User Perceptions about Archives at the Lutheran Theological Institute Library, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
This paper reports on the findings of a study that was carried out in 2014 at the Lutheran Theological Institute (LTI) Library on user perceptions about archives in the library. Archival registration data in the form of user statics, library membership statistics, annual reports and a questionnaire were the primary sources of data. The study established that users were generally aware of what archives are, that the most consulted archival materials were church and diocese minutes and that amongst the recommended strategies to promote visibility for the archives were exhibitions, guided tours, an open day on archives and the establishment of a friends of the archives group. The key important recommendations of the study were that frequently consulted materials had to be prioritised for digitisation as it was prone to damage due to the continuous handling. Another key recommendation was the need to streamline curricula to incorporate induction on archival instruction to help raise awareness about archives thereby promoting their importance and use within the Lutheran community. Lastly, the input of stakeholders as part of the friends of the archives group will help to champion the cause for religious archives, especially for the Pietermaritzburg Cluster of Theological Libraries (PCTL).