PROMOTING ACCESS TO AFRICAN RESEARCH

ESARBICA Journal: Journal of the Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives

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Promoting the Inter- Generational Equity Principle Through Archival Reference Services

Forget Chaterera

Abstract


Applied in the discipline of Archival Science, the Inter-Generational Equity (IGE) theory implies that both the present and future generations are entitled to use and benefit from the extant public documentary heritage. Using a pragmatic philosophical paradigm that permitted the use of both qualitative and quantitative research instruments, this study examined the archival reference services at the National Archives of Zimbabwe (NAZ) with the view of assessing how well archivists are meeting the needs of today’s researchers without compromising future users. Guided by IGE theory, this paper underscores the need for a rationally balanced equation where neither preservation nor access is given priority at the expense of the other. The gist of the paper is therefore on NAZ’s ability to provide information about its holdings and making it available to the current generation of users without compromising the ability of the future users to benefit from the same archival material. The study was driven by the need to eliminate the perceived privilege given to the preservation of archival material at the expense of access and use. In this regard, the IGE theory emerged appropriate as it is grounded in the formula that neither Preservation (P) nor Use (U) should be greater than the other (P < > U) as the two should always be equal (P = U).Applied in the discipline of Archival Science, the Inter-Generational Equity (IGE) theory implies that both the present and future generations are entitled to use and benefit from the extant public documentary heritage. Using a pragmatic philosophical paradigm that permitted the use of both qualitative and quantitative research instruments, this study examined the archival reference services at the National Archives of Zimbabwe (NAZ) with the view of assessing how well archivists are meeting the needs of today’s researchers without compromising future users. Guided by IGE theory, this paper underscores the need for a rationally balanced equation where neither preservation nor access is given priority at the expense of the other. The gist of the paper is therefore on NAZ’s ability to provide information about its holdings and making it available to the current generation of users without compromising the ability of the future users to benefit from the same archival material. The study was driven by the need to eliminate the perceived privilege given to the preservation of archival material at the expense of access and use. In this regard, the IGE theory emerged appropriate as it is grounded in the formula that neither Preservation (P) nor Use (U) should be greater than the other (P < > U) as the two should always be equal (P = U).



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