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Newspaper preservation at Botswana’s legal repositories

Mogogi Thabakgolo
Boemo N Jorosi


For centuries, newspapers have been a resource for both scholars and researchers. There is no form of publication that captures day-to-day life of a community and its citizens better than the local newspaper. As a primary source for local history and other information, all newspapers (e.g. metropolitan dailies, weeklies and ethnic press) are worthy of retention and preservation.

While great strides have been made in the science and practice of newspaper preservation since the 1830s, extant literature reveals that though the subject has generated a vast body of literature, it remains an undeveloped domain in sub-Saharan Africa, with few scholars demonstrating a keen interest on the subject. This has unfortunately limited our understanding of how records managers and archivists preserve newspapers in transitioning country contexts.  The study reported here investigated the preservation of newspapers in Botswana’s three national repositories: Botswana National Archives and Records Services, Botswana National Library Services and University of Botswana Library.

The Data was gathered via self-administered questionnaires. The key findings of the study were: (1) not all newspaper publishing companies were depositing copies of newspapers in accordance with the

Legal Deposit Act (2) all the 3 repositories were making efforts to preserve newspapers (3) binding emerged as the dominant mode of preservation, followed by microfilming and (4) environmental conditions in which newspapers were stored ranged from air-conditioned (controlled environment) to unregulated environments.

The study recommended that Botswana’s legal repositories needed to adopt new technological measures of preservation, particularly, digitization to keep up with the developments that are taking place in the preservation sciences. Furthermore, cooperation amongst the repositories was vital to overcome some of the challenges identified.

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print ISSN: 1012-2796