Endangered archives blog

3 posts from October 2009

30 October 2009

Visits

Although it's exciting to receive material copied from all over the world, to be honest I sometimes wish I could visit all of the EAP projects first hand. That's why it's such a pleasure when members of the projects come to the Library and visit us instead. It puts a human face to all those correspondence emails and progress reports. Recently Cathy and I met members of two EAP projects.

Last month we were visited by Dr Fakhriati M. Thahir. Dr Thahir successfully completed a pilot project and is now working on a major project to digitise private collections of Acehnese manuscripts located in Pidie and Aceh Besar Regencies in Indonesia. The manuscripts being copied are held by private collectors and dealers. They contain stories and histories relating to the Acehnese lifestyle, the kingdom of Aceh and the war against colonialism. They also contain material relating to Islamic knowledge and Islamic mysticism (Sufism).

Here is a picture of Dr Thahir and myself at the British Library (I'm on the right):

EAP329 in british library 

Earlier this week Cathy and I caught up with Dr Tigran Zargaryan from the Fundamental Scientific Library of the Academy of Sciences, in Armenia. Dr Zargaryan's project is copying rare books, periodicals and newspapers dating back to the 16th century. The results of this project are being made available through the Fundamental Scientific Library's attractive and easy to use website. Some of the rare books may already be accessed via this site.

EAP180 from library site Girq_jamagrutyan

15 October 2009

Endangered Archives and Climate Change

This year the EAP Blog is participating in Blog Action Day. The organisers of the Day hope to encourage a global discussion on issues that are important to everyone. The theme for 2009 is 'climate change'. This is relevant to us as climate conditions, including temperature and humidity, have a real impact on the preservation and continued access of all archival material held anywhere in the world.

The climate both inside and outside a records store will influence the life of archives. A safe place will be secure, with suitable boxes and shelves and with controlled temperature and humidity. These things can be more easily regulated and managed than conditions outside the building. The climate of a particular region will, for example, influence rodent populations and mould growth. It will also dictate the likelihood of floods or bush fires.

Some EAP projects, such as the ten projects copying records in Indonesia, are working in hot, humid climates. Mould thrives in such conditions. Other projects, such as the 3 projects working in the Ukraine, will be less worried about mould. Everyone will be contending with ubiquitous environmental factors such as insects, possible water and fire damage, dust and dirt, sunlight, etc.

As climate patterns change so too will the environmental factors acting upon a particular archival collection. There are optimum temperature and humidity levels for the storage of different material types. While it's not always possible to achieve these, it's generally agreed that a stable environment is best. Wild fluctuations should be averted if possible.

And I couldn't really finish this post without mentioning the EAP project copying records from the Tuvalu National Archives. A noted reason for the endangerment of this material is the rising sea levels. The picture below shows just how slim the land mass of Tuvalu is.

EAP110 island photo

03 October 2009

September accessions

Last month the EAP received material from the following projects:

Tuvalu National Archives major project

Pages of Azerbaijan sound heritage

Digital archive of north Indian classical music

Preserving the archives of the United National Independence Party of Zambia

This provides an interesting mix of government and political records, traditional oral music and classical music. Audio material is always nice to receive as it's very accessible. All I have to do is put on my headphones and click on a track. Some of the written material can be less easy to access because of the variety of languages and scripts the materials display.

That's why I was very pleased to be able to read through some of the papers copied from the United National Independence Party (UNIP) of Zambia. Being official papers from Zambia, these are in English so I was able to indulge my natural curiosity and examine some of the files. These records contain Province Reports, Circulars, Party Provincial Administration papers and general Correspondence.

It was in one of this later file-type dated 1976 that I found a draft copy of a 'secret declaration'. Here it is:

EAP121 draft secret declaration page 1 

EAP121 draft secret declaration page 2 
The draft declaration goes through a consultation and re-writing process, all documented in the file. The UNIP collection also contains minutes of the National Council meetings and the National Conventions, speeches, research reports and correspondence with regional party headquarters. The project also copied papers belonging to the African National Congress, dating from the late 1940s to the early 1970s.