Preserving Archival Collections in the Cory Library for Historical Research: Challenges and Achievements
Every institution has a responsibility to safeguard the collections that are entrusted to it. That responsibility includes incorporating preservation and conservation awareness into all facets of the institution's activities so as to ensure the long-term preservation of its collections. However, many archival institutions around the world particularly in Africa face many challenges in their efforts to permanently preserve their archival collections. Poor infrastructure, lack of funding, staffing shortages, lack of skills, poor storage facilities, severely limited or non-existent environmental control, disaster contingency measures and lack of proper preservation policies within institutions have all had a negative impact on long-term survival of archival material. This paper aims to share the Cory Library for Historical Research's experiences in its effort to ensure long-term preservation of its archival collections. The Cory Library acquires and preserves records of historical value and provides its services to meet the research needs of Rhodes University staff, students and the community at large. Unlike museums where items can be kept for a long time without being handled, archival collections in the Cory Library are meant to be used. The high frequency of use of archival collections by students is one of the dilemmas that the Cory Library faces. Continuous use of archival material increases the rate of deterioration, thus this paper will look at efforts by the Cory Library in its attempt to address this dilemma and how information can still be made accessible, while still ensuring that it is also preserved for use by future generations. The paper examines the Cory Library's preservation strategies including its archival building which was designed according to international archival requirements and standards and also incorporated Stehkämper's greening principles.
Keywords: Cory Library for Historical Research, Preservation Strategies, Rhodes University
ESARBICA Vol. 27 2008: pp. 116-127