The National Archives of United Arab Emirates
Archives play a vital role in the life of individuals, organizations and, in a broader perspective, of the state. They secure the evidence of the history of the individual, organization and the state. They can therefore be used as reference for the future to describe the historic happenings. The archivist defines what is kept in the archives through extensive research.
The digital archives management and their importance to the community
The UAE National Archives was founded in 1968, having its location in Abu Dhabi. It was originally established to serve as a Research Bureau Centre to facilitate research. It then changed its name to be known as the National Centre for Documentation and Research and later – the National Archives. The archive was founded with the aim of collecting history related documents and information. It aims at compiling political, social history, culture of the country and the larger region in the Gulf. It is also said to be among the earliest archives established being the most resourceful with materials relating to the Gulf region. With the advancement of technology, the archive prides to have adopted latest technology in records management and security of the facility. Due to the value of the documents that are in the national archives, the level of security is extensive having adopted computerized security systems. The systems are monitored from the facility and other remote locations (The National Archives: The Oldest and Richest Archive relating to the Arabian Gulf region, n.d.).
The archivists interviewed explained that for a record to qualify as an archive, it must be subjected to extensive research to ascertain whether it has a permanent value to act as evidence of the past in the future. It must also possess vital information that will be required again for reference since it sets a precedent. The archivists stated that the users of these archives include, but are not limited to, scholars, researchers, lawyers, genealogists, writers, and journalists. These records undergo a series of steps before they can be ascertained as archives. The first step is the creation of records, which involves the development of reports; the second step is the use of records, where a filing and retrieval system is developed. The third is the disposition of records where the system for the selection of records with permanent value is developed, and lastly, it is the administration of the archives that involve the preservation of archives, knowing how they will be retrieved and how it will be accessed (Rhoads, 1983).
The interviewee explained that there are restrictions created to prevent the access to vital documents before a certain span of time has lapsed. This restricted information may be related to security issues of a country and, therefore, can only be revealed to the public after a given period. The information can also be connected with the authority of the relevant bodies in a country. Such information has restricted access due to chances that its use may lead to a breach in security of the state. Relevant measures, therefore, have to be taken to ensure full security of the information. The archivists stated that they have to verify the authorization of a person requiring access to such documents.
The archivist interviewed explained that the archive stores materials in different forms. It preserves important historic documents showing events that have taken place in the past, documents of world heritage, stores documents necessary for research, maps, manuscripts, photographs and books. It is also a custody for maps, blueprints and architectural designs of prominent buildings, audio record, written materials, films and computer records. These materials are stored in different forms that include paper prints, compact disks, films, recordable CDs, micro cards, and chips.
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The archivist explained that the information and materials in the archives are either from primary (original) sources or from secondary sources. He expounded that primary sources include the collection of first-hand materials and data through various methods, while secondary sources involve reviews of literature. The employee of the archives (archivists) is there to address any issue that may come up in the archive. These people are entrusted by the society to keep the items they regard as a value for the future in safe custody. They are involved in collecting materials such as artifacts, manuscripts, records, prints, films, then editing and arranging them. The archivists also stated that they collect materials that are deemed to be of value and access them from the various sources. They said that they analyze the materials and edit them. They then decide on the best appropriate method they will use to store it. Archivists help researchers in retrieving data from the archives. Since the archivists are aware of the location of certain files or documents, this makes it easier and faster for them to retrieve data. The staff in the archives is also involved in the research and development of the best methods that can be adopted for the proper management of records in the archives.
Therefore, it is clear that archives act as collection facilities where documents on historic events, materials and publications are put together and where the replacement of the data is done, thus ensuring the flow of information. Publishing issues on cultural and contemporary history is possible only because of the archives, since they provide evidence of such history. The facility provides translation services to allow the interpretation of any document from the archives into various languages of the user. Archives act as a source of important research data since they have numerous study results that can be put to good use. National Archives handle the organizing and hosting of domestic, regional and worldwide exhibitions and conferences. Through these exhibitions, the participants can understand the cultural heritage of the host country. They also facilitate the operations in the government archives since they provide information through training the government employees on handling records management. These employees undergo training in workshops and seminars (The National Archives: The Oldest and Richest Archive relating to the Arabian Gulf region, n.d.).