As we get into the second month of 2021, we are reflecting much on the last year, and remain cautiously optimistic (read a snapshot of our past year here). Last year, we spent a lot of time rehabilitating the physical libraries in Eastlands; both in Makadara (ongoing) and Kaloleni (complete). This year, we focus on their digital iterations!
While restoring the facade of the libraries is a key part of the work we are committed to, building a collection that represents the histories, stories and desires of Nairobi's residents is an equally important undertaking. This process started in 2019 when with the invaluable help of our indefatigable interns, we created the first-ever digital catalogue of all the material housed across the three branches of the library, totalling 137,705 items!
Following this cataloguing process, we worked on sorting through the collection to determine what needed to be replaced, preserved, updated or moved. In November 2020, the digitisation of the most endangered archival materials housed at McMillan Memorial Library began. A crucial segment of this preservation is the photographic collection, focused on the period between the late 1800s, to the early 1950s. The newspaper collection (approx. 13,350 issues in this phase) includes snapshots of key historical moments during Kenya’s struggle for Independence, such as the Mau Mau uprising, political assassinations, social and cultural developments and Human Rights movements. We aim to archive, digitise and provide public access to approx 24,000 materials in this first phase.
Please join us on this journey!
First up: Our Resident Queen of fact-checks (Ditto on the pod)...
This phase of the larger digitisation project is supported by the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fundwhich supports efforts to protect cultural heritage. In 2020, the Fund awarded funding to five global heritage projects, which will use technology, skills development and community engagement to respond to the risk of climate change to heritage in East Africa. Projects selected as part of the Cultural Protection Fund’s Disaster and Climate Change Mitigation round (including ours) will address the threat to valuable cultural heritage in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda by increasing capacity and resilience through risk planning, training programmes and digital innovation.
The Fund continues a partnership between the British Council and the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport partnership to protect threatened heritage in and around the Middle East and Africa.