This year, 2018, The UWI celebrates its 70th Anniversary, under the theme “70 Years of Service, 70 Years of Leadership”. We, at the University Archives, have the custodial responsibility for managing every major decision, function and activity of this four campus regional institution. So what does 70 years of service and leadership look like?
The Archives of the UWI consists mainly of paper records, produced as part of the daily transactions of officers and decisions of committees, which through the auspices of sister-Records Management Offices, have been transferred to our custody. These records are both in files and bound volumes. Like all things created and used, paper records show the wear-and-tear of original office use, including paper-tears and (shoddy) tape repairs, as well as the fading of inks and ageing of paper. The use, by researchers, over the years have also taken its toll. In short, the early records of the UWI are starting to show its age and are in need of conservation (meaning, they need to undergo physical processes in order to prolong longevity). However, while it is our main task to preserve (that is, to create a most suitable environment for their long-term stability) these records, it is also our paramount duty to make these items accessible to users. Digitising these records would be the ideal way to provide greater access to the information, with less physical handling of the records.
Thankfully, we have expert help, right here in Jamaica! Our colleagues at the Jamaica Archives and Records Department (JARD) have the expertise and experience to do both: Conserve and Digitise!
The Jamaica Archives and Records Department (JARD) is the main governmental archival department with responsibility for “ensuring the efficient and effective management and use of official records/information, at all stages of the life cycle and to preserve those official and other archival records for current and future use, by the government and citizens of Jamaica, in order to strengthen national development.” JARD has three (3) Units – the Archives Unit, the Audiovisual Unit and the Government Records Centre, each playing a separate role to fulfil the Mission of the Department.
Archives Unit (Spanish Town)
This Unit is the main repository for the country’s archival collections, which dates back to the 17th century. The holdings include records from local and central governments, statutory bodies, private collections as well as records from different religious organisations. The Unit also houses facilities for the preservation and conservation of its holdings. This is undertaken by the Conservation Section which consists of the Bindery and the Reprographic areas. This section ensures the protection and preservation of records that are in a state of disrepair for future use and posterity using different conservation methods and microphotography.
In their recent visit, JARD staff assessed the quality and stability of the papers, inks, and bindings to determine how best to proceed with digitisation and conservation repairs needed. Once the report is received, the University Archives will ensure that the decisions that made The UWI the noble institution that it is, will continue to be available and accessible in order to inform the next 70 years–and beyond!
Happy 70th, UWI!