Management of agriculture archives in National Agricultural Research Institutes in Uganda
Archives are inimitable resources to institutions. They are carriers of critical and historical information of enduring value. To both developed and developing countries, when accessed and utilized, archives are fundamental in both short and long-term planning on national scale as reference points. Although archives provide a potential source of important information, their access in most agricultural research institutions in Uganda is problematic and yet their usefulness can only be realized when they have been accessed and utilized for the intended purpose. The study therefore assessed the state of agriculture archives in National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs) of National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) in Uganda, so as to design strategies for improved management. The study was informed by two theories: records life cycle and big bucket theory. The assumptions of the two theories and emerging prescriptions formed the basis for developing the study objectives. The specific objectives of the study were: to assess how agriculture archives in NARIs are documented; to establish how agriculture archives in NARIs are maintained, to identify the challenges in accessing agriculture archives in NARIs and; to propose a framework for appropriate management of agriculture archives in NARIs. The study adopted pragmatic philosophical paradigm, and design science research as the approach. Mixed methods were adopted. Quantitative data were collected using questionnaires while qualitative data involved use of interviews, document reviews and observation. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive means while narrative text, verbatim quotations and photographs were used in presentation and analysis of qualitative data. Major findings revealed that agriculture archives existed in NARIs according to their specialties and were largely in paper form including: institutional research papers, annual reports, monographs, institutional manuscripts and correspondences; and photographs among others. However, most of these were not classified, accessioned and catalogued leading to poor documentation. Also, most were unprocessed, not arranged and described, lacked finding aids and were poorly stored. Equally, all Institutes lacked formal access rules and regulations. Collectively, this limited access. The study identified challenges facing access to archives including: understaffing, use of substandard storage devices, lack of clear access rules and regulations, limited administrative support and lack of financial resources, among others. The framework proposed the following strategies for closing these gaps: training of records and archives staff, creation of a committee to oversee archives management in NARIs, adoption and full integration of ICT for digitization and virtual reality, creation of NARO archive at the Secretariat to serve as a depository for NARIs and building of institutional synergies for systematic collaboration on agriculture archives management and access. The study makes research contribution of framework that has potential to address all the existing management gaps. The study findings also provide insights to managers of public institutions and policy makers on what they ought to do in streamlining management of archives.