Five Hundred Year Archive project presented to UCT Library Sciences Students

17 Oct 2017 - 23:30
Katie Garrun (photo supplied by Katie)

Early this year, Richard Higgs of UCT Library Sciences and convenor of the MPhil Digital Curation, invited members of the Five Hundred Year Archive (FHYA) to present the project to his class. Post-doctoral research fellow at the Archive and Public Culture Research Initiative, Dr Grant McNulty, gave an overview of the FHYA, describing the conceptual underpinnings of the project and how these were being translated into a practical, digital project, namely the FHYA archival exemplar.

Following Grant’s overview, Chloe Rushovich and I, who both act as digital content assistants for the project, discussed issues relating to day-to-day content management and the processes that are followed to prepare digital content to be uploaded to the FHYA exemplar.

We were fortunate that Jo-Anne Duggan, Director of the Archival Platform, joined us. Her insights and experience in dealing with museums, archives and their policies in Southern Africa contributed greatly to the discussion.

Following our introduction, course convenor Richard Higgs chaired an interesting and open discussion with approximately 12 Masters students. He noted areas of the FHYA presentation that had relevance to modules taught in the course as many of the Digital Curation students currently work in libraries, museums and archives and also have much to contribute in the way of professional perspectives.

This presentation is the second time the FHYA has been asked to engage with the Library Sciences MPhil group. The project has both conceptual and practical aspects and offers students an holistic example of what a digital archival project entails. These include information architecture, hardware and software, standards of practice, digital media and metadata, which all speak directly to electives available in the MPhil course.

Having completed my initial year of coursework in the LISC MPhil in Digital Curation, I am now well into my minor dissertation and final year. This thesis examines the FHYA project and what it hopes to  achieve with its online archival exemplar. The focus of my research is to identify how various technological processes on the exemplar assist in disentangling historical materials from previous colonial classification structures.

From  my viewpoint as  an information specialist, the FHYA exemplar  is in the process of creating a knowledge-sharing product that will be of great use to researchers.