The symposium gave us food for thought and a lively discussion help us to start formulating our focus points for the next 5 years.
The facilitator said that SAPCON need to look at its functions – what is our purpose – what are we going to do — have a specific focus OR have a broad function that will also touch on other organizations’ fields. The SAPCON members suggested that although SAPCON should function as an entity of its own, it could collaborate with other organizations such as SAMA and LIASA. SAPCON need to think how we are going to affiliate with other organizations.
SAPCON is a preservation and conservation unit, with a role to play in all domains where preservation and conservation is needed. SAPCON deals with the actual maintenance of objects, no clash between SAMA and SAPCON, but a necessary overlap.
SAMA recently had a workshop that dealt with all the items, paper, artefacts etc. Well organized workshop with formalized connection between two organizations. SAPCON members will also know about the workshops, affiliation can be arranged, work closely together and tap in resources and cash in on both organizations. Networking between the organizations need to be in place. Formalize the problem and then deal with it, to work together for a common course.
Organizations that have an interest in the field of preservation and conservation are: SARA, LIASA SAPCON, SAMA and the National Heritage sector. Funding to support these organizations is problematic.
Not enough was being done, we have to do more to help with expertise in this field. We need to look closely to the way forward and formalize it with specific policies in place. How to embrace the use of technology that is available for use in this field, i.e. digitization and electronic devices used for analytical use of documents. Need to investigate that and send the information out to members for their knowledge.
A national server is needed for the heritage section, combining resources, assessing the devide between different areas. Identifying what should be digitized and look at the preservation of the original physical material.
The need for training, issues of career paths and basic documentation on different fields of expertise was some of the issues that all agreed upon. The role of a conservator, what the job is all about, guidelines on that is needed. SAPCON need to create a database of members with their specific skilled areas.
Another group suggested that the types of qualifications available, short courses on preservation, road show and workshops, need to be marketed widely so that the target audience is much wider.
SAPCON should also think of establishing specific Interest groups, such as a group for Record Management, and have projects to raise an awareness towards preservation. Awareness towards preservation and conservation should start at school level. An exchange system between our students and those of other countries, to work in different archives may also bring much needed knowledge and expertise into our country.
Problems that need the attention of SAPCON members were:
- Definite shortages on skilled workers
- Lack of training
- Lack of communication
- A general policy
- Should we become part of other organizations i.e. SAMA
- Not enough people in SA – to do the work
A newsletter should be distibuted amongs the members. The three regional branches should be responsible for the newsletter for a specific period of a year. The other groups send their articles to the person who are responsible for the edition of the next period. The periods were identified as:
- January – April : (KZN)
- May – August : Western Cape
- September – November (December) : Gauteng North
AGM should describe the geographical boundaries of different regents. The total number of membership in boundaries need to be noted because the future of SAPCON depends on the members.
Goals for the way forward –
- To promote the libraries, archives, museums, to the general public and government
- Better recognition and awareness of the importance of preservation and conservation of our cultural and intellectual heritage
- Look at the collections on Africa all other the world. People in exile do have good stories to tell about their experiences in other countries
The National Library is a deposit library of the United Nations. The National Library hosted such material collected over years, but we also need to look for SA documentation in other countries.
Members should bear in mind that our heritage is the world’s heritage, trust should be there between countries to allow our institutions to borrow some of the collections abroad and bring it to SA for display. Our institutions can benefit from that.
The purpose of the symposium was not only to discuss the immediate way forward but to –
- create a plan for a 5 year period. Long-term goals can be established, but we should also have short periods build in for immediate development
- promote education, training …. TRAINING
- promote “best practices” and standardization in preservation
- encourage and facilitate participation in workshops and membership
- press for development of solutions and methods for long-term preservation and conservation
- promote the awareness of the issues of preservation. We can display our own organizations as functionalities and sources of knowledge
- write articles on our fields of expertise and publish
- establish an office for SAPCON
The work that was done in Timbuktu should be written down in the form of a manual. Opportunity to spread the word that we are able to do preservation in South Africa of major important collections. Alexio asked for help in compiling the manual. Although this is a short-term project, the National Archive will look for funding for such a project.
It was also mentioned that to get hold of conservation journals are expensive. SAPCON should find a way to make these journals accessible to the members. the National Library could be of help. Douwe said the NLSA will coordinate that and identify what articles will be of need and interest to the groups. In the mean time open access electronic articles should be forwarded to the listserve. The NLSA will compile a list on SAPCON’s website of articles as well as a member list.
Not all members have access to email and the active members should forward a hard copy to people in their group that do not have access to email. We need to remember that some of the notifications also need to be send out by slow mail.
A task team of legal deosit libraries need to draft a strategy for SA and should also cover the issues that have been discussed at this symposium.
Members should feel free to drop ALL their questions, no matter how simple the question is on a listserve, chat room or other electronic means. The answers should also be published in the hard copy of the newsletter for those members who do not have access to the internet. We need to look at an open discussion forum where every problem can be discussed and dealt with. The roll that you play nationally can be one of the drivers for future development in the preservation/conservation field.
Members should contribute to the website. Let’s get the website to work for us. The information can be forwarded to SAPCON North: Ria (email@example.com); KZN: Nellie; SAPCON West: Jeanine or Douwe at the National Library. Mailing lists should be forwarded to Ria and them a compilation of the list should be spread to the other members that is responsible for the web.
We need pictures for our website i.e. pictures of your work, of your archive, museum, library – any pictures that are related to preservation and conservation of which you are the rightful owner.
Encourage the institutions to inscribe to SAPCON membership. Is SAPCON known to all our provinces, what can be done to create more interest? How many of the managers of institutions know about SAPCON?
It is the delegates responsibility to inform their managers and highlight the advantages of being a SAPCON member, after the symposium. SAPCON members need to remember that information in institutions get lost because of lack of knowledge.
SAPCON should start compiling a list of all organizations (museums, libraries, archives) in South Africa and market ourselves to them. Interaction with other professional members and make them aware of the importance of preservation and conservation, make them aware of the determination to deal with the problem.
The draft documentation compiled by the facilitator will be circulated to committee members, who will forward it to the rest of the members. The final documentation should be forwarded to SAMA and LIASA and then implemented.