“There’s nothing wrong with changes, if it is in the right direction”—Winston Churchill
A new academic year has begun! And as it is with all New Year’s, changes great and small are inevitable. This September the University Archives welcomed the transfer of the staff and records of the now defunct Radio Education Unit (REU) and its flagship holding: the audio-visual collection of the Library of the Spoken Word (LSW).
The REU was established in the early 1950s and was responsible for producing radio programmes which were used in Jamaica and distributed within the Caribbean. As one of the early units of the new University College of the West Indies (UCWI) and in particular the Department of Extra-Mural Studies, the REU was a unique channel of adult education, with its radio programming on social, political, cultural, historical and academic import. The production output of the REU formed the nucleus of the LSW, a collection of audio recordings on a wide range of themes and topics and even more importantly, by the many great social, cultural, academic and political luminaries of the Caribbean.
Without a doubt, this transfer to the University Archives, Mona, is a change in the right direction. A comprehensive digitisation and preservation programme of the LSW is in its infancy stage, the collection is being organized in its new location and the University community will be advised as soon as it is available for use. The University Archives is collaborating with the University Library, Mona, in the provision of access to this rich collection. Additionally, the University Archives plans to continue the work the REU by doing field recordings of events and functions at the University’s Mona Campus.
In several ways, our record holdings are now reflecting a greater proportion of the university’s activities, in a wider variety of formats, our service base has broadened tremendously, our staff complement has increased by 50% and this transfer is the catalyst for other major archival initiatives. A change in the right direction, you ask? Yes, indeed!