Lae archive needs to be saved


THE preservation of significant national records for future use is something most tend to ignore.
This may seem trivial but something should be done to save Papua New Guinea’s historical records sitting inside the Lae archive building at Mangola Street dating back to 1974.
Year after year, those responsible for taking care of the records have called for a new custom-made building but those pleas have always fallen on deaf ears.
Surely there is some funds parked away somewhere that can be used to protect the records.
We have witnessed changes from manual to electronic procedures in various aspects of life, and the same should be for that office.
That building needs refurbishment, a cool room with proper lightings, computerised data storage, office equipment and proper fencing. The National Archives and Public Records Services was established in 1957 to ensure the efficient management of the records of the government of PNG throughout their lifecycle and the preservation of those public records of significant value for current and future use by the government and citizens of PNG and others.
It became part of the Office of Library and Archives Board (OLAB) in September 1993.
National Archives of Papua New Guinea is mandated by the Office of Libraries and Archives Act to be the official custodian of the government’s corporate memory.
There is one office in Port Moresby and a branch in Lae.
Put simply, it is responsible for the permanent preservation of the nation’s records which are of national and historical significance.
The biggest collection they have in custody is the government records – post-war and pre-independence records of PNG as well as the current day-to-day government records.
The Lae branch is meant to cater for Mamose and New Guinea Islands.
The Lae archive building has so much information in it. There are two repositories catering for 1080 cubic metres of government information files from 1954-1996.
Each repository contains records for tax census registers, kiap patrol reports, community, high, vocational and tertiary school reports, works and supply (ComWorks), labour and workers’ compensation, policy planning and research and records for finance inspection, Department of Primary Industries (DPI), forestry, local level government, justice (criminal and coroner), health, welfare and personnel management.
That is a national treasure and must be saved, no matter what the circumstance is.
These are evidence of historically events.
Most do not know the significance and value of information and record-keeping for future purposes.
Senior archivist Julian Maki said that to progress into future, one needs to know one’s history.
In terms of western knowledge and development, archives are where we will find the information to plan the future.
We owe a great debt to those who collected the information from scratch, and to the government of the time, who respected its importance, independence and crucial role in the scholarly and democratic life of the country.
Consistent funding and support for the work of State archives enable them to effectively manage and make archival records widely accessible, take advantage of evolving technologies, and foster innovative projects and research.
The rebuilding or refurbishment of the Lae archive building must happen.
We understand it will be a massive effort, especially when the country is struggling, but remember that there is no future without a past.

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