THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Endangered archives blog

News about the projects saving vulnerable material from around the world

19 October 2017

Rescuing Records on the Remotest Island in the World

We are thrilled to be sharing an update from Dawn Repetto, who is leading on the project to preserve the records relating to life on the island of Tristan da Cunha (EAP951). We would like to wish the team every success.

 
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The Government and Community of Tristan were very pleased to be awarded this Endangered Archives Project. With the island progressing in modern times it is very important that we capture our history and conserve, to the best of our ability, documents in a harsh climate which is often against us.

1280px-Tristan_da_Cunha _British_overseas_territory-20March2012 - resize View from the ocean of Tristan da Cunha CC-BY-SA-2.0 Photograph by Brian Gratwicke

Living on the Remotest Inhabited Island comes with many challenges. Elsewhere one can just pop down to the local ironmongers (hardware store) if they wanted to do some DIY or order online equipment and such, which takes a matter of a day or two.  However, here on Tristan everything has to be ordered via a supplier in Cape Town or the UK and then the items sit in the warehouses until a ship departs for Tristan (only 9 times a year).  There is another 7 days before the items reaches the island and a wait for calm weather so everything can be unloaded.  I do not even want to tell you the process if the wrong item is received as the procedure starts all over again!

800px-Edinburgh_of_the_Seven_Seas_01 - resizeView of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, Tristan da Cunha CC-BY-SA-2.0  Photograph by Michael Clarke 

Having said this, on Tristan we have a ‘can do’ attitude which takes lots of patience.  A project which may take 6 months for some places can take up to 2 years on Tristan, but we are not deterred and know we will get there in the end.

Insulation to keep the room warmThe shipment of insulation materials for keeping the archival room warm has arrived.

The island has 265 permanent inhabitants and we are all excited about starting this project and get a lot of reward knowing we will help preserve documents for generations to come.

One of my colleagues doing trial photographs The EAP951 practising with the newly arrived equipment.

Zooming out from the island really gives a sense of just how remote it is.

22 September 2017

2018 Call for Preliminary Applications for EAP grants

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The call for preliminary applications for the next round of EAP awards is now open. All the documentation is on our website here and the deadline is midnight on Friday 17th November.

If you are thinking of applying, or if you know of archives that are in danger and would fit the criteria for an award, do read carefully – and share the information with colleagues in your region. Explore the website for examples of the kind of material that has been digitised by the Programme in the past – and read the descriptions of the projects to get a flavour of the challenges faced by the teams carrying out the projects.

Watch out for another blog on the subject soon!

 

Ruth Hansford, EAP Grants Portfolio Manager

15 September 2017

Document to Digital: How does Digitisation Aid African Research?

This September, SCOLMA (UK Libraries and Archives Group on Africa) held its annual conference at the fabulous location of the National Library of Scotland. The theme for the day was ‘Document to Digital: How does Digitisation Aid African Research?’ This was a follow-up session to the 50th anniversary discussions, which focussed on ‘African studies in the Digital Age’ in 2012.

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There was an EAP presence with Jody Butterworth reflecting on some of the projects that have been funded in Africa. It was a wonderful way of showcasing the work that many of the EAP project holders have been carrying out (and who were unable to go to Edinburgh to present in person). Much of her talk included recent initiatives that are using the digitised material in innovative ways.

Jody was then followed by Tom Cunningham who talked in more detail about the pilot project that has focussed on the archive of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa based in Nairobi, Kenya (EAP847).

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From an EAP perspective, it was also wonderful to hear about other projects being carried out both within the UK and in Africa. The presentations will be published in a future edition of African Research and Documentation. There were many fruitful discussions during the day (particularly during the coffee breaks) many focussed on ideas for future applications to EAP - and we look forward to receiving them.