Local historian calls for further measures to prevent ‘souvenir hunters’ at Archives
Local historian Richard Garcia has called for a new home for the Gibraltar National Archives and further measures to tackle the issue of “ill-intentioned people” swiping records.
During an hour-long session of Literature Week, organised by Gibraltar Cultural Services, Mr Garcia told an audience that continued improvements are needed at the Archives.
Mr Garcia said the Archives still does not have a catalogue of what is in the collection, meaning researchers do not know whether documents needed are accessible.
“If you want to find something, you don’t know what you’re going to find because there’s not list you can consult which tells you what the Archives actually holds,” he said.
He added there is no log of what documents are being viewed and some unfortunately go missing.
There are more records scattered around government departments which should be in the Archives, Mr Garcia said.
He also stressed that “better accommodation” is needed for the Archives and the records are not valued to the degree he would like them to be.
“The accommodation is not appropriate,” he said.
“Also its not a satisfactory arrangement having original records which anybody could have access to and in the past I know that ill-intentioned people have gone into the Archives and stolen papers, and it is shocking that that should be allowed.”
“And it is allowed because of the way in which the Archives is established, because you should have a reading room in which there are no files, no papers and only when someone requests a book, papers, documents should they be brought out and the person doing research should at all times be invigilated, whether it is remotely through a CCTV camera.”
Mr Garcia said researchers being invigilated is customary in archives in other jurisdictions.
He added there has been the problem of “souvenir hunters” in the past, even before the Archives which has left gaps in Gibraltar’s record.
Mr Garcia commended the work of past archivists in their collection and organisation of the Archives, but he would like to see further measures to ensure Gibraltar’s records are kept safe.