Academic journal article African Research & Documentation

Editorial

Academic journal article African Research & Documentation

Editorial

Article excerpt

SCOLMA (the UK Libraries and Archives Group on Africa) celebrated its 50th birthday in June 2012 with an Anniversary Conference at the Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford. The two-day event looked analytically and critically at the impact of and response to the digital revolution on African Studies, drawing together over ninety librarians, archivists, academics and NGO stafffrom the UK, continental Europe, Africa and the United States.

Presentations at the conference ranged over many digital formats and techniques, including digitised archives, published material, photographs and maps, born-digital materials, digital scholarship, and social media. Access to, and the effects of, digital resources in Africa were considered, as was the impact of digitisation for scholars in African Studies generally.

Some important issues and challenges raised at the conference concerned 'digital gaps' and the mass of material that remains unavailable in digital form, and risks that digital resources will be overly privileged by researchers. There was also discussion of the importance of information literacy skills; the need for co-ordination and collaboration among digital projects; and the preservation and sustainability of digital resources. Concerns were raised about access to digital content, not only from within Africa, but also by nongovernmental organisations more widely, as well as about meeting the changing expectations of researchers while being constrained by the cost of digitisation, copyright restrictions and the lack of metadata. …

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