Island Culture Archival Support
Mission Statement How You Can Help Supporter's Spotlight Where We Serve Riding the Trades ICAS Projects Holidays and Cultural Events ICAS in the News Archival Awareness Board of Directors ICAS Annual Reports PARBICA ICAS Publications South Seas Titles Letters of Appreciation Contact ICAS
IslandArchives.org
The Web

Training and Public Lecture Suva, Fiji, May 27-31, 2013

Island Culture Archival Support

During the week of May 27-31, 2013, I traveled to Suva, Fiji on the invitation of Javed Yusuf of the Multimedia Team at the University of South Pacific (USP) to give some training workshops to his staff on a variety of archival topics. The Multimedia Team has an archive of audio, video and photographic images dating back to the 1970s when the University first started. All of these are in analog format. These audio, video and photographs consist of mainly university activities and other Pacific cultural activities. The unit is planning to digitize these content and make them available as open education resources.

This was the first visit to Suva by Island Culture Archival Support (ICAS). There were quite a few topics that were discussed during the week- all with a Pacific Islands perspective. Despite the rainy days, the week was full of bright moments where I, the trainer, learned quite a bit from colleagues.

Downtown Suva.
Downtown Suva.

I spent Monday morning getting acclimated to my new surroundings at the Multimedia Unit in the Center for Flexible Learning building on the campus of USP. I met with the staff, and settled my work things in one of the unit's office. In the afternoon I held the first training session with the Multimedia staff on Planning Digital Projects that included topics such as: "Why Undertake a Digital Project," "Digitization Principles," "How to Plan for Digital Projects," How to Select Collections and Materials for a Digital Project," "Metedata," and the "Handling of Materials." We also touched on the topic of "Sustaining Projects." After this discussion, I gave the staff a practice run of my presentation, Preserving and Digitizing Photograph Collections.

Tuesday was a very busy day. In the morning I continued our training session with the Mulitmedia Unit staff with the topic of Preserving Audio-visual Material. This included topics such as: "Moving Film," "Sound Recordings," "Photographs," and "Magnetic Tapes." We concluded the session with a discussion on Disaster Management focusing on disaster recovery of Audio-visual material. We also talked about the Disaster Pack and what contents the pack should contain. ICAS donated a "Disaster Wheel" to keep onsite in the Multimedia Unit to help with the planning and recovery of their collections in the event of a disaster. Shortly after our discussion we all visited the Multimedia Archives, and looked over the different types of records that are housed in the small room. We spent a long time in this room, as the photograph collection truly fascinated everyone!

The Multimedia Archives.
The Multimedia Archives.

In the afternoon I met with a few of the staff from USP Library. They gave me an interesting update on their digitization projects that they are currently undertaking, or hope to start when the necessary clearance and funding is procured. Then, later in the evening I gave the presentation, Preserving and Digitizing Photograph Collections to the Fiji Library Association. It was held in a one of the meeting rooms of the library. About eighteen people attended the presentation, and afterwards, we had a good discussion regarding the safekeeping of photographs.

The presentation for the Fiji Library Association.
The presentation for the Fiji Library Association.

Wednesday morning I went back to the USP Library and engaged in a Round-Table discussion with appropriate staff. The topics we covered were: “Processing a Collection,” “Planning Digital Projects,” and “Disaster Management.” ICAS donated a Disaster Wheel to the Library as well. I then took a tour of the library with special visits to the Special Collections, as well as the Mircrofilm Digitization Room. I also visited the Oceania Sport Information Center that is a very unique, special collection of its own. Its mission is to collect, manage and disseminate information in the fields of sport and physical education for the Pacific region- a very rare collection, indeed.

After the Round-Table talk with the USP Library staff, Javed Yusuf and I paid a visit to the Fiji National Museum. Here, we met with William Copeland and Sela Rayawa who showed us the museum’s archives, as well as the photographic digitization project that they are currently working on. They then gave us a tour of the museum just before it closed!

Thursday I started out with a tour at the Fiji National Archives. Two staff members of the Multimedia Unit of USP accompanied me. Our tour guides were archive employees, Timoci Balenaivalu, Elenoa Pelailakeloa, and Librarian, Tulia Cokanawai. We started out in the new Archives Building that was built in 2006. It is a state-of-the-art building with lots of office and processing space, and even contains a Conservation Unit- a rarity in the Pacific Islands. They still own the old archives building. However, they are in the process of renovating and bringing it up to building code. When completed, it will give them additional space to house their vast and dynamic collections. Nevertheless, we did tour this building and saw that the second floor still houses the library and research room. The microfilm unit and administrative offices can be found on this floor as well. Upon my departure, I donated another Disaster Wheel to the archives.

In the early evening I gave my public lecture titled, Partnership in Paradise: The Importance of Collaboration for Handling Traditional Cultural Expression Material in the Pacific Islands, to a group of about thirty-five people. It was a PowerPoint presentation based on a paper that I wrote for the TCE Paper’s Memory of the World Program Conference in Vancouver, Canada, last September. Most of the participants at the public lecture came from the Fiji National Archives, USP Library and the USP Multimedia Unit. After a brief discussion, we were all treated to a delicious buffet.

The Public Lecture.
The Public Lecture.

On Friday I had an impromptu meeting with Elise Huffer, Human Development Program Adviser (Culture) for the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). She was disappointed that she missed the public lecture, but was glad we were able to meet. We had an interesting discussion on different cultural aspects regarding archives, especially on the topic of the handling of Traditional Cultural Expression material in the Pacific Islands. It was a nice first step on building a new relationship in the Pacific Islands, and hopefully, both organizations will be able to work together in the near future.

Overall, it was a very busy and satisfying week; it flew by. Nevertheless, I would be remiss if I did not take the time to give special thanks and appreciation to Javed Yusuf and his team in the USP Multimedia unit who looked after me all week. I would also like to acknowledge the staff at the USP Library and the Fiji Library Association for our stimulating discussions. Finally, I would like to thank those from the Fiji Library Museum and the Fiji National Archives for wonderful tours and showing me the inspiring work that is going on in their respective institutions for preserving their cultural heritage.

Suva Bay on a Rainy Day.
Suva Bay on a Rainy Day.