When national archivists and national librarians select and acquire materials, they should ensure that the materials are accessible over time. All their efforts may come to naught if the documentary materials were lost as result of being exposed to extreme environmental conditions. Environmental control and monitoring are keys to preventive preservation strategies in the management of collections in libraries and archives.
Libraries and archives may fail to provide access to their holdings over time if they do not take preventive measures to protect their holdings into the future. The current study investigated environmental management at national archival institutions and national libraries in eastern and southern Africa. The results revealed that little attention was being paid to environmental control and monitoring as a collection management strategy.
There is growing realizing that the use of chemicals in controlling pests is detrimental to the health and safety of the users of the buildings and documentary materials. Furthermore, the effectiveness of certain biocides, fungicides and insecticides used for controlling pests has been questioned. Consequently, many preservation professionals advocate the use of the, “least chemical approach”.
Using the survey methodology this study established that spraying and fumigation were the two major methods used in Southern Africa to exterminate pests. Although many archival institutions had a contract for periodic spraying, they were ignorant of the chemicals used in exterminating pests in their institutions. Most of the chemicals were a potential human health hazard. The problems of protecting documentary materials from pests were compounded by the unsatisfactory condition of some buildings that house archival materials. The study also revealed that archivists did not adequately monitor the chemical processes used to combat pests in their archives. In that light, archivists should develop best practices in the use of pesticides and rely on the integrated pest management methods.
Budget allocation for preservation of documentary materials in sub Saharan Africa will remain limited. However, the preservation challenge does entirely depend on allocating “enough” funding. When is funding “enough”? The way out of the quagmire partly lies in equipping information professionals with skills and knowledge in collection management that encompasses preservation education. Without the necessary skills ad knowledge, information professionals are not likely to effectively allocate resources for their collection management activities in a creative and innovative way. Allocating resources to the preservation of heritage collections without training staff in preservation management may be a futile exercise.
Information needs assessment is critical in developing and running relevant information services. This article explores the information needs and information-seeking patterns of the people living in communities surrounding telecentres. The research was based in four rural districts in Tanzania which have telecentres. These were Sengerema, Magu, Karagwe and Ngara districts. The research was done utilising the Critical Incident Technique (CIT) to determine how people or communities seek information concerning problem-solving, decision-making or question-answering situations. CIT was also used to determine the extent to which ICTs were used in seeking information. It was found that business and agricultural related information were the main information needs of the people in the communities involved in this study, however this information was rarely provided by the telecentres. The study further found out that face-to-face communication and the radio were the major sources of information that the respondents used. This study recommends that management of the telecentres should regularly assess user information needs in order for telecentres to have an impact on rural communities.
This article provides a systematic analysis of the challenges of managing agricultural indigenous knowledge (IK), and accessing external knowledge in the rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa, with a specific focus on Tanzania. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect primary data from 181 small-scale farmers in the six districts of Tanzania. The findings indicated that farmers faced various challenges in managing their IK, and accessing external knowledge, which ranged from personal and social barriers, to factors in the external environment such as infrastructure, policy, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), and weak linkages between research, extension services and farmers. Farmers also faced challenges when using information and communication technologies (ICTs) to manage their knowledge, such as personal, socio-cultural, infrastructural, technical, and economic factors. It is thus important for the government to improve access to extension services, review the IPR system, enhance rural electrification, telecommunications and roads infrastructure. Further, the knowledge providers (i.e. agricultural extension officers, researchers, educators, libraries, non governmental organisations, civil society, and other agricultural actors) should nurture a knowledge sharing culture. Farmers need to be assisted and trained to document their knowledge, map communities' IK bearers and innovators, use multiple formats (print and ICTs) with traditional communication channels (for instance, folklore and apprenticeships) specific to a local context to disseminate knowledge. Participatory approaches should be employed in knowledge production and dissemination in order to include farmers' needs and expressing knowledge in the resulting technologies, practices and new knowledge. In this way linkages between indigenous and external knowledge would be enhanced for improved farming activities in the local communities.