CERN Archive Access Rules

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Free access applies to the majority of the scientific and technical material.

Restricted access applies to documents with restricted distribution, to files containing administrative documents, in particular correspondence, and to some declassified confidential material. These documents are normally closed for 30 years. Some confidential material may, exceptionally, be closed for a longer period.


The rules governing access to the CERN Archives are defined in the document "Rules applicable to archival material and archiving at CERN" which was adopted by the Management Board on 16th October 1997 and published at CERN as Operational Circular N° 3. The following text is an excerpt from the official document.


Rules for access to the CERN Archives

A. Introduction

16. Rules for access to material kept in the CERN Archives follow general archival practices applied in other international organizations and in public archives in Europe.

17. The CERN Archives are not public archives; they primarily serve as an information source for the Organization. However, access is given to persons outside CERN upon request when there is justified interest.

18. There are two categories of users, internal and external, to whom different rules of access apply :

Internal users are members of the personnel of CERN. They have free access to documents and files of a purely scientific nature which have not been subject to restricted distribution and which do not contain any confidential information.

External users are persons who are not or are no longer members of the personnel of CERN. In principle, they have to send a written request to the Archivist. If access is requested to archival material which does not have free-access status, then the request is forwarded to the Director-General to obtain authorization for consultation.

19. There exist three levels of access according to the type of archived material. The level of access to a document or file is generally decided by the creator of the document or file and is indicated in the catalogue of the CERN Archives.

Free access applies to the majority of the scientific and technical material archived.

Restricted access applies to documents with restricted distribution, to files containing administrative documents, in particular correspondence, and to some declassified confidential material. Restricted access can be imposed by the originator or by CERN Management.

Protected access applies to confidential material for a period of thirty years, which may be extended in exceptional cases to fifty years.

20. For consultation and information retrieval, free access to the catalogues of the CERN Archives' holdings on databases is given to users inside and outside CERN via the WWW. The catalogued records describe the documents and files held in t he CERN Archives, indicating their access status.

21. All users must contact the Archivist to gain access to the CERN Archives.

22. All users must comply with the present rules; in case of non-compliance, the Director-General may decide to prohibit future access.

 

B. Levels of access

1) For internal users

23. Documents and files with free-access status

Internal users have free access to these documents and files.

24. Documents and files with restricted-access status

Requests for access to documents or files with restricted-access status must be of justified interest and the intended use of the information extracted must be disclosed. CERN Management have access to all documents and files of the Organization. Division leaders and spokespersons of collaborations (or delegated persons) have unrestricted access to the documents and files of their own division or collaboration. For documents and files of another provenance, prior authorization from the originator or the Director-General is needed for consultation and/or copying. All other users who are members of the personnel of CERN need prior authorization from the originator, via the CERN Archivist. Non-staff members will be asked to fill in and sign a "Declaration" on the intended use of the information and, if applicable, concerning copies made or received from the CERN Archives.

25. Protected access

In cases where information is needed out of files whose content is partly confidential, the information may be extracted out of the file by the Archives' staff without giving access to the whole file. If the information itself is confidential or restricted, prior authorization is needed as outlined in § 24.

2) For external users

26. Documents and files with free-access status

External users need to contact the CERN Archivist, preferably in writing, to consult documents and files with free-access status.

27. Documents and files with restricted-access status

Requests for access to documents or files with restricted access must be of justified interest and the intended use of the information extracted must be disclosed. Authorized external users, having made a written request to the Director-General of CERN, may also need authorization from the originator, via the CERN Archivist, to have copies made from documents and files with restricted-access status. They must fill in and sign a "Declaration" on the intended use of the information and, if applicable, concerning copies made or received from the CERN Archives.

28. Protected access

In cases where information is needed out of files whose content is partly confidential, the information may be extracted out of the file by the Archives' staff without giving access to the whole file. If the information itself is confidential or restricted, prior authorization is needed as outlined in § 27.

 

C. Categories of archival material

1) Documents and files with free-access status

29. These comprise:

  • All non-confidential documents of Council more than five years old. All non-confidential documents (unrestricted distribution) of CERN experiment committees and of technical and scientific committees and boards.

  • All CERN divisional reports, technical notes, specifications, etc. with free distribution.

  • CERN yellow reports.

  • Press releases, CERN annual reports, CERN Bulletin, Experiments at CERN and similar series.

  • In general, collections of a scientific nature from CERN staff (except documents or files marked confidential).

2) Documents and files with restricted-access status

30. In general, files with a closing date of less than 30 years containing correspondence have restricted access. This applies particularly to files with provenance from the Director-General, directors and division leaders and to documents from the subordinate bodies of Council (Committee of Council, Finance Committee, Scientific Policy Committee).

31. Parts of declassified confidential material may also have restricted-access status.

3) Confidential documents and files

32. As a rule, all confidential archival material is protected from access for a pre-determined time period. Sensitive information, in particular pertaining to individuals, is confidential and is protected for thirty years dating from the year of creation of the document or the closing date of the file, extended in exceptional cases to fifty years.

33. Files compiled by Personnel Division, Finance Division, the Medical Service and the Pension Fund, as long as they remain the responsibility of these divisions or services, are not accessible via the CERN Archives. Administrative Circular N° 10 describes the conditions for access of these special collections. Archiving of these collections is subject to agreements with the CERN Archivist and future transfer of part of the collections will be subject to discussions between the relevant parties. 34. Various types of interviews with members of the personnel of CERN constitute the oral history collection. Recorded interviews are treated as confidential material, except interviews with purely scientific and technical aspects which have restricted-access status.

 

D. Regulations for access

1) General

35. Some of the archived documents and files have special restrictions concerning their availability for consultation, citation and/or publication imposed by their originators or by CERN Management.

36. Members of the personnel and authorized external users have access to the CERN Archives.

2) Obtaining authorization for access

37. Applications for access to the material kept in the CERN Archives should be made in writing to the CERN Archivist, indicating the reason for consultation. The form and the degree of authorization depends on the kind of collection to be con sulted and on the status of the applicant.

 

E. Use of archival material

38. No document may be removed from the Archives. Copies may only be made with the authorization of the Archivist and, when necessary, the originators of the document concerned.

39. The information extracted from all material belonging to the CERN Archives must be properly referenced by the user in order to identify the source.

40. Any authorization given by CERN is personal and not transferable. CERN's authorization for access to and use of its Archives in no way discharges the user from responsibilities and obligations concerning property and copyrights of CERN and of third parties.

 

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