Accessible Archives: Students as Active Users

  • K Harris
  • R van der Merwe
Keywords: Accessibility, Archival user, Institutional archives, Promoting archives, Tertiary students


At a time when archives, both locally and abroad, are feeling the
impact of a range of constraints it has become imperative to make the
viability – and usability – of their holdings a matter of prime concern.
It has indeed become imperative to not only overcome the persistent
image that relegates archivists to the unknown echelons of disused
spaces where they apparently dote on documents that no longer form
part of an institution’s core functioning, but also to take on the
challenges both within and outside of the archival environment. It will
be argued in this article, that by actively creating an awareness of the
archives within an institution, and inducing practical engagement with
its holdings, its existence is ratified and enhanced. Using the University
of Pretoria Archives (UPA) as a case study, various initiatives that
have been taken over the past decade will be discussed as possible
incentives to reposition archives within the broader infrastructure of
the domains within which they are situated. Although each environment
has its own unique features, it is believed that initiatives suitably
applied can enhance the archives’ particular situation. This article is
therefore a practical reflection on what can be achieved through
heightened awareness and use.

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eISSN: 0376-4753