While South Africa lost an invaluable part of the collection of the law library at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Howard College, this month, another one is steadily growing.
The South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) has been building a digital and physical library to assist both staff and the public’s research efforts on arts, culture, heritage and economics.
SACO’s primary objective is to advance applied research in the field of cultural information systems and to support existing or developing information networks by enhancing collaborative research projects between multidisciplinary teams.
The SACO Knowledge Manager, Tazleen Jooste, says this developing library is central to the work the SACO does. “The library is critical because it will be the ‘home’ for all of the research produced by our staff and will, in future, be an accessible interactive database of knowledge and information for our target groups.
“A sound repository of information will generate trust and social capital so that there is confidence in cultural indicators and acceptance of public statistics.”
The library is growing at a pleasing rate, says Jooste.
Both hard and soft copies of local and international texts have been acquired, and are readily available for use within the SACO headquarters in Port Elizabeth and online through the SACO website.
The expanding collection includes: books, dissertations and theses, government publications, loose leaf publications, microforms and microfiches, music scores, non-print material, out of print material, pamphlets and serials.
These resources have been sourced through generous donations, staff purchases, special requests and corporate acquisitions.
Jooste believes that when it comes to the library’s projected growth, the possibilities are limitless. “We would like to grow quite significantly, so putting a restriction on this wouldn’t be just,” she says. “Our aim for this library is to have an abundance of resources available to practitioners and academics. Whether you want to know about the economic growth of the Arts, Culture and Heritage (ACH) sector or just the ratio of painters to sculptors is in South Africa, we want to have the source of this information readily on-hand.”
The SACO library is in no way trying to replace existing repositories of archival material. Rather, it aims to supplement such archives.
Recently appointed librarian, Marlene Scharf, says a burgeoning library is good for everyone operating in the sector, and also supports SACO’s strategic and facilitative role in raising public awareness of the importance of historical and archival records and collections on cultural activity and the cultural economy.
While, the SACO library’s resources are available to both staff and the public at large, it is a reference library and usage is restricted to the NMMU Missionvale campus and the SACO’s Donkin Street Offices for now. Researchers are welcome to use the books within the SACO’s resource centre but they must be returned before leaving.
Plans are underway to digitize the library for wider access.
The public are invited to browse available sources here: http://www.sacolibrary.co.za/ActiveConnect/default.html
Alternatively, texts can be accessed via the documents library, which houses full documents for download. View the library here: http://www.southafricanculturalobservatory.co.za/document-library
Source: Port Elizabeth – MyPR.
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