Bridge to the Future


Headed by the Government Archivist, the Department operates from three (3) Units – the Archives Unit, the Audiovisual Unit and the Government Records Centre, each playing a separate role to fulfill the Mission of the Department.

Archives Unit (Spanish Town)

This Unit is the main repository for the country's archival collections, which dates back to the 17th century.  The collections include records from local and central governments, statutory bodies, private collections as well as records from different religious organisations.  The Clinton Black Reading Room, where these collections are made available is opened to the public from Mondays to Thursdays, 9:00 to 4:30 p.m., and on Fridays from 9:00 to 3:30p.m.  It provides reference and research services to a wide clientele of researchers include academics from universities locally and abroad, genealogists, historians, authors, media personalities, community groups, students and the general public.  The collections which include maps, plans, photographs, manuscripts and publications provide a rich source of information for films, books and research papers.  Information on the Unit’s holdings is disseminated on an annual basis through outreach programmes in the form of tours, displays and exhibitions. 

The Unit also houses facilities for the preservation and conservation of its holdings.  This is undertaken by the Conservation Section which consists of the Bindery and the Reprographic areas.  This section ensures the protection and preservation of records that are in a state of disrepair for future use and posterity using different conservation methods and microphotography. 

Audiovisual Archives (Half Way Tree)

The Audiovisual Archives was established in June 1997 as the Government Archivist was designated custodian of the Video Library and Archives of the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC) when it was divested by the Government.  The Unit houses the audiovisual collection (video and audio tapes, vinyl records etc.) of the former JBC and is responsible for organising and preserving them for present and future generations.  It is also responsible for making them available for use in keeping with the GOJ/JBC/RJR Heads of Agreement with the RJR Communication Group and copyright regulations.

Although the collection is under the physical custody of the Department, the collection is the property of the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ), established in April 2006 under the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica Act.  The assets of the former JBC were vested in the PBCJ, which include the copyright in the Video Library and Archives. Access to the collection is therefore governed not only by the provisions of relevant legislation such as the Copyright Act (1993) and the Archives Act (1982), but also by the policies of the PBCJ.

Government Record Centre (Church Street, Kingston)

The Government Records Centre provides advice and assistance to government organisations in order to ensure the proper management of official records.  It also offers temporary storage for Government official records deemed inactive and non-archival.  The Unit is charged with providing training in records and information management to government entities, and assisting and advicing government ministries and departments in the management and preparation of their records throughout their lifecycle by:

  1. Developing and setting standards in Records Management, for example, the subject classification of records.
  2. Conducting workshops and training sessions.

The Unit also coordinates the network of Government Records and Information Managers (G-RIM).  The Unit was also instrumental in spearheading the implementation of the Access to Information Act.  During the implementation phase of the Act, the Records Management Analysts were actively involved in assisting ministries and departments with the preparation of their records and the correct records management procedures. They normally guide organisations in the disposition process – transfer of records to the Records Centre, assist in identifying archival records and conduct regular training sessions with staff of these organisations.