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'3 to 5 percent of current archived documents destroyed' - Christopher Varlack

- says the century old documents were not destroyed during the hurricane
Christopher Varlack, Chief Records Management Officer, stated that his department lost roughly 'three to five percent' of archival materials while emphasising that what was saved needs to be secured before the next hurricane season which is just around the corner and is said to be very active as last year. Photo: Facebook
Valérie Martens-Monier, Regional Expert form Caribbean Branch of the International Council on Archives (CARBICA), sharing the same sentiments with Christopher Varlack, stated that the building that houses the archive records need urgent attention for the preservation of the documents, while suggesting that the territory needs a national repository and a national library. Photo: Facebook
Valérie Martens-Monier, Regional Expert form Caribbean Branch of the International Council on Archives (CARBICA), sharing the same sentiments with Christopher Varlack, stated that the building that houses the archive records need urgent attention for the preservation of the documents, while suggesting that the territory needs a national repository and a national library. Photo: Facebook
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - During a press conference with media houses on April 19, 2018, Christopher Varlack, Chief Records Management Officer, said his department lost roughly “three to five percent” of archival materials while emphasising that what was saved needs to be secured before the next hurricane season.

“In terms of the archive materials that we have responsibilities for in my department, we lost a few materials from our main office [Burhym Building] where we have current archives stored. I would say roughly about three to five percent of those materials,” explained Mr Varlack.

He continued, “There are many records that should become archives that won’t become archives because they were damaged significantly by the natural forces.”

He further stated that other departments suffered significant damages which resulted in them losing archived materials as well.

Archived materials dating back to 1700s were not destroyed

Meanwhile, Mr Varlack indicated that documents dating far back as the 1700s were luckily not damaged during the hurricane of last year but pointed out that the building needs to be repaired in order to ensure that these old documents are preserved.

“In terms of the older archives that date back to the late seventeen hundreds, we didn’t lose anything. Nevertheless, that does not in any way discount that we do have some structural issues with that building and we need to ensure that those records are kept safe because that is really the nucleus of the archival material that we have here,” while adding that those documents are the oldest and the most ancient records in the territory and they should be preserved by any means necessary.

Territory needs a national repository & national library – Regional expert

Valérie Martens-Monier, Regional Expert form Caribbean Branch of the International Council on Archives (CARBICA) who was also at the press conference, agreed that the building that houses the archive records needs urgent attention for the safety of the documents.

Ms Martens-Monier has been in the territory conducting surveys of damages to buildings, records collections, meeting with collection caretakers and to make recommendations about the on-going stabilisation of damaged collections.

Based on what she observed so far, she recommended that the territory needs to have a national repository and a national library, while adding that the territory will take some time to recover.

She said, “It will take quite a time to recover from that but hopefully I have been giving some tools and hopefully also some tools to prepare for whatever will come again. I have to still digest a little bit of what I’ve been seeing.”

In the territory’s proposed recovery plan, the government plans to invest $1.6 million for a national repository.

5 Responses to “'3 to 5 percent of current archived documents destroyed' - Christopher Varlack”

  • vex (25/04/2018, 12:21) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    Well we lost the sloop so what's next?
  • fish (25/04/2018, 16:39) Like (0) Dislike (2) Reply
    So what's new they should be happy all the files gone so they don't get locked up
  • Scanner (26/04/2018, 07:11) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    How about digital scanning whatever records are there? Not only for this department, but also the Building Authority should have PDF records of all plans submitted for approval so if/when there is damage to natural disaster, repairs can be undertaken without guesswork. Furthermore, if/when properties are bought/sold the prospective owner can assess what they are buying.
  • dog (26/04/2018, 12:32) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    why weren't documents in plastic or metal containers? and yes- scanning should be a priority. Once you lose history it is gone forever. that is why buildings are also considered historic material culture reminding us of the arch of history.
    And why aren't copies in UK? If you don't have documents, history is bound to repeat itself.


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