The members of staff at the National Archives were able to attend online a workshop organised by the Barbados National Archives on Friday 18 October. The theme was Current Preservation and Conservation Practices in Libraries and Archives. We were invited to be part of this by Barbadian conservator Ann Bancroft.
Ms. Bancroft has worked on our Special Magistrate Cleghorne Journals 1835-36 and has just completed the conservation work on our Original Register of Slaves 1817. She has also advised on the building brief for a new archives building to ensure that it is equipped to address issues relating to conservation.
Mark Cockram, talked about the types of paper and binding materials used to produce historical volumes and documents and of the tools and materials used in the conservation of paper, parchment and vellum.
Paul Antonio Attong spoke about the types of ink and the instruments used in writing and even demonstrated how a quill was made.
Ann Bancroft emphasized the need to manage the environment in which collections are kept, preparations for incidents that endanger the collection and the need for training. There was also a short tour of the reading room and the conservation laboratory at the Barbados Archives during which their staff spoke about experiences and concerns.
Participants expressed concern over the difficulties of resourcing archives. They were also very worried about a commonly held, misconception that after digitization the original records could be abandoned or even destroyed. Archivists are very much aware of the impact that the original record has on those who view it, and of the short life-expectancy of the digital image.
In Basseterre, staff were able to connect the presentations to observations they had made while working on collections in the St. Kitts-Nevis National Archives vaults. The Director of archives appreciated the opportunity that allowed all members of staff to participate in this informative online forum.