Last week I attended a pre-proposal workshop, hosted by Digital Innovations South Africa (DISA) and the South Africa Netherlands research Programme on Alternatives in Development (SANPAD). The purpose of the workshop was to develop a proposal for a three-year long project looking at digital archives and heritage in South Africa. Participants came from the Vrije Universiteit (VU) in Amsterdam, the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).  The first day consisted of presentations with the second day dedicated to formulating a research question.

The Participants

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DISA kicked off the year with a training programme that was attended by two interns from the National University of Lesotho. They are currently involved in setting up an institutional repository and came out to SA to acquire the hands-on training. It was an intensive two-week  programme. The DISA staff designed individual training modules for the various processes involved in setting up a digital library/archive. The interns were advised on the necessary hardware and software requirements. Extensive hands-on training was offered on file management, file naming conventions, the digitization process, the post processing of the scans, the creation of metadata for each document/item using Dublin Core as well Greenstone models, workflow processes, database management, quality control and digital rights management. Much of the first week of training focused on digitization and the interns were given the opportunity to digitize different types of media. In the second week, preservation and storage of digital objects was covered and finally the creation of a website from which to serve the digital archive. 

The two interns were instructed on how to write their own guidelines which they took home with them to guide their own process of training others at the University library. At the end of the two-week period the interns felt a little overwhelmed but also well informed on the processes involved and the ins and outs of setting up a digital repository.

Internships serve a vital function between training and implementation. Overall it was a valuable learning experience for the trainees as well as the host and based on the positive outcomes, DISA is planning to host more internships in the future.

For more information send an e-mail to


The theme of the Open Repositories 2010 Conference is “The Grand Integration Challenge”. A call for Papers, Posters


and Workshops has been made. An excerpt from their website indicates that ….

Repositories have been successfully established — within and across institutions — as a major source of digital information in a variety of environments such as research, education and cultural heritage. In a world of increasingly dispersed and modularized digital services and content, it remains a grand challenge for the future to cross the borders between diverse poles:

  • the web and the repository,
  • knowledge and technology,
  • wild and curated content,
  • linked and isolated data,
  • disciplinary and institutional systems,
  • scholars and service providers,
  • ad-hoc and long-term access,
  • ubiquitous and personalized environments,
  • the cloud and the desktop.

The Conference will be held in Madrid, Spain, 6-9 July 2010.

The latest issue of the Archival Platform Newsletter has been published. It contains news from around South Africa and wider afield on issues relating to Archives, Records, Museums and Heritage.

Harriet Deacon will remain acting Director until the new Director is in place, and she will continue to support the Platform’s work.  Good luck with your move to the UK , Harriet

Read the Newsletter here


Call for papers for the Regional International Musicology Society (IMS) Conference to be held in conjunction with the South African Society for Research in Music (SASRIM) at the University of Stellenbosch, Department of Music, Stellenbosch, South Africa 14-17 July 2010. The theme of the conference is Echoes of Empires: Music Empires after Hegemony. The deadline for submission of proposals is 15 January 2010. More details available here.