Archivist Explains the Functions of the National Archives of St. Kitts and Nevis

Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 22, 2016 (SKNIS): The National Archives of St. Kitts and Nevis is given the duty of being the caretaker of records of historic interest which dates back to the late 18th Century as noted by Victoria O’Flaherty, Director of National Archives, while appearing on the Government’s weekly radio and television programme “Working for You” on Wednesday, September 21.

She stated that oftentimes persons are confused with items that are of great importance and it is the function of the National Archives to determine what should be preserved.

“Coming into the present day, something that people don’t realize is what is today’s piece of paper is tomorrow’s archive,” said Mrs. O’Flaherty. “These are things that we were trained to identify early through things like records management and so on. We are given the task to look after the records created by all the Ministries and Departments of Government, any past state of bodies, the schools, the police and the embassies abroad.

The Director of National Archives said records that should be submitted to the National Archives on a regular basis and out of the submissions the staff will select what needs to be kept. She explained that her Department is desirous of working closer with other departments to make the process of selecting documents and materials easier.

“What we really would like to do and what the law gives us the power to do is to sit down with the people who create these records,” said the Archivist. [We would like to] “work out with them from day one what they think needs to be kept so that they [the records] are targeted from the moment they are created and they start looking after them in the department, while they are still in use and then they will come to us in a fairly good condition.

Mrs. O’Flaherty further explained that the “archives are records of historical importance which are used in all sorts of formats” and produced for a variety of reasons. She noted that a simple act as going to supermarket and obtaining a receipt is a record of purchase, however, it is not something one would keep forever.

“If it is a title which shows that you actually paid for a piece of land, you are going to take care of that. So records are important documents that the country creates,” said Mrs. O’Flaherty. “They come to us in a digital format, they come to us as photographs, maps and wheel to wheel tapes. So there are various formats and we as a National Archives have the responsibility of looking after all these formats, understanding them and making sure that they last as long as possible.”

She said that time is an issue because it ruins everything. She further added that the exposure to light, dirt and humidity is considered factors that could ruin records whether it is on paper, tape or in digital format.

Data taken from states that in recent years, the National Archives has become more directly involved in the community through lectures and school visits, exhibitions, publications and radio programmes, as well as collaboration with cultural organizations.

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