A collaborative project to improve global description and thus discovery of library material is shared and analyzed after a decade of activity. The Immigration History Research Center Archives and the National Archives of Estonia work together to arrange and describe archival collections, utilizing the assets of the two different institution. This project recognizes that the unique research material located in Minnesota holds importance to patrons in many countries, are a result of cultural and informational migration, and that access to this multilingual source material relies on robust description. The article provides the project’s context, and describes its administration.
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Related developments contributed to this possibility. As noted above, the changes in Estonia in the 1990s led Estonian archives, libraries and museums to begin collecting sources from the diaspora, and also heightened their interest in cooperating with communities and institutions around the globe. A transnational cultural heritage association, the Baltic Heritage Network (Balthernet), was founded in 2008 to foster cooperation between national and private archives, libraries, museums, and others invested in the cultural heritage of the Baltic diaspora. The Estonian Archives Working Group of Balthernet played (and continues to play) an important role within the Minnesota project, by launching and promoting it, and applying for financial support. Also, the Compatriots Program was founded by the Estonian Government in 2004; its third period (2014–2020) is currently in progress. This is a state program which aims at supporting Estonians living abroad by helping them preserve language skills, and maintain national culture and identity. The Compatriots Program also focuses on expatriate cultural heritage, including collecting, preserving and creating access, and as such, is a source of support for the NAE.
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