From Our Records: Preserving Archives

storm clouds

Storm clouds approaching the Mona, Jamaica, area.

This time of the year is known as hurricane season in the Caribbean.  Disasters can emerge at the drop of the proverbial hat.  A nice sunny day could suddenly erupt into bleak and stormy.  Authorities such as the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency encourage preparation as the most effective way to cope with such emergencies.  While we may prepare our homes and offices for disasters, we often forget to pay attention to the needs of our records.

A key function of an archivist is ensuring the preservation of archival materials. This we do by ensuring the physical stability of the item, whether it is a file, photograph, a vinyl tape, cassette tape or book and it’s intellectual value, by protecting its usage and content.

In this entry, we feature an interview with Ms Elizabeth Williams, the third University Archivist of the UWI. Here she is discussing preserving books with Dr Suzanne Francis-Brown, now Curator, University Museum. This excerpt was taken from the radio programme “Cover to Cover” which was originally broadcast on the former Radio Mona in 2003.

Ms Elizabeth Williams, former University Archivist, 2002-2007

Ms Elizabeth Williams, former University Archivist, 2002-2007

Ms Elizabeth Williams served as University Archivist from 2002 right up until her untimely death in 2007. She was instrumental in revising the proposal and securing the funds from university administration for a permanent repository for the University Archives. This repository, she felt, would improve the quality of archival services to the university. It is for this reason, the room where such services are provided, has been named in her honour.

The Elizabeth Williams Reading Room

The Elizabeth Williams Reading Room

We hope this information will help you to think practically and prepare adequately for any disaster that may arise in this hurricane season.

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