Archives Week 2024: Celebrating our rich history through cyber archives

By Fredrick Adika & Horace Okoth

Archives Week is celebrated globally to honor the rich history that significantly contributes to research and academic enrichment. This year's celebration, held from June 3-5 embraced the theme ‘#CyberArchives.’ The theme beckoned archival and records management professionals, organizations, and related sectors to engage in dialogue regarding the influence of technological advancements in their field. It highlighted how the archival sector is not only embracing digitization but also tackling the challenges and seizing the opportunities presented by AI, machine learning, blockchain, and other advanced technologies. The event showcased an array of captivating activities, such as guided tours, a scavenger hunt, digital storytelling, social media interactions, and the opening and acceptance of memory letters. These offerings provided participants with a chance to explore the past, each activity brimming with historical fragments, nostalgia, and personal journeys spanning the years.

One of the highlights of the week was the memory letters initiative. These letters, written by various library users five years ago, were sealed with the intention of being opened after half a decade. The opening ceremony was presided over by Professor Buyu, whose profound knowledge of the university's history and archives captivated the audience. He eloquently narrated the university's journey from its inception to the present day, offering rich insights into its evolution. This historical narration set the stage for the unveiling and reading of the memory letters by different students and staff members. The letters, filled with heartfelt reflections, touched on various topics, including personal reflections on love and family life, expressions of gratitude for the exceptional services provided by the library and the university, and appreciation for the academic support received from parents and guardians. The Archives section also issued an appeal to the audience, stating that they were continuing to accept additional memory letters. Anyone who wished to write one, to be opened after five years, was encouraged to do so.

Throughout the week, students eagerly participated in other activities that blended fun with learning. The scavenger hunts challenged participants to explore the archives and discover hidden historical gems, fostering a deeper connection with the university's heritage. Social media engagements and digital storytelling provided platforms for students to share their experiences and stories, creating a vibrant online community celebrating archival history. The winners of these activities were awarded, adding an element of excitement and competition to the celebrations.

The culmination of Archives Week was marked by a special ceremony led by the Interim Vice Chancellor, Dr. Lola E. Odubekun, who unveiled her portrait. This portrait will become a treasured part of the archives at USIU-Africa, symbolizing the ongoing legacy of leadership and excellence. The unveiling ceremony underscored the importance of preserving the university's history and celebrating the individuals who have shaped its journey. The closing ceremony, presided over by the University Librarian, Dr. Sylvia Ogola, highlighted the vital role of archives in preserving the university's legacy and inspiring future generations. Dr. Ogola emphasized the importance of both traditional archival practices and the incorporation of digital advancements to ensure the longevity and accessibility of historical records.

Archives Week 2024 was a memorable event that highlighted the importance of preserving our history while embracing the digital future. The theme underscored the evolving nature of archival work, integrating technology to enhance accessibility and engagement. Through cyber archives, we continue to safeguard the past, celebrate the present, and inspire the future. This year's celebrations not only honored our rich historical legacy but also demonstrated the potential of digital tools to revolutionize how we interact with and preserve our collective memory. Moreover, by leveraging the potential of data and embracing emerging technologies, archives enable societies to make informed decisions, promote transparency, and safeguard cultural heritage.

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