The Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Archives Cooperation between the Sri Lanka National Archives and the National Archives of the Netherlands was signed on 05.12.2023 at the Department of National Archives, Colombo. The Hon. Minister of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs Vidura Wickramanayake and Ambassador of International Cultural Cooperation of the Netherlands Ms. Dewi van de Weerd were attended the event.

On behalf of the National Archives of Sri Lanka, Dr. Nadeera Rupesinghe, Director General National Archives and Mr. J.A. (Arjan) Agema, Head of the Digitization Department of the National Archives of The Netherlands representing the Director General National Archives of The Netherlands, were signed the agreement.

The National Archives is responsible for the systematic management and preservation of records of evidential value in public authorities and private collections to protect national identity, accountability and memory. The oldest collection of archives deposited at the National Archives is Dutch archives created by the Dutch East India Company, which controlled the coastal areas of Sri Lanka (1638-1796).

These archives have been included in the Memory of the World Register. The Sri Lanka National Archives has 310 meters of Dutch archives containing approximately 7500 volumes. Between 2001 and 2013, the Sri Lanka National Archives and the National Archives of the Netherlands jointly undertook the microfilming of 200 meters of Dutch archives under four joint agreements. The negative copies of the microfilms were sent to the Netherlands, while the positive copies were preserved in the Sri Lanka National Archives.

The National Archives of the two countries have a long-standing friendship. Under the guidance of the Hon. Minister of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs Vidura Wickramanayake, and as an extension of this ongoing cooperation, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Archives Cooperation on 31.10.2023. The proposed MoU is to be implemented with funds received as a grant from the National Archives of The Netherlands for a period of five years from 2024 to 2028.

The microfilms sent to the Netherlands as per previous agreements have already been digitized by the National Archives of The Netherlands and can be transferred to the Sri Lanka National Archives in new digital formats. In addition, the archives that require further digitization will be preserved as digital copies at both the Sri Lanka National Archives and the National Archives of The Netherlands after digitization. Thus, the digital copies can be made available online, giving much wider access to the public. Almost 5 million scanned copies of the archives of the Dutch East India Company deposited in The Netherlands are available for free to anyone in the world through the website of the National Archives of The Netherlands.

It is the responsibility of archivists to allow for widespread access to archives to the public. Apart from digitization of Dutch archives, capacity development programmes on archives and records management, digitization and 18th century Dutch language etc. are to be implemented under this project. This project will enable public access to archives following international standards, reduce the use of archives in poor physical condition and ensure the safety of the archives.

Director General National Archives
Department of National Archives

Department of National Archives Sri Lanka

Department of
National Archives
Sri Lanka

Last Modified: 2024-05-29 09:58:09~ Server Time: 2024-07-15 01:01:32