Inside the Tuvalu National Library and Archives in Funafuti. (Photo: Tuvalu Ridge to Reef Project )


The Tuvalu Government has formalized the establishment of an e-library providing an online database of research and government documents.

The signing in April this year with Prosentient Systems, an e-library system hosting company based in Sydney, Australia, paved the way for the country’s National Library and Archives to implement the process of an online storage of information.

The planning of this online process   began in 2015 following discussions between the National Library and Archives and the Tuvalu Ridge to Reef (R2R) project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Department of Environment.

The following year, 2016, a more focused discussion took place on the set up of an e-library with possible funding from the Tuvalu R2R project. This linked in with one of the project outcomes related to knowledge management.

“The idea of the e-library system is basically trying to preserve everything and to get people connected especially those living overseas, Tuvalu scholars when they want to do research. We want to make it as a centralized system for all of Government to upload and download their reports. Right now the challenge we are facing is lack of space and storage so the only way we can do this, is to use a cloud (system) or something like that so that everyone can access from anywhere at any time,” explained Government Archivist Noa Petueli.

Tuvalu’s Chief Librarian & Archivist, Noa Petueli, sifts through a copy of the 1866 Vaitupu Birth Registry. (Photo: Tuvalu Ridge to Reef Project)
Inside the Tuvalu National Library & Archives in Funafuti. (Photo: Tuvalu Ridge to Reef Project)
Computers and book scanners provided by the Tuvalu R2R Project to assist with documenting records for the e-library. (Photo: Tuvalu Ridge to Reef Project)


The Tuvalu R2R project is tasked with improving data and information systems on biodiversity, forests land management, adaptation and best practice. The team will support and coordinate ongoing efforts to develop an electronic library where past and ongoing data, knowledge, and information, including reports are collected and hosted by the Government, including the Tuvalu National Library.

Lamese Saamu is the Environment Data Specialist with the project team and is working with the Government Archivist and his team to set up the e-library.

He said, “The overall contribution of the R2R Project to this initiative is a great achievement, as reports related to environment issues could be all stored in this centralized system which everyone could access at anytime from anywhere and this is one of the project outcomes that is to improve access to environment information.”

For those responsible for safeguarding Tuvalu’s historical records and information, the country’s vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters is one of the key motivating factors to set-up an online database.

“We can’t fight time. This is the only solution we have especially for us low lying islands like Tuvalu. So the only thing is to convert them to electronic copies. That’s what we do, we convert things to electronic copies and we maintain the original hard copies” said Noa Petueli.

Witnessing the signing of the MOU from the Tuvalu Government is CEO of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade, Tourism, Environment & Labour (MFATTEL) Mr Fakavae Taomia (Photo: Tuvalu Ridge to Reef Project)
(L-R) Mr. Fakave Taomia, CEO Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade, Tourism, Environment & Labour; Mr. Alex Brown, Knowledge Manager, Department of Family & Community Services; Mr. Edmund Balnaves, Prosentient Systems; Mr. Noa Petueli, Tuvalu Chief Librarian & Archivist; Mrs. Ivy Tumua, Project Manager, Tuvalu R2R; Mr. Tufoua Panapa, CEO Ministry of Education, Youth & Sport. (Photo: Tuvalu Ridge to Reef Project)
CEO of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, Mr. Tufoua Panapa (right) signed the MOU on behalf of the Tuvalu Government. Prosentient Systems was represented by Mr. Edmund Balnaves. (Photo: Tuvalu Ridge to Reef Project)

 

The Tuvalu R2R project has purchased computers and book scanners to help with the move to an online system.

“We financially supported the hosting of the system and also the capacity building of the Tuvalu National Library Archive’s staff training on the setup. The R2R project also setup the system and customize it so that the system looks like what the TNLA wanted to be,” Saamu said.

Moving forward, the team at the Tuvalu National Library and Archives is working on making the system as user friendly as possible.

“Our target is to get all the titles into the system so whenever you access in the system you need to have a library ID, you need to become a member of the library, you can access the system, we will allocate you a password. For the archives there is going to be restricted access. There’s a section of people that can access the archives and there are some type of archive materials that are going to be made public. You either download it or you going to ask permission and you come to the physical library to have access to it” said Noa Petueli.

The training of staff is also being planned with Prosentient Systems and planning ahead in terms of long-term funding to maintain the e-library for the people of Tuvalu.

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