City archives find new home
Stabroek News
January 30, 2004

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The municipal archives have found a new home, after spending many years stacked in disorganised fashion on a mezzanine floor of the cleansing department in Water Street, in conditions of heat and humidity.

The new quarters are located in the Mayor and City Council's (M&CC) Water Street Training Complex, which has been provided with proper shelving, and which it is hoped to air-condition on a twenty-four hour basis.

The project to re-house and organise the documents is being supervised by Deputy Public Relations Officer of the M&CC Debra Lewis, who told Stabroek News that not only the records stored in the cleansing section were being transferred, but also those from the markets, public health centres, and city hall itself. They include, among other things, the minutes of council meetings dating back into the nineteenth century, as well as gazettes, newspapers and maps.

Acknowledging that much of the material is in brittle condition, Lewis said that in the case of some of the older records, they were entering the information contained in them onto computer.

The ultimate aim, she said, was to make the documents available for public use, which should be possible in about three months' time.
Documents stacked on the shelves of the new municipal archives located in the city council's Water Street Training Complex.

According to Lewis, the idea for the project originated with PRO for the M&CC Royston King. He outlined what he had in mind to Town Clerk Beulah Williams, who liked the idea, and in due course it was laid before the city council. The assent of the councillors to the proposal was given at a meeting last year.

King told Stabroek News that the cost of the project was being met from the budget, and at this stage no special funds had been solicited. The final cost, he noted, would be substantial, but the figure would not be known until the announcement of this year's municipal budget in April.

Included in that budget, it was hoped, would be the cost for air-conditioning the archival facility, which requires dehumidifying, and the maintenance of an even temperature. Both King and Lewis expressed the hope that concerned citizens and businesses would be disposed to contribute to the cause of rehabilitating the city's records.

Where staffing is concerned, Lewis told this newspaper that some time ago then Archivist (ag) Ivor Rodrigues of the National Archives had assisted in on-the-job training of three members of staff - although not in an official capacity.

She said he had given them guidance in sorting and basic custodianship of documents.