Original Research

Preparing collections for digitisation: The case of religious archives in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Francis Garaba
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 35, No 1 | a1319 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v35i1.1319 | © 2014 Francis Garaba | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 December 2013 | Published: 04 August 2014

About the author(s)

Francis Garaba, School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


This article seeks to suggest some of the steps that archival repositories with religious archives should adopt when preparing collections for digitisation. The proposed resource manual is based on a survey using questionnaires, observation and interviews that was conducted between 2011 and 2012 in archival repositories with religious archives in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa to ascertain their readiness for digitisation. The findings revealed that the lack of adequate housing facilities and the need to promote access were incentivising the need to pursue this expensive but noble venture. In other words, the two models of digitisation preferred by these archival repositories were on demand and user initiated, respectively. Despite the great enthusiasm by these surveyed institutions to leapfrog into the digital era, the study concluded, inter alia, that there was a need for the repositories to ensure that their analogue material was meticulously organised before embarking on digitisation. Other pertinent issues included the need for pragmatism, laying parameters in as far as the scope and purpose of what such a project would aim at, identifying resources (human, technical and financial), the benefits to be derived from the digitisation, time framing, transforming the organisational culture, copyright issues, metadata provision, collaborating and selection of content to be digitised. These recommendations come against a backdrop of the poor state of religious archives in the Pietermaritzburg Cluster of Theological Libraries (PCTL) and the need for these repositories to strategically position themselves for the inevitable digitisation, thus ensuring the survival of this record in the long term. It was Bailey who advocated that information professionals need to recognise that although technology moves quickly, with organisations slow to change, we need to work to expedite our responsiveness to change, whatever its pace.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: There is need for archival repositories to move with the times in search of relevance in this InfoTech world; hence, in some academic circles digitisation has been viewed as the microfilm of the new millennium. The proposed resource manual could therefore promote best practices in their digitisation efforts.


Religious archives, digitization, copyright, content selection, models, Pietermaritzburg Theological Cluster of Libraries


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