Tue, Mar 13, 2018 - Page 8

Academia Historica’s disrepair

The other day, when I was in the vicinity of Qingtan area in New Taipei Sindian District (新店), New Taipei City, I happened to pass the Academia Historica’s Xindian Branch.

It came to me that Academia Historica directly reports to the Presidential Office and is in charge of compiling and editing historical material, archive management, the preservation and filing of cultural relics of former presidents, and offering a reader service.

The Academia Historica functions like a library and, having worked in a library myself, I thought it would be a great idea to take this chance to have a look inside. However, to my surprise, I was stopped at the entrance by a guard, who told me visiting Academia Historica was not permitted, although I could get in if I wanted to look up information. And so I did go inside.

What I found inside was, to be honest, a bit of a shock. I could not understand how the Academia Historica, which directly reports to the Presidential Office, could be so old and ill-maintained.

Visitors from Taiwan and abroad, having seen the Academia Historica’s Xindian Branch, would surely be surprised to see how old its facilities are, especially in comparison to many local libraries in minor cities, which have new buildings and facilities.

Take a look at the computers used to access information at Academia Historica — they are at least 10 years out of date, much older than the computers used at local libraries.

Had the Academia Historica not recently acquired the building previously belonging to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications on Taipei’s Changsha Street and made it the Archives of Presidential and Vice-Presidential Records and Artifacts, and acquired the Taiwan Historica in Nantou as one of its branches, the situation would have been much more embarrassing.

The Academia Historica does not welcome people to go in and visit, and it is also keeps a tight rein on readers entering to look up information.

The US’ National Archives welcomes visitors and even organizes events inviting school children to pass the night at its library to have a closer experience of the founding documents and artifacts of the US.

If the Academia Historica is not ready be that open just yet, why not start with not rejecting people who would like to visit, and setting up a briefing room to introduce its function and responsibilities, so that people can gain an idea of what it is about.

The Academia Historica is near Yinhe Cave, which means it is on the way for people who go hiking and sightseeing. That presents a good opportunity for it to promote itself.

Wang Hsi-chang