LASRAB: THE LAGOS RECORD AND ARCHIVES HUB

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Aisha Animashaun

The Lagos State Records and Archives Bureau was conceived in 1995, but it formally came into existence pursuant to Law 22 of 2007 to regulate, preserve and disseminate accurate records of enduring value on Lagos State in a professional manner, employing best practices in information and knowledge management.

LASRAB House, the Bureau’s headquarters is at Magodo GRA, Phase 2. It is a special-purpose building consisting of archival facilities such as Repositories, Search/Reading Rooms, Reference Library, Gallery, Conservatory, Micrograph, Reprography, Mini-museum, Training Room, Audio-Visual Studio, Conference Room, amongst others.

LASRAB’s functions include regulating, controlling and management of records and archives of Institutions and Establishments operating within Lagos State. It is also saddled with the task of collecting and preserving the historical identities of Lagos State.

The Bureau also secures global innovative solutions and best practices for the continuing management or records/archives; enriching and using records and archives as valuable assets for preserving Lagos State heritage and provides a database for planning and research in Lagos State.

It has successfully undertaken research and disseminated knowledge on the preservation and management of public, private and historical records as well as established and implemented procedures for the transfer of public records of enduring value for preservation and management in the State. It has also provided the schedule for records management in the Lagos State Public Service.

To further increase the holdings and strengthen the Bureau’s power in managing the records and archives of the State, 2 (Two) essential circulars were initiated through the Office of the Head of Service titled: “Control, Management and Disposal of Government Records” and “Forwarding of Documents to the Lagos State Records and Archives Bureau (LASRAB)”.

 COURTESY VISITS

 One of the gaps identified by the Bureau’s leadership was the need to ensure that proper records management and preservation begins with the State’s Public Service. Hence, Advocacy/Sensitization Visit was introduced. Courtesy visits by some management staffs are frequently made to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) to aquint them of the existence and statutory functions of the Bureau as well as seek their collaboration in the efficient management of government records and archives in their custody.

In the course of such visits, the Bureau has undertaken survey of the registries of  some MDAs during which valuable records were acquired for preservation. Also, their  Registries were inspected and professional advise offered on how to ensure proper records management and easy records retrieval in line with international best practices.

Also, the celebration of Lagos State Creation Day on every 27th of May was introduced. The first edition witnessed a guided tour of 100 students from selected public secondary schools across the State to historical sites such as National Museum, Lagos City Hall, Tafawa Balewa and EKO Atlantic City.

The second edition was also organized for 100 students from selected public secondary schools during which a lecture on the theme: “Origin and Evolution of Lagos State” was delivered by Dr. Habeeb Sanni of the Department of History and International Studies, Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. Also, a 30 minutes documentary on Lagos History was shown.

INTERNATIONAL ARCHIVES DAY

The Bureau has consistently commemorated the International Archives Day, every 9th of June. It is a day declared by the International Council on Archives (ICA) in Vienna, Austria for the global community to appreciate and recognize the professional and noble contribution of archives and archivists to the progress of mankind and the right of the people to know.

Contemporary issues relating to the importance of records and archives are highlighted and erudite Scholars are invited as speakers. In the last three editions, topics such as “Copyright: Interpreting the Law for Archives and Allied Institutions” (2015), “Corruption and Security Challenges: The Place of Records and Archives Management” (2016, Human Right Activist, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN was the Guest Speaker) and “Records and Archives Management in Public Service: A Key to Good Governance and Quality Service Delivery (2018, Prince Olusegun Ogunlewe, former Head of Service, Lagos State was the Lead Speaker).

SURVEY AND ACCESSIONING PROGRAMME

The Bureau has also continued to embark on the continuation of surveys and accessioning programme, undertaken by the Archivists which include records inspection, surveys, accessioning, acquisitions and preservations of various State MDAs. In the course of this exercise, some records were identified for destruction while others with enduring value were retrieved to the Bureau.

This exercise is also extended to Local Government Areas (LGA) and Local Council Development Areas (LCDA) as well as traditional institutions. The Bureau conducted a survey of the records of Ibeju Lekki   Local Government Area. Also records survey was conducted at Apapa Local Government during which valuable records were obtained for preservation in the Bureau.

Furthermore, the Bureau has sustained the tradition of providing Exhibitions for the State as well as individuals and organizations. The Bureau mounted Photo Exhibition at the Eko Art Expo in honour of Late Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi at Eko Hotel & Suites and was actively involved in the Lagos @ 50 celebration with the provision of valuable information on different aspects of the State to various individuals and organisations.

PARTNERSHIP

While commissioning the Bureau, former Governor Babatunde Fashola charged the Ministry of Education to ensure that school pupils are taken to LASRAB on periodic excursions.

Today, public and private schools, from within and outside Lagos, visit the Bureau on excursion. The Bureau has gone further to partner with the Public Service Staff Development Centre (PSSDC) to ensure that newly appointed Civil Servants on Induction Course visit LASRAB House as part of their induction process.

Also an agreement was struck with the Department of History & Strategic Studies, University of Lagos (Unilag), Akoka, Lagos in 2015 for 300 Level students of the Department to visit the Bureau as part of their educational development.

Also, a programme tagged “Time Out with Living Legends” was initiated as a forum to interact with prominent personalities from the State to obtain first hand information and collect personal documents of historical value.

A working partnership has also been established with First Bank Nigeria Plc, which is a  private and ISO certified instituton in records and archives management. To fooster this relationship, Officers of the Bureau visited First Bank Archives to understudy its mode of operation.

 The Bureau also constantly receives delegates from across the country who come to understudy its operation and seek its assistance in settimg up their own Archives.

GLOBAL COMPLIANCE

The State Government has purchased Bruynzeel mechanical archives mobile shelves and customized Acid free boxes and archives files for the Bureau. This has put it in the league of world class Archives Institutions and further justifies the committment of the State government to proper records and archives mangement.

The Bureau has commenced the digitisation of its holdings to enhance preservation of records by reducing wear and tear on the originals, as well as provide access to those materials that can no longer be accessed in their original format. The ultimate aim is to ensure equitable access to government information by the public.

Digitization in LASRAB is an ongoing process, and the Bureau has in its custody adequate and relevant equipment to achieve this. It has successfully scanned about 32% of its holdings. It would have done more but for challenges bothering on the issue of copyright, quality of the documents some of which are either fragile or are low quality photocopies, authentication of the intellectual integrity of digitized archival material, funds to keep pace with constantly changing software and hardware , along with changing product development.

DOES IT REALLY WORTH IT?

In today’s world of fast information and economic uncertainty, many query why resources should be expended or records and archives when one can find information so readily on the Internet. Is an archive really worth the cost in manpower and continual diligence and upkeep?

The answer is that in-spite of being valuable; the Internet cannot take the place of real life experience. The importance of visiting a record and archives hub like LASRAB can be summed up in two concepts: heritage and stimulation. These two invaluable things are essential for the continued growth of any individual and the society.

So, make plan to visit LARAB today and the experience will linger for long in your memories

Animashaun is the Public Affairs Officer, LASRAB, Magodo, Lagos

 

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