The National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) on Monday started a weeklong training on archives preservation and digitizing at the NCAC archives office on Kairaba Avenue.
The training brought together staff of the NCAC and other institutions dealing with achieves in the country.
Delivering his opening statement on behalf of the Minister of Tourism and Culture, Momodou Joof, permanent secretary Ministry of Tourism and Culture, said their partners worked closely with the NCAC to design and submit detailed project proposals to the British Library Endangered Archives Programme, and the Centre for Swedish Folk Music and Jazz Music research which has resulted to the training.
After a prolonged period of assessments and clarifications, the project proposals were accepted and funded.
He thanked the British Library for funding the training of NCAC staff and personnel from institutions in the country managing archives, purchase of computer equipment, studio and field research tools and kits such as tape recorders, editing suites and storage racks.
The British Library intervention is aimed at digitizing the most vulnerable parts of the collection, whilst the Swedish funds will be used to continue the digitizing to ensure that the entire collection is digitized in the next two years.
The Swedish funds has also been used to re-master and produce a CD of classical Gambian traditional tunes dug out from the NCAC archives and Radio Gambia sound archives.
Permanent Secretary Joof added that the Ministry is very much pleased with this dynamic progress registered by the NCAC.
According to him, the state of the archives in the country has always worried him in person and has on numerous occasions expressed concern to the NCAC management that urgent remedial actions must be taken to improve the situation as regards working environment, conservation and storage of the priceless materials.
He thanked the NCAC staff for their proactive response and enjoins them to further push forward to ensure the NCAC archives remain well protected, accessible and relevant to the development of The Gambia.
Baba Ceesay, director general of the NCAC, said that for the last two years the NCAC has been collaborating with Dr Toby Green of Kings College, London, to access a grant from the British Library Endangered Archives Programme to digitalize the collection in the interest of its preservation.
In February 2013 the project was awarded a grant for use in inter-alia purchasing necessary equipment and running a training workshop to facilitate the digitalization of the most vulnerable parts of the ROD collection.
Around the same time, the Centre for Folk Music and Jazz Research, a part of the government body Music Development and Heritage in Sweden, and Folk Music House, a regional traditional music centre and archive, obtained a grant from the Swedish Government to complement the efforts of the British Library Endangered Archives Programme.