n Innovation : journal of appropriate librarianship and information work in Southern Africa - The role of public archives in national development in selected countries in the East and Southern Africa Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives region

Volume 2014, Issue 48
  • ISSN : 1025-8892



National archives repositories have an important role to play in the economic, social and political development of a country. However, there is a consensus among archival scholars that this role is often obscure as national archives repositories do not make their presence felt to the public. As a result, people who could benefit from the services of archives repositories do not know that such institutions exist. This study utilised modernisation theory to investigate the role of archives in national development in selected countries within the East and Southern African Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives (ESARBICA) region. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected through analysis of national development plans (NDPs) of selected countries, questionnaires and interviews using a purposive sample from the LinkedIn database. The findings indicate that even though the majority of participants were aware of the existence of national archives repositories, they did not understand the role of archives in national development. Whereas record-keeping is mentioned in some of the NDPs, archives featured only in two of the analysed NDPs. The study concludes that there is a need to redefine the role of national archives in modern society and also include it as an objective in NDPs. It is recommended that a robust archival public programming in the form of dramas on television, radios and at schools should be introduced in the region. This in turn will help promote the archival profession and archives' public image, as well as the use of public archival holdings. A further study to investigate the extent to which archivists have mainstreamed archives as a tool for national development within the region is recommended.

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