The San Pablo Catholic University inaugurates the first and only documentary conservation laboratory in Arequipa and southern Peru


Efraín Zenteno, academic vice-rector of UCSP; José Villalba, director of the Arequipa Regional Archive; Tomas Salazar, director of the Department of Humanities of the UCSP, Ricardo Moreau, director of the General Archive of the Nation, Pamela Cabala, director of the Center for Peruvian Studies of the UCSP and coordinator of the Codicis project and Enrique Briceño, director of the Library of the UCSP, at the inauguration of the UCSP documentary conservation laboratory.

As part of the international Codicis project

The Saint Paul Catholic University (UCSP) has implemented, within the framework of the project codicis, the first and only documentary conservation laboratory in Arequipa and the south of the country. It is a valuable space for the preservation of documentary heritage, since different actions can be carried out there such as cleaning, disinsection and digitization of bibliographic material, among others.

This environment has a series of equipment such as a disinfestation chamber, which allows fungi and other bacteria to be eliminated from texts, a refrigerator, digitization equipment with high resolution cameras, brushes, test tubes, among other implements for cleaning and processing. of conservation materials, such as special boxes or envelopes.

The Mgtr. Enrique Briceño, head of the UCSP Library and head of the laboratory, indicated that along with the implementation of the laboratory, San Pablo personnel have been trained on the conservation of ancient texts. Thanks to this, they have already digitized old documents from the Municipal Museum, and now they are doing the same with the personal archive of the illustrious Arequipa native, María Nieves y Bustamante.

“Arequipa has a great documentary heritage that has to be recovered and preserved, and one of the best ways to do so is by digitizing it. But this work involves more actions such as review, cleaning, cataloging and management. We have learned and perfected all of this thanks to the Codicis project,” he indicated.

For her part, Mgtr. Pamela Cabala, director of the UCSP Peruvian Studies Center and coordinator of the Codicis project, indicated that the laboratory also has a photographic negative scanner. This will allow us to begin the digitization of the Glave photographic archive, which is guarded by San Pablo.

The Mgtr. Enrique Briceño stated that the laboratory will be available to all those interested in preserving the documentary heritage in Arequipa and the south. To use it, you must coordinate in advance with the San Pablo Library and the Peruvian Studies Center.

With this environment, the campaign to preserve ancient documents from Arequipa, which the UCSP is developing, will also be strengthened. Added to this was the Arequipa Regional Archive, which has already delivered historical documents to the UCSP on a temporary basis.

This activity had the participation of Mgtr. Ricardo Moreau Heredia, institutional head of the General Archive of the Nation, Mgtr. Juan Pablo De la Guerra, director of the National Archival School and Lic. José Domingo Villalba Quiroga, director of the Arequipa Regional Archive, among other authorities of San Pablo.

Archival meeting and visit

The inauguration of the laboratory took place within the framework of the I Archival Meeting of the Southern Macroregion, in which personnel who work in archives, libraries and/or are in charge of historical archives in Arequipa, Moquegua, Tacna, Puno and Cusco participated. The event, which took place on November 16 and 17 at the San Pablo Catholic University, discussed the institutional archive system and the declarations of the nation's cultural heritage.

The meeting was organized by San Pablo together with the General Archive of the Nation and the National School of Archival Studies. “This meeting is also part of Codicis, since the project involves generating links and work networks, as well as decentralizing knowledge and providing training opportunities outside of Lima,” said the Mgtr. Pamela Cabala.

Added to this event was a visit to the San Pablo Catholic University by a group of students and alumni of the National Archival School. They appreciated the different collections housed in the UCSP Library, such as that of former president José Luis Bustamante y Rivero, that of the scholar Sabine MacCormack, the Arequipa historian Eusebio Quiroz Paz Soldán, among others.

They were also given training on how to make conservation boxes for documents and books, and a talk on how to manage archival documents.


Since 2021, the San Pablo Catholic University has been coordinating this international project. Its objective is to value the documentary and bibliographic heritage of Peru, Mexico and Bolivia through training in recovery, conservation and authorization for research into heritage collections; as well as the equipment of specialized laboratories for this purpose.

This initiative, which ends in 2024, is financed by the program Erasmus+ of the European Union. It was chosen from more than a thousand international proposals, 104 of them from Latin America.

Along with San Pablo, the University of Piura participates in Peru. For Mexico, the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla and the Universidad Panamericana in Guadalajara. For Bolivia, the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés and the Universidad Católica Boliviana San Pablo in Tarija. The European peers are the University of Catania, Italy and the University of Barcelona, Spain. They are joined by the International Consulting and Mobility Agency (Incoma) of Seville, Spain.