The staff of NATT’s Conservation and Reprographics Labs, and Reference and Outreach Unit as well as Tobago Archivist, Liselle Isaacs, benefited from a two-day training workshop on 4 and 5 April 2019 on Disaster Preparedness and Recovery as it relates to the National Archives’ collections and facility.
The workshop was facilitated by Ms. Valérie Martens-Monier, Conservator from the National Archives of Curacao, who was here to conduct a full evaluation of staff skills, equipment and procedures of the Conservation Unit, with a view to developing a comprehensive report on the gaps including recommendations for training and the upgrade of equipment and processes.
Workshop topics included risk assessment and integrated pest management with special emphasis on mould growth. Ms. Valérie Martens-Monier reiterated the need for proper and stable climate controls (low relative humidity and temperatures, ventilation, use of filters, etc), on a 24-hour basis, for the long-term preservation of archives, particularly in tropical climates. Mould growth in tropical climates remains one of the highest risk not only to the records but to staff’s health and safety.
Ms. Martens-Monier’s visit was arranged through the Caribbean Branch of the International Council on Archives (CARBICA). In 2017/2018 she conducted damage assessments of archives and libraries in Saint Maarten, Dominica and British Virgin Islands affected by the Category 5 Hurricanes, Irma and Maria. Following that experience, CARBICA conducted a regional conference on disaster recovery and heritage preservation in mid-2018.
The National Archives is committed to the safe and secure preservation of the nation’s records (public and private) under its care as well as staff’s occupational health and safety. Under the Development Programme, the institution plans to provide further training for staff and upgrade its Conservation Lab and facilities, in line with international archival standards. NATT’s Conservation Lab is one of two such labs in Trinidad and Tobago.