Ethical considerations for Zimbabwean archives and the digital challenge
AbstractThis article traces the history of record keeping in Zimbabwe and discusses the ethical considerations that go with the whole process. It tracks down the various archives within the country and abroad and evaluates their utility and accessibility to local and foreign researchers. Attention is given to efforts by the National Archives of Zimbabwe (NAZ) to put together rare documents in published form, but also to why such endeavors were more characteristic of the colonial period than today. If publication was then seen as the answer then what are the challenges of digitisation today? How many people in Zimbabwe will have access to online sources that could be `virtually repatriated' and what are the possible sources to fund and sustain such projects? The growth of personal archives and their custodianship also is explored. The author argues that the ethics debate should not be confined to archivists alone but extended to users of archives who have contributed to their deterioration. For Zimbabwe, digitisation is a welcome development, but it can only be sustained by a strong ethical responsibility by users where possible or by stricter reader requirements by the Archives where necessary.
(Innovation: 2002 24: 39-44)