INFORMATION CENTRES – NATIONAL ARCHIEVE OF MALAYSIA
Archives usually refer to a collection of public, private and historical records that are preserved because of their historical, cultural or legal significance. It also stands for the exclusive place where all these records are kept. Archives consist of records that are gathered over the course of a person, community or organization’s lifetime. For example, the archives of a person may include letters, photographs, films, financial records, newspaper clippings, diaries or any documentary materials created or collected by the individual or family. Alternatively, the archives of an organization, be it a corporation, association or government, are more inclined to hold a range of records like administrative files, business records, memos, official correspondence, minutes of meetings, financial documents, blue prints, architectural or technical drawings, corporate video.
As a general rule, archives of any individual or organization are made up of records that are exclusively chosen for permanent or long term preservation, because of their importance and enduring research value. Normally archival records especially those belonging to an organization are not publicly circulated and most likely to be unique. These are different regular books or magazines where several identical copies are available. Therefore, archives is different from a library especially its function and organization, even archival collection can find within many libraries. Archives are extremely important. It is not just due to their function as reliable legal evidence, but also because they preserve our nation’s experiences, spirit, inspirations and vision for our generation and us.
A custodian of archives or person who works in archives is called an archivist. Archivist is trained experts responsible for managing public or private archival materials conforming to archival principles as well as their institution’s policies and principles. Generally, archivists identify records for retention and disposal as well as the accession of records that have archival value. They also arrange, describe, preserve, promote and making available the records and information held in their archives. Sometimes, archivists can serve as record managers too. They can assist creators of records in achieving efficiency and economy in the creation maintenance, use and disposition of records. This can significantly help to reduce the quantity and enhance the quality of the archival records. To quote Dato’ Zakiah Hanum, ex-Director General of National Archives of Malaysia, an archivist is perhaps best portrayed as an expert equipped with a flash-light peering into the dark and mysterious depths of the past in a quest for a brighter future. An archivist serves at the heart of living society whose destiny is based on a dynamic vision. Hence, his fundamental role is to connect the past, present and future in a living human context. Therefore, his task is not confined by the physical space of his institution but requires active visits into the community, subsequently becoming involved with the forces of change and community development. Archivists are also revivers of presumed dead records. It is their responsibility to resuscitate and add value to past or forgotten records via exhibitions, forums, dialogues or even the mass media. Granting access to these old records especially for research purposes will also breathe new life into them.
Users of archives vary from students to lawyers to genealogists to reporters. In Malaysia, there are 4 major types of archives. There are academic, corporate, government, and private and research process at each archives depends uniquely upon the organization or institution. Academic archives exist in colleges, universities and other educational facilities....