Welcome to a bigger and better University Archives
December 27, 2012
Michelle Camille Correa
Often, the University Archives in Ateneans’ minds is an old, poorly lit cramped office full of bound records and yearbooks. But visit the University Archives today and you’ll see stark changes both in the look and the organization of the office.
There’s the bigger, brighter and airier research space, for starters. What used to be a small space with a few tables can now welcome more researchers in a comfortable and well-lit setting. Researchers from the community—students doing projects, Ateneo employees looking to retrieve old records, nostalgic alumni who would like to see their yearbooks and graduation programs, and outside organizations researching on Ateneo and its alumni—can now come to a more welcoming University Archives.
The storage area for yearbooks and other university records now have larger space, too, both in the main office at the ground floor and on the extension at the second floor of Faber Hall.
Putting systems in place
According to Carina Samaniego, director at the University Archives, the changes are not only in terms of physical space. Systems for keeping and accessing records are undergoing improvements as well.
Top priority at present is working together with other offices on the standardization of systems in terms of what materials are accepted and kept by the Archives and for how long.
“Right now, we’re in the process of identifying which records should be kept permanently because we want make sure that we collect records that will be used later on—publications of the university, correspondences coming from the Office of the President (memos and directives, university plans, photographs, architectural plans)—everything that will contribute to preserving the history of the university,” Samaniego said.
Another ongoing project is the inventory of records, which is linked with the standardization of systems.
“For me, inventory is very important because you can’t function without knowing what you have. Since Ateneo is an old institution, it needs to develop standards on how to manage the collection,” she stressed.
Making the Archives’ collection more accessible within and outside the campus comes next.
“We have to make the collection more accessible within and outside the campus. We want to preserve them, yes, and at the same time, to provide access,” she said.
Eventually, digitization and creating a database will take place.
What’s the importance of archiving?
Samaniego, who has been in the business of archiving for more than 10 years, first in the Manila Observatory and then at the University Archives, believes that archiving records and artifacts systematically in a central location leads to easier retrieval and access to history.
“Ateneo is an old institution, so the Archives will serve as the repository of all the historical and official records of the university. The Archives serves as the central storage and preservation to ensure that the community can access records in the years to come. Preservation and access are always connected,” she said.
With all the physical and organizational changes taking place in the University Archives, the tasks at hand are not just a UA endeavor but a community effort as well.
“I’m happy that people are receptive to the changes we are doing here in the Archives”, Samaniego said.