The University of Malaya Archives is the official repository for institutional publications of the University of Malaya (UM) and it is housed in the UM Library. The origin of the UM Archives can be traced as far back to November 1989 when a reunion and exhibition was held in Kuala Lumpur. Known as the Fortieth Anniversary of the Founding of University Education in Malaysia and Singapore or FAFUEMAS 1949, the reunion was held to commemorate the establishment of university education. The UM Library was entrusted by the organisers of FAFUEMAS 1949 to set up an exhibition documenting the history of the University’s founding in 1949 with the merger of the King Edward VII of Medicine and the Raffles College. The exhibition presented the history of both founding institutions from 1905 as well as the University from 1949 to 1989. The then Vice-Chancellor of the University, Dr Syed Hussein Alatas officiated the opening of the exhibition which was held from 11 November 1989 to 16 December 1989.
In preparing for the exhibition, the Library realised that they do not have enough materials on the history of the University. However, the Library was able to obtain various items from its alumni. Copies were made of items that were borrowed and at the close of the exhibition, the Library was able to gather a large amount of documentation, publications, photographs and audio visual materials. It was decided then that these items were to be kept in a special collection with the Library and this became the seed collection of the UM Archives.
The Library continued collecting items for the UM Archives and the Archives then remained as a collection within the Library. It was placed within Koleksi Penerbitan Rasmi or the Government Publications Collection. When the Library established its Perpustakaan Peringatan Za’ba or the Za’ba Memorial Library at its current location, Koleksi Penerbitan Rasmi moved bringing with it the University’s archival collection. At that point in time, the Library was actively collecting only the scholarly publications of the students (final year academic exercises, thesis and dissertations), conference papers belonging to any member of the UM community, official publications of the University, and photographs.
In 2008, the management of the UM Library made a conscious decision to revisit the UM Archives in line with the Library’s move to establish its IR. The availability of various open source software made it easier for the Library to create a Web presence in its effort to increase the visibility of the University’s scholarly publications. The Library realised that it made no effort to make it mandatory for all entities to send their publications to the Library and this was the first step it took. The Library then contacted all entities within the University to identify what they have published and requested for a copy, and if there are no additional copies available, a photocopy was made. The Library also started to draw a policy for its Archives and this was done by drawing examples from other university archives or university history museums.
In 2014, the Library assigned two librarians to take care of the Archives. Their immediate task was to draw up a policy for the Archives and collect, catalogue and organise all University publications, paraphernalia and artefacts. The Library however, is not acquiring primary records of the University in the form of official files from the various administrative arms of the University. These items are still kept at the various departments within the University. The Library will need to look into the acquisition of these materials since they are an important component of the University’s history.
Note: This is part of a paper which was presented at the International Conference on Library and Information Science 2015, 23-25 August 2015, Osaka.
Dr Nor Edzan Che Nasir
30 December 2015.