UCT Staff removing the books and documents from the Jagger Library that was damaged by recent wild fires. Pictures: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA)
UCT Staff removing the books and documents from the Jagger Library that was damaged by recent wild fires. Pictures: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA)

#JaggerLibrarySalvage: Huge efforts to salvage UCT library material

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Apr 26, 2021

Share this article:

Cape Town - As part of the #JaggerLibrarySalvage project, UCT and volunteers across the city, including high school learners, spent the weekend trying to retrieve valuable academic resources from the library’s basement.

Camps Bay High School spokesperson Carol van der Spuy said three of their matric learners, Cathrine Madzatunya, Alev Guven and Rulida Louw, spent the first day of their school holiday volunteering at UCT’s Jagger Library, where they assisted with the salvage efforts in the wake of the devastating fire on April 18.

UCT’s historic Jagger Library was home to the African Studies collection, started in 1953, as well as portions of many other collections: journals, ephemera, manuscripts, film and video, maps and rare antiquarian books.

Van der Spuy said learners helped with retrieving archival collections from the basement and packaged them.

“There was a level of urgency involved, as the basement was ankle-deep in water and 4 500 crates of archival records needed to be retrieved and conserved,” she said.

Louw, 18, said she saw the state of the section of the library that had been badly burnt, “and it was all completely destroyed and devastating”.

Louw said the least she, as an outsider, could do was to lend a helping hand. “I carried up boxes that were in a safe room that needed to be transported outside, because some of the books had to be seen, because they got water on them.

“I also helped out by wrapping all the books that were wet in cling wrap and labelled them. All the people there were very nice, and I worked alongside my friends, which encouraged me to keep on going,” said Louw.

Librarian Bev Angus try to salvage what she can in the basement after it was flooded in the fire. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Alex D'Angelo try to salvage what he can in the basement after it was flooded in the fire. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Volunteers form human chains to carry documents, artifacts and books from the basement of the Jagger Library after most of the building was destroyed in a fire. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Volunteers form human chains to carry documents, artifacts and books from the basement of the Jagger Library after most of the building was destroyed in a fire. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

UCT Libraries executive director Ujala Satgoor said it was exactly a week since their lives had been changed by the fire that ripped through their campus, burning the library.

Satgoor said they were still salvaging a lot of material from the basement, to prevent water that was used to quell the flames in the Jagger Reading Room from damaging the material.

She said they put out a call for crates so that materials could be stacked in a responsible way according to preservation requirements.

She thanked everyone who responded.

UCT’s Director of Information Systems and the manager of the #JaggerLibrarySalvage project, Nikki Crowster, said they were inundated with calls to help, not only locally and nationally but also internationally.

Crowster said althought priceless and in some instances irreplaceable objects have been lost, they were delighted to see that some of the materials that they thought had been burnt were recovered from the basement.

UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said the libraries team anticipated residual damage because of the flooding of the building and possible seepage into various spaces and two basement stores.

UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng and chairman of the Ackerman Pick n Pay Foundation Suzanne Ackerman removing the books and documents in crates that was donated by Pick n pay to assist in removing the books and documents from the Jagger Library that was damaged by recent wild fires. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA)

South Africa - Cape Town - 23 April 2021 - UCT Staff removing the books and documents from the Jagger Library that was damaged by recent wild fires. Pictures: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA)

Cape Argus

Share this article: