates, and foreign students (mostly from Korea and other Asian countries). They have 32 full-time faculty.

Information on the school can be found on their website: http://www2.irm.cn/english. They host many conferences, including an international a PhD Forum. They are core members of the International Council on Archives' Section on Archival Education. They have a cooperative agreement with two other universities, the University of Michigan and a university in Korea (Pusan?).

In 2006 they arranged for some of their students to participate in an internship in Chicago.

In 2007 some of their students visited Pusan National University in South Korea.

Elizabeth Adkins provided a brief overview of the Society of American Archivists, then asked each delegate to introduce themselves.

Prof. Wang then hosted a Q&A session. In the following exchange, "GAMD" stands for Global Archives Management Delegation, and "SIRM" stands for School of Information Resource Management.

GAMD: What levels of jobs can a student get with a bachelors degree, since the U.S. does not really have bachelors degree programs for archivists?

SIRM: Majority of archives in China also includes records management and computer technology. There is plenty of work in the area of knowledge management in government agencies and corporations. It's easy to find a job, although not necessarily a good job.

SIRM: October is Archives Month in the U.S. How can we (China) get more information about it?

GAMD: American Archives Month was started by SAA two years ago, building on local efforts that had been occurring for many years. Archivists in the U.S. are not generally good at promoting themselves, so SAA tries to provide information that will help archivists in promoting their own archives. We’re beginning to realize that we need to be able to explain to our employers and society in general the need and importance of archives. Two years ago SAA began to issue public relations kits that are sent to all SAA members to help them promote American Archives Month. In the gifts we have brought, we have included the 2008 press kit. Information is also available on SAA’s website: www.archivists.org

GAMD: In the U.S., most students become attracted to archival work because of an interest in history. Is that also true in China? The knowledge and skills of dealing with electronic records is increasingly important.

SIRM: Two students responded by talking about their interest in archives. One is a major in History. The other is interested in preservation and conservation issues, so she acknowledges that she needs to understand history.

GAMD: So students are interested in working with traditional records, as well as electronic records?

SIRM: Faculty member: Master’s and PhD students choose their careers because of their personal interests. We’ve changed our name from Archives to School of Information Resource Management, so we can explore issues of records as an information resource. We wanted to offer a comprehensive curriculum to students. There are currently eight Master’s degree students and ten PhD candidates. Records management is strong point of curriculum. Archival students also need to learn knowledge management. We have a number of research projects under the guidance of faculty. Undergraduate degrees range from Archival Science Specialty, to Information Management, to Information Systems Specialty.

GAMD: In the U.S., most organizations use computers to manage information and records. They’re beginning to consider input from professional records managers because of legal compliance issues. Preservation issues in the future will become a major problem.

In our China visit, we’ve heard a lot of interest in digitization of electronic records, but less about actual digital preservation. Please comment on China’s need to address digital preservation issues.

SIRM: Faculty: There is a tendency for e-government to produce a lot of electronic records. In China, there is a need for informationization of government documents. There is currently an important project under way to create a Strategy on Maintenance of Electronic Records. Some regions in China have started to establish their own electronic records centers. Digitization is a way to share our culture. Research has begun on long-term preservation.

Automation is widely used. We have concerns about long-term preservation, and risk management for government electronic records. We have two national projects regarding the accountability of the government for memory and for evidence.

GAMD: You referred to “informationization,” which is a term we've heard during our visit, but it is not clear to us what it means. Can you please explain it?

SIRM: Informationization refers to a national strategy to improve efficiency in governmental processes through computerization.

GAMD: We’re in a global crisis to find ways to preserve digital information. No one knows how long these records will last: five years? Ten years? There is a need to refresh digital information every decade or so. In the future, there will be major challenges in terms of storing and accessing digital information. We need to work together to develop solutions for addressing these issues.

SIRM: Faculty: We agree that we are in a crisis to preserve digital records. Some of you work in universities. Do you think that universities should digitize all archives?

GAMD: No, there is not enough in the budgets to do that, and even if there were, there does not seem to be a need to digitize everything.

SIRM: Faculty: In your universities, are your archives open to the general public?

GAMD: Most are, although it depends on the institution.

SIRM: Faculty: What are the basic procedures for serving students?

GAMD: Most university archives are connected with the university library, so they follow the same procedures as those in the library. Many universities are requiring students to use primary resources in their studies, which encourages the use of archives.

SIRM: Faculty: Do you receive digital records? How you then manage them? How will you provide them to users?

GAMD: Yes, but practices vary widely depending on the institution. Concerns cross all areas of the universities including faculty, staff, IT, registrars, etc.

SIRM: Faculty: Here in China, we do not distinguish between libraries and archives.

GAMD: Librarians do not always understand archivists very well.

SIRM: Faculty: What are the standards to set up libraries and archives? What are the cataloging standards?

GAMD: Standards include DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard), and a new standard currently being developed for individual manuscripts [DCRM(MSS)]. A standard for graphics materials – DCRM(G) – is currently being created by RBMS (Rare Books and Manuscripts Section), a part of ALA (American Library Association), that very loosely follows another archival standard, which is AACR2 (Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules). Archivists use EAD (Encoded Archives Description) and MARC (Machine-Readable Cataloguing Record) to input/record the information based on the above standards.

SIRM: Student: Do archivists classify by function in the U.S.?

GAMD: William & Mary classified by function but it's more import to first classify by origin. Functional classification is used in records management; series classification is used in Archives, although it's usually based on the records management classification. As enterprise content management systems get deployed more widely, the use of functional classification is being considered more often.

SIRM: Student: Who will undertake the responsibilities for digitizing according to regulations in the U.S.? Will any commercial records centers take on this responsibility? What is the relationship between SAA and the commercial records centers?

GAMD: Cannot think of any regulations that require digitization of already existing records (i.e., paper, audiovisual materials, etc.), but rather regulations to preserve those records that were created digitally (i.e., email, registrations, etc.) for use in legal issues.

The relationship between SAA and commercial records centers is relatively simple, in that SAA asks Iron Mountain (the major commercial records center vendor) to financially sponsor SAA activities. In the records management community, ARMA and Iron Mountain have a closer relationship; they participate in strategic plans together to solve issues.

Iron Mountain is the major commercial records center vendor. They have gotten very big by buying out competitors. They can set their own terms because they are usually the only game in town which has its challenges for the archives and records management community.

SIRM: How do you handle privacy issues and access in university archives?

GAMD: Records that are going to be closed forever are not usually kept in archives. Usually there are time limits to any restrictions on access (for example, the life time of the individual plus 50 years, which helps get past the privacy issues). Many of the records given to universities are given by private individuals, and they may ask for their personal records to have periods of inaccessibility as is their right.

The visit concluded with a presentation by the students to the delegates of a poster listing all the delegates, as well as pins from the university and the school. The delegation then presented a number of gifts, along with a certificate of appreciation.

Global Archives Management Delegation Visit with the Beijing Municipal Archives

October 14, 2008

Representing the Beijing Municipal Archives:
Ms. Chen Leren: Archives Director
Mr. Luo Yunhe: Deputy Archives Director
Ms. Li: Duplication, technology
Ms. Song: Internet management
Ms. Wang: cataloging and management
Ms. Wang: reference and reception

Our hosts provided a brief overview of the Beijing Municipal Archives, which was founded in 1958. They are responsible for collecting records of Party institutions and related government institutions. There are 1.77 million volumes in the collection. (Each volume is a small aggregate of related records, similar to a file folder.) Their holdings include not just paper, but audiovisual collections. Every year they receive records from 200 separate entities at the city level, including corporate entities. They have been collecting information on important events and celebrations in Beijing. Examples include the 2003 SARS outbreak, as well as the 2008 Olympics and Para-Olympics and their preparations. They have gone to the United Kingdom and the United States to collect records about Beijing, to contribute toward the bigger picture of the city of Beijing.

They are working to improve environmental conditions for storage, using the latest technologies. The original archives was located in the center of the city. Eventually a new building was necessary. The current building dates to 1995. It covers 20,000 square meters. It has 15 floors; 13 are for storage, and the rest are for offices, IT, and reference. The Reference Hall is where people gain access to the records. Now they are working on additional exhibition rooms. The exhibitions will highlight the most valuable records, to tell the people of Beijing about the history of the city. There is also a dining hall.

With this new building, conditions for preservation have greatly improved. They have temperature and humidity controls. They are using technology, including digitization for publicly accessible records, microfilm for others. They aim to better preserve the original, making access easier for researchers. They are digitizing audiovisual materials, not just paper records.

They orient their services to the needs of the public. They provide access to agencies and organizations at the city level – and to the general public. They also have scholars who visit to use the records. Their website helps to manage the information, and helps users access their services. They also have the Beijing Archives Bureau. The Beijing Municipal Archives also shoulders the administration of the archives.

There is a Society of Beijing Archives, and those with more academic interest in archives are members. The president of the Society of Beijing Archives is also a member of the Chinese Archives Society.

After the overview, the hosts and delegates spent some time exchanging information. In the following exchange, "GAMD" stands for Global Archives Management Delegation, and "BMA" stands for Beijing Municipal Archives.

GAMD: Is there legislation authorizing your collection of Beijing records?

BMA: There is such legislative authority: the Archives Act of the People's Republic of China (1987). They are responsible for and entitled to collect records from the local area. Their archives date back to 1533, and continue up to the present day. There is also the Archives Code, which helps them collect from the local Party offices and city agencies. There is a list of records that they are to collect. After 20 years records are required to be moved to the Beijing Municipal Archives.

GAMD: Do you have personal or family records?

BMA: They emphasize government records so this includes information on individuals, such as marriages or salaries. They have attempted to collect a few personal papers, but it is a “side thing.”

Their goal is to digitize their entire holdings. They have already digitized 40% of their huge holdings. They would like to learn more about digitization in the United States, especially at the National Archives (NARA).

GAMD: Diane Dimkoff explained that at NARA “everyone wants everything digitized now,” but this is impossible. So they have formed partnerships with private companies, starting with the easiest: digitizing microfilm. They are approached by private companies, signing legal documents outlining what NARA and the companies agree to be responsible for. This started with genealogy research interests. NARA prioritizes the most needed records, which are mounted on the NARA website for public access. Partnership agreements outline standards for digitizing, as well as control of the metadata. Many lawyers are involved. NARA provides space in-house for this digitizing work. The work of these private companies with original materials is monitored by NARA's reference room staff.

BMA: They first digitized the catalog, then whole collections. By 2007, they had 2.12 million hits on the website – more than 40% were from the U.S. Most of these were from California.

GAMD: California has a very large Asian-American population. No one in the U.S. has goal of digitizing “absolutely everything.” We create priorities.

Max Evans talked about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), which has a strong genealogical interest. They began microfilming records of genealogical interest in 1937. Today they digitize. They are one of the NARA partners, of whom Diane Dimkoff spoke. They are also digitizing the several million rolls of microfilm in Salt Lake City. He can find someone from the LDS program, a Chinese speaker, who can help them do their digitizing. He is the LDS archivist for the records of the Church itself. They are now investigating “digitizing on demand.”

Lee Stout commented that the American archival system is very decentralized; many budgets are too small to digitize all records. So, we must be strategic about what can and should be done, deciding which collections most warrant digitization. This raises the issue of the preservation of digitized files: This is a big problem for the future, both for born-digital and digitized files. He asked how they are working to capture born-digital records.

MBA: Starting recently, with the Olympics, they are receiving born-digital records. They copy them and preserve the copies.

Two of you mentioned genealogy. What specific families are you documenting? Do you take records of anyone?

GAMD: Eric Hartmann: He is an archivist of the Catholic Church in Texas. They have microfilm and original sacramental records – similar to vital records. Descendants come to the archives to find out about their families. They are not famous people, just ordinary people.

Pat Scott: She is an amateur genealogist herself. Even her college – Pennsylvania College of Technology – gets such requests. She noted that the U.S. is a country of immigrants and many have little information about their ancestors, and seek this information.

Kit Leary: She gets genealogy requests from descendants of Oregon Shakespeare Festival participants.

Helen Wong Smith: Genealogical research in her repository in Hawaii parallels research by Native American research – to prove blood descent to entitle people to funds, land, group membership.

BMA: What is the size and scope of the National Archives?

GAMD: Diane Dimkoff explained that NARA maintains the permanently valuable records of the federal government. They were established in 1934 and they save only 3-4 % of records created by the government. They have three main facilities. There are also 14 regional archival facilities. They also have Presidential libraries, from President Hoover on forward. They have over 1,000,000,000 pieces of paper and many other formats. Their website is www.archives.gov. The records are open to everyone. Everyone must register so they can keep track of use.

At the conclusion of this exchange, the delegation toured the facility, including the Beijing Municipal Archives' scanning operation, conservation area, and exhibit area.

Delegation Visit with the Chinese Archives Society

Beijing, China
October 13, 2008

Representing the Chinese Archives Society (CAS):
Mr. Feng Hewang, President of CAS
Mr. Sun Senlin, Secretary of CAS
Ms. Huo Lihua, Deputy Secretary of CAS
Mr. Qiu Xiaowe, Vice Director of Archives Science and Technology Research Center
Ms. Wang Jian, Professor from School of Information Resource Management (SIRM) at Renmin University of China
Mr. Fang Ming, Vice Director of Archives Education Center
Mr. Fu Hua, Vice Chief Editor of the Chinese Archives Newspaper

Overview of the Chinese Archives Society

The Chinese Archives Society (CAS) is a registered legal organization that represents all archivists in China. CAS acts as the bridge between the Communist Party, the government, and archivists. It is an important vehicle for education. It was established in November 1981 and resides under the leadership of the China Association of Science and Technology and the Civil Administration Department. CAS abides by all laws, morals, and ethics and promotes a democratic society and scientific research. [Note that the term "scientific" as used here is meant to convey a disciplined approach to the profession, following standards and best practices.] It is focused on the scientific development of archives and the modernization of the profession in China. They help archives to modernize. The society is affiliated with the government’s National Archives Bureau.

CAS has 12 areas of activity, including:
1. Promote academic development of the profession (including an annual meeting with Japanese archivists);
2. Promote the scientific development of the profession;
3. Develop a management system for digital files;
4. Promote involvement in policymaking;
5. Publish findings in papers and in a professional journal;
6. Continuing education of its members;
7. Recognize those professionals who have made outstanding contributions;
8. Provide consultation on facilities and technologies;
9. Provide research services for entrusted and related allied agencies for specific programs;
10. Promote the exchange of scientific ideas;
11. Ensure the rights of members; and
12. Carry out activities on behalf of its members.

The CAS membership: 7,412 individual members (with professional and educational prerequisites [includes students?]); plus group members (agencies and organizations).
Total: 101,000 members.

CAS has seven associated professional committees, including:
• Academic
• Filing & Compiling
• Filing, Cataloging & Appraising
• AV technology
• Management of Automation Technology; and
• Corporate Files

CAS publications include an Archives Study Journal that is distributed throughout China. Other journals are published bimonthly. The CAS website is located at www.wdjj.cn.

Each Global Archives Management delegate received a copy of "China Archives News," published July 18, 2008. This issue of the paper is published in English and carries a banner that reads, "The Only Archival Newspaper in the World – Founded in Beijing on January 9, 1995." Stories covered in the paper include coverage of the International Congress on Archives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia [it is possible that this issue of the paper was developed for distribution at the ICA Congress]; efforts to document the Olympic Games in Beijing; information on China's hierarchical system for archival work, starting with the central government; Chinese electronic records management efforts; the impact of the Sichuan Province earthquake on archives and archivists, and their response to it; and the Chinese archival education system.

The CAS is an academic and non-governmental organization based on volunteers. CAS representatives expressed the hope that communications between their organization and the Society of American Archivists can be continued and strengthened.

Overview of Society of American Archivists (SAA)

Ms. Elizabeth Adkins, former SAA President and leader of the delegation, provided an overview of the Society of American Archivists.

SAA was established in 1936. It’s the oldest and largest association of archivists in North America. We thought we might be the largest in the world until we learned about the Chinese Archives Society.

SAA has two major membership categories: individual and institutional. Individual members include regular, associate and student members. Institutional members are organizations. Associate members are individual members who are not from the United States – and are entitled to a discount. Regular members have more membership benefits. SAA has approximately 5,200 members, of which 4,600 are individuals, and 600 are institutional members.

The mission of SAA is to facilitate education and learning within the archives community. This is accomplished through major programs: publications, educational offerings, and an annual conference. Anyone can join, including non-archivists. SAA publishes a professional journal, The American Archivist, twice per year, and a newsletter called Archival Outlook, once every two months.

SAA primarily accomplishes its work through volunteers on committees and task forces. It has a paid staff of about a dozen people who work in SAA’s Chicago office to manage the education program and the publications program, organize the annual meeting, and provide member services. It is independent (not associated with the government) – it’s grown in a more ad hoc manner.

SAA has an elected body (the Council) that governs SAA, with officers and representatives who chart the strategic direction of SAA. A few years ago, the SAA Council made an assessment of the current state of profession in North America, and what might be done to develop and support it. The Council developed three top strategic priorities:
- Technology: dealing with electronic records and the corresponding implications
- Diversity: ensuring that the profession reflects the diversity of society as a whole
- Public awareness and advocacy: raising understanding and acting as an advocate for issues of professional importance

Elizabeth brought a handout that describes work that has addressed these three top priorities, as well as a printout from SAA’s website with the URL (http://www.archivists.org), so additional information about the organization can be accessed. She also provided copies of an SAA recruitment brochure with information on how to join the organization.

Elizabeth talked about SAA's efforts to launch American Archives Month. Since October of 2007, SAA has led efforts to consolidate what had formerly been ad hoc and regional celebrations of Archives Week or Archives Day (usually during the month of October). SAA has distributed American Archives Month public relations kits to each of its members, as a way to help members promote their collections and their programs. They have also provided information on American Archives Month activities on SAA's website. Elizabeth distributed copies of the latest American Archives Month public relations kits.

Every year at the SAA Annual meeting we offer presidential addresses, highlighting some of the most important issues facing archivists in the United States. Elizabeth provided copies of her address from August 2007 talking about diversity, as well as the address from August 2008 by Mark Greene, our immediate past president. His address is on the topic of what it means to be an archivist and what our values should be.

Elizabeth provided one final handout on the topic of access to archives in the U.S., from a Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission seminar in Tokyo last about access to archives. SAA sponsored the seminar, and SAA leaders participated in it.

Presentation by Mr. Fu Hua

He has toured archives in the United States twice and has read about the profession in the U.S. He has learned about the contrasts in the profession in both countries. The administration in China is more centralized than in the U.S. Various government agencies maintain their own archives and archivists with their own repositories with two to ten employees each.

They are using the same standards among the various government agencies, creating less need for the transfer of records in China. Sometimes two local agencies may share the same repository.

After learning about the U.S. administration of archives, reforms were proposed in China, but not all were implemented. The Code of Freedom of Information archives law is an example of one such reform; it was initiated in 1987. The law states that records may be accessed 30 years after they are created. Regular citizens who follow certain procedures may now access records. There are record centers now where the public may conduct research.

There are many archives established by businesses, organizations, and public enterprises. Some conduct research about specific subject areas or histories of their institutions.

Presentation by Mr. Qiu Xiaowei

Three stages in the organization of archival information resources in China:
1. During the 1980s, they managed files with the assistance of computers.
2. Archives Pre-Informationization Stage (1990s – 2000): they learned from U.S. counterparts to establish standards.
3. Third stage: establishment of digital archives, integrated management of electronic records. Conversion of records into digital forms for public access.

They are in the process of collecting more resources on archival information and integrating them with existing paper resources. They are developing archival theory in China. There are 11 five-year plans for the national archives. They are working to provide more access to and sharing of information.

Archival information is an essential information component for a nation. He provided the example of local farmers needing access to county archival records, which increased their income ten-fold. There are some who still believe archival records belong to government agencies and have no place for public use.

Many records have been digitized and can now be accessed from the Internet. Efforts are being made to ensure open access to information.

The government is now providing more active financial support for archival management. They are working to integrate their current databases, and to digitize files and collections to allow more open access. They are facing new challenges in creating and managing electronic files, and are trying to learn more from professional counterparts.

Central construction of e-government must be accomplished by application of strict archival management guidelines. They must equip their archivists to be prepared to address challenges of digitization. They hope to work on more open access to archival users. Limited equipment and facilities inhibit user access. They want to conquer the problem of unequal access to information to promote a more harmonious society. There are barriers between different departments in sharing information. From the U.S., they learned to survey individual user needs.

Presentation by Wang Jian

Dr. Wang is a member of the International Council on Archives (ICA), and is involved with archival education. From 2005 through 2006 she was a guest lecturer at the University of Michigan School of Information. She is involved in research on electronic records. Electronic records laws are just emerging in China, e.g. electronic signatures.

Three national standards for appraisal and management of electronic records have been developed since 2005. They are currently in the process of implementing these standards nationwide. CAS is working on a joint project with the University of China on optimizing electronic records; the findings will be reported to the national government. Several Chinese archivists are currently involved in the development of ISO electronic records standards. They are interested in the U.S. Presidential Records Act, and the U.S. national strategy to preserve electronic records (Electronic Records Archives).

Presentation by Mr. Fang Ming

There are many challenges for archival education in colleges and within local government agencies. A total of 29 institutions provide professional training in China, from bachelor degrees to doctoral levels.

The professional training of archivists is receiving greater attention. The major responsibility of the National Archives Bureau is to maintain educational standards. The officials above the province level and those at the central national level receive their education at the central bureau. At the provincial level there are 26 centers for education. All the training centers for provincial records are for archivists of their areas. There is currently tremendous stress in training due to the huge population of China, which produces huge quantities of governmental records.

There are more than 1 million people working in archives in China. There is not great stability in the archives workforce; there is a high turnover. Most workers are women. The training is both continuing education and on-the-job. There is a need to widen the educational horizons of the beginning workers. There is a greater need for basic training in preservation. Training for digital records is a hot training topic. They need to develop different management approaches for varying record formats, e.g. images. The task of making lectures attractive and interesting is challenging. Online training has been initiated as well.

Under the leadership of CAS some experienced instructors provide online training, which helps those who are unable to get away from regular duties. Now in China they have an equivalent of a Masters Degree diploma. They are corresponding with the East Asia branch of ICA for cooperation in education. It is their hope for mutual training of U.S. and Chinese archivists.

Questions and Answers

Q. I’m interested in obtaining a copy of the government legislation of statutes of archives for application to Hong Kong, where no legislation exists.
A. www.zgdazxw.com.cn – specific column contains statutes and regulation.

Q. In the U.S., we have multiple organizations around the management of information. There is a different focus between archives [historical documents] vs. records management – creating a different challenge for us. Electronic information has helped mitigate this problem. By “archives,” do you mean all historical documents and records management?
A. The terms includes both.

Q. Procter & Gamble has been in China for the past twenty years and is considering starting a local archives program. Are you familiar with any other companies or corporations in China that have started archival programs? Do they belong to any professional associations?
A. Many. CAS includes corporate members. Corporate archives can apply for different types of services. Both private and public companies can be included.

Question for Elizabeth Adkins:
CAS was founded 45 years after SAA – our professionals tend to be younger. CAS staff are all paid. We may be facing changes due to world economic situation. The U.S., given its smaller population, has a higher ratio membership. At the same time, SAA covers all of North America. SAA has a larger staff – what is the source of their salary?

A. Every member must pay dues. SAA obtains revenue from dues, publication sales, professional workshops, and annual conference fees.

The first SAA paid staff member started 30 years ago. Positions are very demanding, and still cannot meet all the needs and goals of the Society. The top staff position at SAA is the Executive Director. The salaries for the SAA staff positions have been compared with other corresponding organizations through information obtained from the American Society for Association Executives. SAA's salaries tend to be proportionally smaller. We are lucky to have a dedicated and hard-working professional staff.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Time gets away so quickly that I have been struggling to compile my notes. However, I wanted to get something down before I forgot what all my jottings meant! Below is a compilation of my diary notes. Please let me know if I have utterly misrepresented something or (worse) misspelled a name.

People to People Program
Global Archives Management Tour
Beijing and Shanghai
October 2008

Daily Diary
By D. Claudia Thompson

Twenty two American archivists and five guests spent a week visiting our Chinese counterparts in Beijing and Shanghai as part of a People-to-People program. Our delegation was headed by Elizabeth Adkins, former president of the Society of American Archivists.
We landed in Beijing Sunday, October 12, after a long plane trip that took us over North Korea with a stop in Seoul to refuel and a change of planes in Hong Kong, where a few members of our group, who had traveled separately, joined us. We also met our national guide, Hou Liping (Wendy). At the Hotel Kunlun we had our first encounter with 5 star accommodations (huge buffet breakfasts and a private safe in every room) and our first taste of Chinese-style dining (fifteen entrees jostling for space on one lazy susan). I am rooming with Kathy Marquis. Kathy went out in the evening to walk around the hotel and the Liang Ma River. I was grateful just to crawl into bed.
Day 1 (Monday, October 13): We were informed it was a “clear” day, which meant it wasn’t raining. The horizon was badly obscured by smog, however. Our bus took us to the China Archives Press building, where we met with some representatives of the Society of Chinese Archivists. The “China Archives News” bills itself as the only archival newspaper in the world and the Society of Chinese Archivists is the largest archival professional organization in the world.. Still we found a lot of common ground. Chinese archivists are concerned about electronic records management, archival training, and lack of respect and understanding from their employers, all issues we could relate to. In this building I also first encountered the Chinese washroom and “squat” toilet, which requires good knees and strong thighs. We also met Wang Jian (Jenny), a professor at Renmin University. Jenny offered to take us out in the evening, and about ten of us met her for dinner and a walk along Qianmen Street, a restored section of old Beijing. Because this excursion required us to take taxis, I had my first close look at the fearless Chinese pedestrians, who stand between lanes of moving traffic. This practice would be safer if the Chinese motorists stayed in the marked lanes.
Day 2 (Tuesday, October 14): Our morning was spent sightseeing in Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City with our local guide, Liu Ping (Olivia). The Forbidden City is a complex of buildings surrounded by a wall. The compound was once the residence of the Chinese emperors and their court. In Tiananmen Square we first encountered the ubiquitous souvenir vendors who besieged us at nearly every public spot. They sold postcards, watches, Mao-themed anything, silk purses, parasols, and a dozen other things. All prices were infinitely negotiable, and some of us paid much more than others for the same merchandise. In the afternoon we visited the Beijing City Archives, where we met the director, vice director, cataloging manager, and reference manager. We discussed digitization and websites and visited their beautiful public reading room. Our dinner was held at the Yayuncun Quanjude Beijing Roast Duck Restaurant, which featured roast duck and grilled scorpions. Lee Stout and I enjoyed four scorpions each!
Day 3 (Wednesday, October 15): In the morning our bus took us a little ways into the country to visit the Great Wall at the Juyongguan Pass. In the parking lot where the numerous buses unloaded their tourists from all over the world, a Chinese family pulled me into their family group to take a picture with them. Contrary to my expectations, walking the wall entailed more climbing of stairs than strolling between battlements. Those of us who had been feeling overfed and under-exercised soon forgot any such complaints! After lunch we toured a cloisonné factory and went shopping at the Da Yi (Friendship) government store. Here, we were told, quality was guaranteed and there would be no need to negotiate. Not true! Many of us found that if we hesitated over a purchase, the price would start to slip. In the afternoon we met with the faculty and students of the School of Information Resource Management at Renmin University. Here we met Jenny again, and here Wendy’s skills as a translator were most severely tested by such archival jargon as “EAD” and discussions of records management vs. archives (a division of concept the Chinese do not share). In the evening a group of us went to a the Liyuan Theatre for a performance of traditional Beijing Opera, which proved to be a great treat involving more comedy and juggling than singing.
Day 4 (Thursday, October 16): This day was spent traveling from Beijing to Shanghai. The flight was short (under two hours). After arrival we went to dinner, followed by a wonderful acrobatic show at the Shanghai Art Theatre, escorted by our new local guide Li Ke (Eric). Later we settled in at Le Royal Meridien Hotel near the People’s Park.
Day 5 (Friday, October 17): In the morning we went to the Shanghai Municipal Archives on the Bund and were given a tour of the stacks and conservation areas of the facility. The Shanghai Municipal Archives serves a population of 22 million and the Beijing archives a population of 18 million, so these municipal archives are comparable to any state archives in the United States. We also toured a large exhibit which used documentary resources to interpret the history of Shanghai for the city’s school children and general public. After lunch we visited the Shanghai Museum and met briefly with one of the curators. After the meeting we wandered the multiple galleries of the museum, which featured four thousand years of Chinese art and artifacts. In the evening Kathy Marquis and I walked along the Nanjing Road pedestrian mall beside the hotel. Street vendors tried to sell us robo-toys that lit up.
Day 6 (Saturday, October 18): With the weekend our professional meetings came to an end. In the morning we went to the Shanghai Jade Buddha Temple. The temple was a complex of buildings, very crowded with both tourists and worshipers. The culmination of many beautiful things was a magnificent Buddha statue of white jade, life size or greater. Our next stop was a silk factory, where we admired the amazing labor put into hand-weaving the silk carpets and hangings and learned how to distinguish the qualities of silk weaving by the number of thread per inch. After lunch we visited the Yu Garden, originally a private estate, and shopped in Shanghai’s Old Town, where we honed our bargaining skills further. After a long day of walking, we were glad to visit the old Astor House Hotel for a traditional Chinese foot massage, which, it turned out, extended to the legs and even the shoulders.
Day 7 (Sunday October 19): After breakfast the bus took us to the Bund. This is the famous business district of colonial Shanghai facing the Huangpu River. The Astor House Hotel was here. On Sunday morning we walked along the pedestrian street on the waterfront, threading our way between street vendors (many selling kites) and Chinese families enjoying the day together. The weather was especially hot and muggy but clear. At about 11 we re-boarded the bus and traveled to the Caoyang residential area community center, where we had tea and admired the facilities for children and retirees. Chinese men retire at 55 and Chinese women retire at 50, we were told. We then split into three groups, each of which lunched in the home of a different family in the area. Like our restaurant lunches, the family lunch consisted of numerous dishes arrayed on a lazy susan. We could not possibly eat all of it. The apartment was small but very modern and comfortable. The couple that lived there was retired. In the afternoon we were free to amuse ourselves, so I sent for a walk in the People’s Park. As I was coming out I met two young people in their twenties who wanted to practice their English with me. The young man introduced himself as Alex and the young woman as Michelle. In English classes, all students are assigned an English name, which they use when they are learning English, so they gave me these, which I could remember. Michelle admired my long hair and asked if I was a dancer (I said no). Alex said they were going to a Kong Fu tea shop to see the tea ceremony. Would I like to come? I agreed to go with them. We walked a few blocks to a tea shop in a mall. As with the foot massage, we were shown to a private room, where a young woman made a number of different sorts of tea for us, explaining how it should be made, how we should hold our cups, and how to drink. Alex sat beside me and translated, occasionally exclaiming about how much I reminded him of his mother (thank you so much, Alex). Because I paid for the ceremony, Michelle presented me with a beautiful set of tea cups that had been offered for sale to us. In the evening the group met for a farewell dinner at A Yat’s restaurant near the Bund. Many of us took the occasion to wear some of our purchases in the silk stores of Shanghai.

Extension Tour
Xi’an and Kunming

Day 8 (Monday, October 20): Today most of the group left to return home, but six of us had signed up for the extension tour to Xi’an and Kunming. Our group left the hotel later (about 10 AM). Eric took us to the airport in a van, gave us our tickets, and sent us off. The flight was a little delayed, but we landed in Xi’an about 3 PM and met our new guide, Hu Xin (Kevin), who is a native of Xi’an. We also met Karen Nelson, from a People to People jurisprudence tour, who was joining us for the extension. We visited the Wild Goose Pagoda, where thousands of sacred Buddhist texts are stored. A few of us hunted anxiously through the dusk before we found the Buddha statue that we were told we should rub on the tummy for luck. Dinner was at the Han Tang restaurant. Finally we checked into the Hyatt Regency, where I am rooming with Helen Wong Smith from Hawaii. Xi’an is further inland and higher in altitude than Beijing or Shanghai. Its city walls are largely intact. Our hotel was located only a little distance from one of the gates.
Day 9 (Tuesday, October 21): After breakfast at the hotel we boarded a bus for the Shaanxi History Museum. Although not as varied as the Shanghai Museum, the Shaanxi Museum contained many artifacts from one of the most historic areas of China, including examples of some of the terracotta warriors of Xi Huang-ti, first emperor of a united China. Later in the morning we went to a jade carving factory, where we watched some carvers at work and learned how to gauge the quality of jade. We learned that jade comes in many colors besides green, can only be cut by diamonds, an is most prized for its translucence. We also had an opportunity to shop. Shortly after noon we departed for the site of Xi Huang-ti’s tomb and the museum of the terracotta warriors, which lies some distance outside of the town. On arrival we had lunch before going into Pit #1, where warriors, horses, and chariots can be seen in their original positions. Once more we encountered large crowds of Chinese and other Asian tourists. Pit #2, in another building a short walk away, contained a still active archaeological site where terracotta figures still lie in broken fragments or half dug out of the ground. Pit #3 was very little excavated but included displays of some of the most intact figures found so far. Before leaving we visited the on-site museum. In the evening we attended a performance at the Shaanxi Grand Opera House of music and dance and had dinner at a dim sum restaurant.
Day 10 (Wednesday, October 22): At 8:30 we departed from the hotel in Xi’an Xi’an was significantly cooler than Beijing or Shanghai and was foggy throughout our stay, although we were again lucky to avoid rain. Arrive at Kunming about 1 PM. Although China’s landmass stretches over what would normally be four time zones, Beijing time is legislated throughout the country, so we had lots of daylight ahead of us. Met our new local guide, Hu Jian Hong (Stephen) and checked in at Horizon Hotel. We then re-boarded the bus for a trip a little way outside Kunming to the Golden Temple, a Taoist sanctuary from the 17th century with walls covered by copper rather than gold. Outside the temple we encountered man with a Bactrian camel who allowed tourists to mount and take pictures for 10 yuan. Dianne and Helen and Dee and I all climbed on, one by one, for the short ride on the camel’s back. In this temple, too, active worship was carried on among tourists who were only there to look. One Chinese family stopped us to take a picture of Lee and their little boy together. In the evening we went to a show called “Dynamic Yunnan.” Yunnan is the province where Kunming is located. It is on the border of China in the southwest and is home to many ethnic minorities. Stephen told us that there are fifty-eight ethnic minorities in China, although the dominant Han people make up 96% of China’s total. The show was intended to celebrate the cultures of Yunnan’s minorities and featured singing, dancing, and colorful costumes. It’s subtitle, “A Grand Primitive Song & Dance Medley,” made me wonder how our own ethnic minorities would like being called primitive.
Day 11 (Thursday, October 23): Helen left us today. Since her flight for Hawaii took off in the early afternoon, she could not accompany us on our tour of the Stone Forest. The rest of us departed for the Stone Forest by bus at 8:30 and arrived about 10. The Stone Forest is a natural formation of limestone formed into pillars by submersion on an ancient seabed. Portions of the area have been floored with walkways, and vendors with local handicrafts of the Yunnan peoples compete for the attention of the usual crowds of tourists. Since the area is extensive, our guide hired a golf cart for us. Our driver was a young woman wearing a traditional Yi costume and headdress. There were many such drivers, all wearing the colorful costumes. We walked where the floor was level and drove over some narrow roads to see more and took many pictures. After lunch at a restaurant in the area, we were bused to Sani Village. This was a town in the hills where Han and Yi people both live. We walked through the village, attracting some attention by our strange appearance. Most of the houses were covered in golden corn cobs. We were told it was an indication of a good harvest. We noted that the houses, which were crowded close together, had electricity and televisions, but the farming we had seen in the area was carried on by human and animal power. Nearly every door was protected by colorful paper pictures of heavenly guardians. On the way back we stopped at another silk factory, which specialized in making silk bed comforters. Our last dinner was held at the Horizon Hotel in a revolving restaurant on the top floor.
Day 12 (Friday, October 24): We rose at 6:30. Traffic was bad to the airport. We were delayed by highway closure. No signs had been posted, so vehicles had no warning that the highway was closed until they encountered the construction. Then they were forced to turn around and go back into the oncoming traffic. Incredible chaos. Stephen was quite blunt in condemnation of the local government. He clearly regarded this as a typical example of its incompetence. Nevertheless, we got to the airport on time for our flight to Hong Kong. Laetitia did not accompany us. She stayed behind to tour the area further on her own, so our group was reduced to five. We left Hong Kong at about noon. After a twelve hour flight, we landed in Los Angeles at 11:30 am (local time) the same day. So I had the experience of being in two places at the same time. At LAX our little group broke up to pursue different ways home. I went to the Travel Lodge to spend the night, so I could face the flight to Denver, and the drive to Laramie, somewhat refreshed.