Academic journal article African Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science

Preservation and Management of Audiovisual Archives in Botswana

Academic journal article African Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science

Preservation and Management of Audiovisual Archives in Botswana

Article excerpt


All over the world, nations are increasingly becoming aware of the role played by audiovisual materials. The value of audiovisual materials was perhaps clearly stated by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (2003) when it stated:

   In no circumstances should audiovisual
   materials be regarded as additional luxury
   materials but rather they should be considered
   as necessary components in a fully integrated
   library service.... In developing countries the
   provision of audiovisual materials and their
   associated equipment might be regarded as
   of greater importance than the printed word
   because the level of literacy is such that
   oral and visual communication is essential
   for the purposes of communication.

Despite the fact that audiovisual materials play a vital role in the preservation of cultural heritage, they are very often neglected. Matangira (2003), an archivist from the Zimbabwe National Archives, argues that most archival institutions in the Eastern and Southern African regions are "still struggling to develop their archival collections". She went further to state that "audiovisuals are much more complex and expensive to handle, preserve and provide access to in comparison to paper archives". As indicated above, this is particularly so in the case of developing countries where audiovisual materials have not received the same attention as paper based records. This paper looks at how audio-visual materials are currently managed in Botswana and suggests possible ways to address the challenges facing the collection and preservation of these materials in the country.

The major objective of archival and library services is to facilitate access to collections in their care so that the collections are accessible for education and research purposes. A second and also very important objective of such services is the preservation of materials in the collections so that they can be available to future generations . Strategies to attain these two objectives often conflict with one another as there is now way collections can be used without them being damaged accidentally or intentionally during use.

According to Harvey (1994) preservation includes "all managerial and financial considerations, including storage and accommodation provision, staffing levels, policies, techniques, and methods involved in preserving library and archive materials and the information contained them." He further define conservation as "those specific policies and practices involved in protecting library and archive materials from deterioration, damage and decay, including the methods and techniques devised by technical staff."

According to the National Preservation Office (2001) "libraries and archives contain an irreplaceable accumulation of human knowledge and experience. The written and documentary heritage which they house provides the raw material that allows us to try and understand, explain, order and enjoy the visible and invisible world. Access to the past enables us to understand and locate ourselves in the present and gives us the opportunity to inform the future... in preserving our shared past, we are preserving the collective memory for future generation." The importance of preserving library collections was summed up by Cloonan (2001) when he stated "preservation allows for the continuity of the past with the present and the future." Nevertheless, it would be a waste of resources if after institutions have devoted considerable sums of money in acquiring and processing the collections if these remain inaccessible to scholars and other bona fide users.

Although preservation challenges are known throughout the world, many experts in the field have gradually began to realise that there are specific problems faced by conservators in different parts of the world. Teygeler et al. (2001) have noted that the problems encountered by conservationists in many developing countries are "often more complex than those in developed countries. …

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