ID: 170



Elisa is the Chief Archivist of the Bank Group and the manager of the Knowledge & Information Services Unit in the Information & Technology Services (ITS) vice-presidency of the World Bank, in Washington, DC. In this position, Elisa leads the Bank Group Archives, the Bank Group Library, the Internal Documents Unit and the Archives Access to Information service to the public. Her mandate is to effectively develop and implement strategies for these functions in the context of the Open Agenda and the decentralized nature of the institution. Elisa joined the Bank in 1998 to develop a partnership program on Latin American Archives to reinforce archives programs in the region. She has played a leadership role in promoting partnerships for the Archives and preparing the strategy for the Archives disclosure. Prior to joining the Bank, she was a senior lecturer at Johns Hopkins University. Elisa has a Ph.D in Italian studies from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she was project coordinator of the Repertorium Columbianum.


Nurturing a Culture of Transparency: Setting Policies and Engaging the Institution to Facilitate Access to Information

Brief summary:

Opening the information of an organization to the public requires a robust information management program, a culture which supports this program and a well managed archives with arranged and described holdings. We will explore how this was implemented in the World Bank - multinational producer, customizer, and connector of development knowledge.


In 2010 the World Bank Board approved the Policy on Access to Information (AI Policy) which recognized that transparency and accountability are of fundamental importance to the development process and provided a presumption to disclose information in the Bank's possession unless it fell under one or more AI Policy exceptions. Successful fulfillment of the AI Policy relied on proper management of the Bank's information. Three policies would form the framework for success: the Policy on Management of Records, the Information Classification and Control Policy and the AI Policy itself. A change was also needed in the culture of the organization to ensure compliance with these policies and their fulfilment. Participatory and consultative approach used in creation of these policies ensured their ownership by the World Bank staff. A group of Information Management (IM) Focal Points was convened with representation from all areas of the organization to establish business processes and practices to facilitate compliance with the existing policy framework and development of IM strategy. The Archives adopted an efficient method for arranging and describing voluminous holdings to improve finding aids and enable access. The Archives is in the process of adopting the open-source ICA Access to Memory archival description application to make our archival descriptions available electronically. This will make our descriptions available to researchers through a flexible and customizable platform that supports hierarchical descriptions and international archival standards and provides automated import and export of our data. Researchers will enjoy a user-friendly interface that enables advanced searching, filtering, and navigation.

Scientific contribution:

The WBG Archives developed an approach to describing its holdings which leverages the records schedules and metadata related to those holdings. Analysis of records is limited to sampling to confirm the scope and content while more detailed analysis and description at the series level occurs only on the smaller fonds. This ensures efficient availability of finding aids to enable researchers to submit informed requests. The WBG Archives sponsored a workshop in 2012 on the role of archivists, scholars, and development practitioners in using history to inform development policy, linking a growing scholarly interest in the history of development with the Bank’s open agenda initiative. The Archives is enabling a more case-based research approach in the field of economic development and poverty reduction by surfacing archival information in the Bank's Project and Operations Portal.


Access to Information, Freedom of Information, Culture Change, Archives, Open Archives, Records Management, Knowledge Organization, Information Management, Transparency, Open Data, Policies, Open Development, Open Agenda