National Archives continues to function despite ‘deplorable conditions’

The deplorable condition of the National Archives of Antigua & Barbuda. Little has changed since the start of repairs over a year ago (OBSERVER media photos)

Officials at the National Archives of Antigua and Barbuda say they are still providing essential services to international researchers and locals despite the deteriorating condition of the building which existed a year after the repair work started.

The national archives closed its doors on May 3, 2016 for extensive repairs. It was expected to reopen by May 31.

Joseph Prosper, director of the National Archives said several people have continued to express interest in visiting the archives for the purpose of conducting research.

The last visitor to the island was Rod Vousden, assistant to the Keeper of the Royal Philatelic Collection, who is expected to depart Antigua this afternoon.

“We are still accommodating overseas researchers because some of them have indicated that they have taken a sabbatical, booked their flights and they are coming. Who we cannot accommodate through the National Archives, we have a good relationship with the National Public Library – they provide a space for us depending on the number of researchers and the number of documents,” Prosper said.

Prosper said that in order  to accommodate the international visitors, the staff at the archives would have to transfer the documents to the public library and back.

“We have to provide the opportunity for them because what they want is here at the archives. We also have records and archival materials that locals need to facilitate the process of them getting a passport, doing a burial and birth and death records which are not stored at the Civil Registry,” the director said.

In 2015, the government pledged $200,000 to restore the aesthetics and critical functions of the building, which is specifically to preserve national and historical documents.

Later that same year, a new roof was constructed over the building after leaks from the old roof posed a threat to several records.

(More in today’s Daily Observer)