To sensitise about the importance of archiving and to conserve cultural heritage, the international archives day was observed in Thimphu, yesterday.

International archives day is observed on June 9. However, officials from National Library

and Archives of Bhutan (NLAB) said that the day had to be postponed.

Chief archivist at NLAB, Kunzang Delek, said that archiving conserves religious and cultural heritage. “Archives involve a lot of elements, such as the tangible property such as lhakhang, arts, crafts, zorig chusum, and intangible cultural property such as songs and dances.”

He said that it is also to support good governance as archives include valuable records and information.

The day was also celebrated to commemorate the national library’s 50th anniversary.

Home minister Dawa Gyaltshen launched an integrated library management system called Koha, yesterday.

Deputy chief librarian Sonam Yuden said Koha was operational from February this year. “Prior to using Koha system, we used Aleph system that was not compatible with Dzongkha fonts. The system was also not free like Koha.”

It was learnt that there are about 30 documents at the library’s exhibition that include gold written scripts, which date back to the 13th century.

Although archiving started in 2007, one of the oldest documents present at the archive is the decree of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel from 1645. Archives also include manuscripts, texts, microfilms, photographs, and digital texts.

Kunzang Delek said that the national library is in the process of conducting a nationwide survey.

As the archiving concept is fairly new in the country, Kunzang Delek said that there is no understanding of the record system. “People usually do not tend to realise the significance of documentation.”

Lack of budget and professional archivists are some of the main challenges the national library faces today.

Rinchen Zangmo