The Dubai Archiving Center is one of the institutions that seeks to preserve various archives within the United Arabs Emirates (UAE) to serve researchers and those cherishing heritage across the world. Over the past years, many archiving centers have lost valuable archives due to negligence and lack of proper protection and security policies. Therefore, DAC seeks to develop effective policies and procedures that will enhance smooth operations through the acquisition of relevant materials, their safe storage, protection, and preservation for future generations. The primary purpose of establishing these policies and procedures is to meet the needs of the clients by offering quality service delivery and conducting smooth operations.
Dubai Archiving Center Policy
The institution will be guided by this policy document in its dealings with various stakeholders. In addition, all parties concerned will be informed about the organization’s policies to prevent cases of policy violation out of ignorance.
To be the leader in the archiving materials sphere in the United Arab Emirates as well as a cultural and heritage center that attracts both researchers and those cherishing heritage.
To collect diverse heritage, intellectual and cultural materials from various sources, preserve and provide them for different users at their convenient time.
The following core values will guide the organization's operations:
Customer orientation – the team strives to satisfy every need of the clients by offering a variety of materials at a one-stop location and granting access to the materials at customers' convenient time.
Teamwork and collaboration – the organization fosters an environment where employees work together and collaborate with agencies of the same kind to deliver value to customers.
Integrity – DAC embraces a sense of integrity through sincerity, honesty, fairness, and moral values when dealing with various stakeholders.
Innovation and Learning – the organization seeks to promote continuous service improvement and development by encouraging innovation, learning, and talent acquisition.
Goals and Objectives
Procuring materials through economically efficient methods by integrating the procurement function in dealing with a variety of materials.
Ensuring easy retrieval of essential research evidence and heritage materials.
Gathering and preserving human heritage.
Providing a physical and an online library comprising various cultures, knowledge, and sciences that promote organized research studies.
Cooperating with other research centers and cultural institutions within the UAE and globally to develop research activities and the unity of diverse cultures.
Facilitating outreach and education programs to increase people's awareness of historical development and appreciation of the UAE history.
Providing necessary spacious conditions for the storage, protection, handling, and preservation of materials.
The Dubai Archival Center seeks to collect and preserve archives of all sorts to meet the clients' various needs. Therefore, DAC will gather textual records, photographs, maps and plans, visual records, historical tapes, printed media, artifacts, architectural records, books and electronic data. In addition, DAC will collaborate with other archival centers to provide to clients whatever materials they need.
The Dubai Archival Center retains the autonomy to charge for usage, reproduction, and other research services rendered to various clients. Therefore, the schedule of fees will be provided for the public on a regular basis. The organization has the authority to revise the plans without any consultations as the need may arise. The marketing department will establish loyalty and discount programs for the customers to encourage frequent visits and attract more users.
All archival materials acquired by DAC will be the property of the organization and the municipality until the archivists deem such materials irrelevant and do not require their continuous preservation. In such a case, the material will be de-accessioned (AABC, 1994). For any material to be disposed or de-accessioned, the archives department and the Archives Board must approve intended de-accessioning. Other guidelines regarding material disposition and de-accession will be maintained in archival records for proper guidance and sound decision-making. Also, the DAC Archivist retains the right and autonomy to duplicate materials through photographic, mechanical, and electronic means. Material reproduction will be performed for research, security, and conservation.
Material Borrowing and Loaning
Collaboration with other cultural and research centers seeks to promote content borrowing and loaning initiatives. Despite the fact that DAC will only acquire materials on a permanent basis, the organization will be at liberty to borrow rare materials from other centers. Such arrangements will include short-term loaning to reproduce materials for research purposes and place them on display and exhibition (AABC, 1994). Material borrowing and loaning to and from other organizations will be done under the following conditions:
i. The DAC Archivist must provide written approval for the loaning or borrowing. Also, the loaning organization must give written approval of the agreement.
ii. The loan request must be accompanied by an approval letter from the archives departments and the Archives Board.
iii. The borrowing organization must outline handling and safety procedures for the material during the loan period. In connection with security and conservation of the material, the DAC Archivist retains the right to cancel the loan agreement and request the material's return by the borrower (AABC, 1994). Cancellation of loan agreements may occur if it is determined that the borrowing organization does not handle the material carefully, thus threatening its safety and conservation.
Archival Center Accessibility
All people will be granted authority to access and use materials under the custody of the Dubai Archival Center provided they are not a security threat to the organization and materials in their possession. When it is determined that a particular person physically abuses a certain material or uses it illegally, then he or she will be denied access and banned from using any archival records within the organization (AABC, 2016).
The policy document will be subject to annual reviews by the DAC administration when necessary, without clients' consultations.
Mohamed Abdullahi, Archivist
Dubai Archival Center
Community Involvement in Material Acquisition
Government agencies, non-governmental institutions, and the local community will play a critical role in providing archival materials to the organization. They will provide research and scholarly documents for archiving purposes. The government of the UAE and its relevant agencies will also supply public records for accountability and preservation, as the constitution requires their accessibility to citizens legally and ethically (PORV, 2016). Similarly, non-governmental institutions will provide materials and documents for the easy accessibility of the board of directors, shareholders, and other stakeholders, as the law ethically requires. The local communities will help to identify and collect unique archival materials within their surroundings and other environments.
To promote and grow its collection capabilities, the Dubai Archival Center will use supporting documents and relevant tools to enhance the process of materials' donation from various sources. For instance, DAC will employ hardcopy leaflets to introduce itself to various stakeholders and build networks that could lead to useful material gifts (AABC, 1994). With the advancements in technology, the organization will provide relevant information about its collection focus through the website to all potential donors. Therefore, information such as accession forms, copyright agreement, and deed of gift will be displayed on the website to promote material donation from potential donors (PORV, 2016). In addition, the Dubai Archival Center will employ techniques such as focused group meetings, public education programs, and other social events to raise awareness and encourage the community to actively participate in the archival material collection for their benefit and the development of human culture.
Bringing Materials into DAC Archives
The organization will acquire its content archives through the following four ways:
The Dubai Archival Center will develop an active approach to materials acquisition rather than rely on donors to bring them to the center. The organization will seek donations through social events, contacting government agencies, community organizations, attending meetings and business events. By linking with such groups, people will understand DAC’s interest in archives and the types of collections required (AABC, 1994). However, the organization will not accept any donation that goes against its acquisition policy. For every material donated, a deed of gift form will be filled in with the following details:
i. Material description
ii. Donor’s name
iii. Recipient Archives
iv. Any access restrictions
v. Acquisition date
vi. Statement of ownership transfer
vii. Signatures of the donor and Archivist
During the meetings with potential donors, DAC’s representative will explain to the donor the need for a permanent transfer of the material. Also, every donor will receive a copy of the deed of gift, with the original copy filed under accession records (AABC, 1994). The organization will then send a letter of appreciation to every donor once the transfer of ownership is completed.
Government bodies and non-governmental institutions will move their documents and other materials to DAC for proper storage and conservation. A transfer form will be filled out for every material acquired (PORV, 2016).
Purchasing materials will not be prioritized; however, the organization will still obtain some materials by buying them from individuals, private institutions, and at auctions. As purchasing materials could be expensive, the organization will only consider the materials that conform to the acquisition policy and those that would add value to its collections (AABC, 1994). Moreover, the organization will outsource appraisal services to ascertain the value of every material before the purchase is made. In its turn, the procurement department will oversee all purchase acquisitions.
The organization will resort to borrowing some rare materials from other archive centers. The loan will only serve short-term purposes such as research activities and duplications. Consequently, loan agreements will be signed by both the DAC Archivist and the lending organization. However, before any loaning agreement is signed, the agency will attempt to understand why individuals or institutions insist on this arrangement. The Dubai Archival Center will not accept indefinite loan agreements (AABC, 1994). Thus, every loan agreement must be approved by both the Archives Board and the Archives Department.
According to Public Record Office Victoria (2016), the material appraisal will be conducted before any acquisition is made to ensure the collection of valuable and relevant materials that conform to the acquisition policy. Every material will be appraised based on the checklist below:
i. Age – determine whether the age of the material adds or reduce its value. Also, timeworn materials may be delicate and expensive to maintain.
ii. Administrative value – check whether the material is of any value to the person or institution that created it. Valueless materials may be unnecessary to keep.
iii. Quantity – too many materials of similar nature may be hard to keep due to the large space they occupy. Thus, only critical aspects of the same document are to be considered.
iv. Uniqueness – consider how unique the material is and whether its copies exist in other places. Collecting unique materials would be of more value than gathering materials with many duplicates.
v. Physical condition – consider the physical status of the material to determine whether it is readable, visible, clear, and understandable. Keeping materials in poor conditions may cost many resources.
vi. Usability – consider potential users of the material and frequency of its usage. Therefore, keeping a large quantity of documents that can only be used once a year may take up much space and money.
vii. Acquisition policy – check if the materials conform to the acquisition policy. Only the materials meeting the acquisition policy will be collected.
viii. Nature of the material – consider the shape and durability of the archive. Shapes will determine storage space while durability will reveal the necessity of special storage conditions.
When the materials have been appraised and determined suitable for archiving in DAC, the Archivist will bring them under legal and physical control. The Archivist will mark every material with unique accession numbers before finding specific places for them. Depending on the nature of the materials, a variety of numbering systems may be used (AABC, 1994). For a group of accession, each item will be identified with a unique code that comprises the general code of the group of materials. For instance, when a box containing three documents is acquired in 2017, the accession will be marked with a unique number 017 while individual documents can be marked 017.1, 0.17.2 and 017.3. However, the numbering system would be subjected to change to establish the most efficient one for ease of retrieval. The organization will also use books to keep accession records to reduce the chances of misplacing material files. All the accession documents will be kept in the administrative office in filing cabinets with security locks (PORV, 2016). Only authorized staffs will be allowed to access the cabinet. The organization will also maintain backup copies of accession records for safety purposes in case of any disaster.
Conservation and Security of Materials
The main aim of preservation and safety is to protect all the materials from potential hazards. All the documents will be unfolded before storage and placed in acid-free containers. Therefore, the Dubai Archival Center will embrace the following procedures to ensure the safety of documents and other materials in the archives.
Controlling Environmental Conditions
All documents in the archives will be protected from hot weather and high humidity. Temperatures within the storage places will be monitored to ensure they do not go beyond 20 ̊ Celsius while humidity should not exceed 53 percent RH (AABC, 1994). Hot temperatures make documents fragile while high humidity could lead to chemical deterioration and the growth of mold on documents. To effectively monitor temperature and humidity, DAC will install thermometers and hygrometers in every room to record fluctuations in the conditions. According to Public Record Office Victoria (2016), the organization will also consult mechanical engineers to establish the most cost-effective humidifiers in the rooms to regulate weather changes. Similarly, exposure to excess lighting can promote the aging of archival materials. Therefore, the organization will cover the windows with heavy curtains to minimize the effect of sunlight. Furthermore, the institution will control the internal lighting effect by installing fluorescent lighting with inbuilt ultraviolet filters to reduce light intensity. Also, the displays of original documents will be minimized to preserve them; hence, in most cases, duplicates will be used as displays and exhibits. Finally, light sensitive materials will be stored in lightproof boxes to minimize the damage while the ones kept in open spaces will be regularly monitored to detect any damage and take appropriate measures to maintain their quality.
Protection against rodents and insects
Insects and rodents can cause disastrous damage to archives. Insects such as termites, moths, cockroaches, beetles may stain archives and even feed on them, thus interfering with the clarity and readability of documents. Similarly, rats may also access the archives and feed on them or cause some stains (PORV, 2016). Therefore, to prevent such effects, the following procedures will be followed:
- Checking incoming materials thoroughly before they are taken for storage to detect the presence of insects.
- Separating the infected materials from the safe ones until the former are cleaned.
- Avoid eating in research or storage areas to prevent rodents’ attraction.
- Cleaning new storage areas before the placement of materials.
- Using baits and traps to eliminate rodents.
Protection against fire and water
To avoid destruction from fire and water, DAC will implement the following procedures (AABC, 1994):
- Prohibit smoking in storage and research areas.
- Storing all materials above the basement level to prevent water damage.
- The local fire department will regularly inspect the archive center to determine any fire hazards and recommend necessary measures.
- Fire extinguishers and sprinklers will be installed in every storage and research area.
- Inflammable liquids, solvents, and chemicals will be stored separately from materials.
- In case the archives are damaged during the fire control, DAC will consult professional conservators regarding cleaning and repair.
Protection against acids
Acids could be the most dangerous hazard in the archive center. Therefore, the following procedures must be observed to protect the files from damage:
- Stainless steel and plastics will be used to hold documents together.
- Documents and other materials will be stored in acid-free boxes and containers.
- Metallic shelves will be used to stack materials.
Protection against people
Researchers and workers may damage materials by spilling liquids, foods, and due to their improper handling. Therefore, the following guidelines will be used (AABC, 1994):
- New staff and researchers will be given prior knowledge of how to handle the archives.
- Materials will be safely stored in files and boxes.
- Worn out or damaged materials will be replaced with copies or duplicates.
- There should be no inscriptions on archival materials.
- Cotton gloves and clean hands should be used to handle materials with minimum handling preferred.
- Adhesive tapes will not be used to handle any material.
- Ink should not be used on or around storage areas to avoid stains.
Security measures will be implemented to prevent and protect materials from physical damage, theft, and vandalism. Therefore, the following procedures will be observed (AABC, 1994):
- All researchers must provide personal details, signatures, and research interests.
- The reference area will be continuously supervised.
- Alarm systems, guards, and locks will be installed to prevent theft.
- Reference areas will be separated from storage areas, with no researcher allowed in the storage area.
- No material will be left in corridors, unlocked offices, reference areas and will be safely returned to specific storage areas
- Materials will not be allowed out of premises without permission.
- The number of materials researchers can use at a time will be restricted to three.
- All materials must be examined after use to detect any potential damage.
Access to Archives
To ensure the materials are readily available and can be easily accessed, DAC will allow accessibility from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for researchers to get sufficient time during the day. To enhance efficient service delivery, employees will work on shifts to ensure the center is operational throughout the day. Donors will be allowed to borrow specific materials they granted for a limited period to ensure other people also have access to them. With advancements in technology, DAC will embrace online access to archives to accommodate researchers who may not find time to visit the facility. Access to online database will be controlled; hence, every user will be required to register and give log in details. As a way of appreciating the community for its efforts towards the development and growth of the facility, DAC will organize special day programs that allow the members of the community to access the archives at subsidized prices (Public Record Office Victoria). In addition, schools and institutions of higher learning will be provided with special service programs that enhance learning at affordable rates.
The policies and procedures described above have been developed to ensure smooth operations at the archiving center. In this respect, the relationship between DAC and the community will be guided by the existing values and commitment to the service. All the acquisition procedures will ensure the storage and preservation of relevant materials for current and future use. Moreover, the accession procedures will guarantee proper recording and identification of all elements for ease of their retrieval and avoiding any confusion and loss of the materials within the premises. Similarly, safety and security measures will enhance the protection and preservation of all the materials in the archives and promote overall development of the Dubai Archiving Center. Therefore, to ensure efficient operations and service delivery, all of the above procedures and policies must be observed by workers, researchers, and other stakeholders.