Cape Town fire: Some UCT special collections have been saved
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Cape Town - Volunteers and UCT staff have been able to retrieve water-damaged books and material from the basement of the Jagger Reading Room and are now working to save the material.
UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said they have lost hundreds of millions of rand in historical and academic material in a wildfire that ripped through the UCT campus this past week.
Phakeng said: “At the moment, we can say the Bleak and Lloyd Collection which is the Khoi & San Collection ... has been saved. But there are also maps and plans of the university and we are working through it so in a month we will be able to say this is what we are able to save.”
Work started in earnest this weekend and now an assessment of what historical and academic records can be salvaged will begin. “The library staff are here and we have been working this week to recover the material that has been saved in the basement of the library and today they started the process of drying the material because some of it is wet because of the water that went into the basement,” said Phakeng.
She added: “We have lost hundreds of millions, just in terms of the buildings and materials. We are waiting for the insurance and working with the assessors to see how much it will cost, only then we can say this is how much it will cost to rebuild. We also don’t know the structural integrity of the walls, whether these walls can be kept or not.”
UCT Libraries Special Collections comprises the African Studies Collection, Maps, Rare and Antiquarian books, Film and Video Collections, Newspapers, Journals and Magazines, Pamphlets and Ephemera, Manuscripts, and Photographs and Images. These collections are housed in the Jagger Reading Room and various other sites across UCT.
Archivist in Special Collections, Clive Kirkwood, confirmed that Independent Newspapers own archival material was not affected by the blaze. He said: “Independent Newspapers collection was moved some time ago and is kept off-site …. a small selection was digitised and is available currently to the photo editors.”