Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis on Friday announced that the state archives will move into a new, properly equipped building, marking a new “transparent” era for the government.
The announcement came during a press conference in honour of International Archives Week, which started Monday. It was established in 2007 by the UN to highlight the importance and usefulness of archives in society and celebrate the work done by archives around the world.
Yiolitis praised the work of the state archives, expressing her support for the staff who “under difficult circumstances, and out of pure love for preserving the memory of our country, have protected the most important archives of the past 140 years from the ravages of time”.
Access to archives is invaluable and a necessary element of democracy, she continued. “Public archives are not just government tools or sources of historical research. They also give the public the opportunity to have direct access to the historical and political data of their homeland,” she said.
As one of the justice ministry’s priorities for the next few years, the state archives will get a new building in Engomi housing offices, digitisation and conservation laboratories, a reading room and additional storage space.
This relocation, from a government building near the city centre, to a more secure and accessible setting “will mark a new era for our state archives,” Yiolitis said, “an era of transparency and extroversion aiming to serve the public, cultivate an archival consciousness and facilitate archiving”.
Works are also underway for the construction of a new building complex in Nicosia where all of the State Archives’ collections will be moved. The space will be built according to international archiving standards specifying ideal humidity and temperature levels, so that the integrity of the files is preserved.
Future plans also include the construction of a separate administrative building.
A relatively ‘young’ institution compared to those of other countries, the state archives have rescued, classified, preserved and offered for public access more than 16km of shelves in the past 43 years, stacked with files covering the whole spectrum of public life and the island’s colonial past, she added.
Deputy state archivist Christos Kyriakides said that most of the collections stored in the archives have been classified and coded, with their corresponding indexes now accessible both online and on site.
He added that the digitisation and microphotography of files has progressed significantly in recent years.
Kyriakides said that the state archives have recently started collecting material related to the coronavirus pandemic, and are on the lookout for diaries, notes and other information from members of the public.
Anyone wishing to submit their own can contact the state archives for more information.
Personal data will be protected, he assured, and the material will be stored in the archives as an important resource for future researchers, he said.