Minister Anroux Marais meets the people behind Western Cape Archives and Records
With this week’s focus on National Archives Week, the Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais, visited the Western Cape Archives and Records Service in Roeland Street this morning.
Minister Marais said that within the broader themes of our country and continent’s history and the road to democracy, the legal system and the access to human rights, record keeping is a very important part of governance. The Western Cape Archives and Records Services offer the public the opportunity to participate and learn about the importance of preserving our documented memory and its impact on our daily lives.
The archival records are stored in 50 stack rooms in the buildings in Roeland Street and Caledon Street. Strict security measures are in place to protect them from theft and other threats, including the records being protected by. Locked stack room doors and there being registers for all the archival records which can be accessed by the reading room, so records are tracked on a continuous basis.
CCTV cameras are also installed in the reading room of the archives repository to monitor staff and members of the public who are accessing archival records.
Users may only access archival material in the reading room, which means the stack rooms are closed to members of the public except for pre-arranged tours. Strict reading room rules and regulations are also in use to ensure proper usage of the archival records by researchers in the reading room.
The Department’s activities during National Archives week have included guided tours of historic buildings, presentations, exhibitions and outreaches in rural communities. There was also a free workshop provided to citizens on researching family history.
Minister Marais said the Western Cape Archives and Records Service count among the best in the country. She referred to a damning report on the state of the national archives, recently released after two years of research and analysis by the Archival Platform (a joint UCT/Nelson Mandela Foundation project).
However, the Western Cape Archives and Record Service was referred to as an “islands where good is being done” and the Roeland Street facility was one of them.
Policies are in place to protect the disappearance of valuable public records. “In addition, a digitization project is underway which, when completed, will reduce the day-to-day physical handling of original records because high-quality electronic images will be available on the website. “