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The National Archives Act

Law No. 66/1985

§ 1.

The National Archives of Iceland is an independent institution for the preservation of records under the direction of the Ministry of Education and Culture.

The domicile of the Archives is in Reykjavik

The cost of running the Archives is to be defrayed by the State Treasury in accordance with the annual contribution of the Budget.

The President of Iceland appoints the Director of the National Archives according to the suggestion of the Minister of Education and Culture having obtained the opinion of the supervising board of the Archives. The Director of the National Archives is responsible for the daily operations of the National Archives and is their outward representative.

The Minister of Education appoints archivists according to the advice of the supervising board. Other employees are engaged by the Director of the National Archives with the approval of the supervising board. A record specialist or a historian with archival training is to be occupied in the Archives.

§ 2.

The supervising board of the National Archives oversees the running of the Archives. The supervising board formulates the policy of the Archives and supervises the making and execution of its budget. The board also deals with the destruction of records in archives, covered by the Act.

The Ministry of Education appoints members of the supervising board for a term of four years. The board is comprised as follows: The Director of the National Archives is a member the board because of his position. One member is nominated by the Historical Institute of the University of Iceland. One is nominated by the permanent staff of the National Archives and one member is appointed without nomination. The Ministry of Education appoints one of the members as a chairman.

The board holds its meetings whenever needed. The proceedings of the board shall be kept in an entry book. The members of the board are entitled to have their particular views entered into the book. The majority of votes prevail. If votes fall equal, the vote of the chairman prevails.

§ 3.

The function of the National Archives is to collect and keep records and other documentary material concerning the history of Iceland> for the use of government agencies and individuals in order to ensure their interests and rights and for use in scientific research and scholarly studies.

Whenever records and documentary material are mentioned in this Act, it refers to any kind of records, written as well as in any other form, which contain information and has their origin in the functions performed by an institution or an individual, whether written records, maps, plans, photographs, films, slides, sound recordings, machine-readable material, tapes or any parallel material.

The State Broadcasting service (radio and television) shall preserve motion pictures, discs and tapes as decided by the director and the supervising board of the Broadcasting Service after consulting the Director of the National Archives.

§ 4.

The functions to be carried out by the National Archives are among other things:

1. To acquire and preserve records of the public offices and institutions, which are due for delivery according to article 5 of this Act.

2. To inspect the archives of officials and institutions, which are obliged to deliver records, give them advice, guidelines on the management of records and computer registration and determine on the destruction of records, which are considered unnecessary for preservation.

3. To provide instruction on the management of archives, intended for people, who are to serve in public institutions, by such means as courses and booklets of guidance.

4. To record preserved archives and publish printed or mimeographed catalogues as a guide for their use.

5. To establish a reference library on archival and historical matters.

6. To inspect the running of the regional archives and other archival institutions which keep public records.

7. To give advice to user-visitors on the use of the preserved records and documentary material of the Archives, point out relevant source material as far as possible, increase the knowledge of national history and support studies in it.

8. To keep open a search room for the public, where scholarly work can be undertaken and uses made of the documents and source materials preserved in the Archives.

9. To collect other written records on the history of the nation, both at home and abroad, including electrostatic copies and other reproductions of records, if the original ones are not available, and strive for their preservation.

10. To run a restoration workshop and bookbindery and apply such technical methods as are deemed suitable to execute the function of the Archives.

§ 5.

The following offices and institutions shall transfer their records to the National Archives for preservation: The office of the President of Iceland, The Althing, The Supreme Court, the Cabinet and Ministries, also other public institutions, state owned companies, associations that obtain the majority of running funds through a contribution from the Budget, and companies that are to a great extent financially supported by public funds.

Local Government records and those of local government institutions should also be transferred to the National Archives, if they are not associated with a provincial archive which they can deliver their records to.

The Archives may accept records from other parties which are not obliged to deliver their records.

§ 6.

Records that are due for delivery shall as a rule be transferred to the National Archives when they have reached 30 years of age, observing the last entry in a register or the last letter in a closed case. The Director of the National Archives may prolong or abbreviate this respite in certain cases, if particular circumstances allow.

The directors of institutions that are obliged to deliver records to the Archives are responsible for the keeping of records in their institution.

Institutions that are obliged to deliver records to the Archives are obliged to follow the directions of the Archives on registration, sorting and final arrangement of the records.

New systems of record management and repositories shall be approved by the National Archives before they come into use.

§ 7.

Parties obliged to deliver their records are not allowed to dispose of any records in their archives, unless they have the permission of the National Archives or by certain rules to be laid down on the destruction of records.

§ 8.

Parties obliged to deliver their records are entitled to borrow records or to obtain copies of records delivered to the National Archives, if they should require them in connection with their work.

The National Archives is allowed to lend records for use in the reading room of the National Library and to public archives, libraries and research institutions, if they have the facilities to according to the judgement of the Director of the National Archives. Other lending is usually not allowed. Institutions which borrow records are responsible for their keeping and return in due time.

§ 9.

Access to records which are kept in the National Archives and their use shall be determined in a regulation which the Ministry of Education establishes according to the advice of the Director of the National Archives.

§ 10.

The most important records of the Archives shall be conserved on films and copies kept in a safe place outside the domicile of the Archives.

§ 11.

When records, which according to the judgement of the Director of the National Archives, are of scholarly importance, but are privately owned, are transferred out of the country it shall be reported to the National Archives and the Archives has the right to make an agreement for their copying electrostatically or by other methods before the records are taken out of the country.

§ 12.

The Board of the National Archives may permit district councils and town councils to establish regional archives to preserve records pertaining to the respective municipalities, districts and civil parishes, if satisfactory accommodation and other conditions exist according to the judgement of Director of the National Archives. The councils of districts and municipalities are permitted to establish a common district archives for more than one district or town. The archives are the common property of these parties, and they shall agree to the running and management and make an agreement which the Director of the National Archives shall confirm.

§ 13.

If a regional archive falls into disregard and the conditions on which the archive was founded is no longer in existence, the Director of the National Archives shall draw the attention of the Board to what has gone wrong and ask for improvement. If repeated warning is not heeded, the Director of the National Archives shall transfer the records to the National Archives at the cost of those parties, which are responsible for the regional archives.

§ 14.

Where regional archives operate, records of district councils, municipal councils and civil parish councils in the district shall be transferred to the regional archives. Public records of all institutions and officials of these institutions, records of companies and associations which are to a great extent subsidised by public funds and operate solely within the district of the regional archives, shall be deposited in the regional archives.

The delivery of records to the regional archives follows the same rules as deliveries to the National Archives.

Further provisions regarding regional archives e.g. which parties are liable for delivery of records, shall be put into a regulation.

§ 15.

The lending of records from regional archives and their use is subject to the same rules as apply to the National Archives.

§ 16.

Regional archives shall receive an annual grant from the State Treasury according to the Budget at each time.

§ 17.

The Ministry of Education issues a regulation containing further points on carrying out this law.

§ 18.

This law comes into force immediately. Concurrently the law number 7 from February 12th 1947 on regional archives and law number 13 from March 17th 1969 on the National Archives of Iceland fall out of use.