Positive progress in the Jagger Library Salvage Project

09 June 2021 | Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng

Dear colleagues and students

It is now almost two months since we lost the Jagger Library in the fire that struck the University of Cape Town (UCT) upper campus on 18 April. I’m happy to report positive progress in the hard work that so many people have put into recovering the archives from the Jagger basements, led by the skilful UCT Libraries team. The first steps of this process have been documented in a series of striking photographs taken by colleagues in the Communication and Marketing Department (CMD).

On behalf of UCT and the UCT Libraries colleagues, I thank everyone who played a role in this arduous process. We would not have made it this far without the help of individuals and organisations who provided what we needed to begin the salvage and conservation work, including materials, specialised equipment, financial donations and muscle power. I give special thanks to our colleagues who work in UCT Libraries and whose life work has been affected by this tragedy.

Here are a few statistics to give you a glimpse into the scope of the salvage project:

  • 10 000: the number of items that are in cold storage as part of the rehabilitation process for water-damaged materials
  • 12 900: the number of crates that were filled with materials to minimise handling during their removal from the basements
  • 2 000: the number of hard-working volunteers who helped us throughout the salvage project. These volunteers worked five-hour shifts, from 08:00 to 18:00 between 21 April and 10 May
  • 17: the number of days it took to remove the materials from the Jagger Library basements
  • 8: the number of locations where materials have been stored after triage (during which time experts separated wet and dry materials and determined the appropriate intervention for impacted materials)
  • 0: we are pleased to report that due to strict protocols and induction in place, no person tested positive for COVID-19.

Details of the restoration work, including the South African and international experts who travelled to UCT or advised us from afar on the preservation processes, are provided in my VC Desk of 7 May: “Update on restoring UCT Property”.

The Special Collections team are moving into interim premises in Mowbray, where they will reconstitute as a library and continue the restoration work.

It is important to note that during this salvage process, UCT Libraries colleagues continued their other services without fail. This includes all transactional services by request; research support for masters and PhD students in collaboration with leading national and international universities and the National Library of South Africa; and keeping all branches of the Libraries available as study spaces and the Virtual Library Services.

Please join me in wishing the members of the UCT Libraries team well as they continue their delicate and important restoration of UCT’s priceless archives.

Sincerely

Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
Vice-Chancellor


Please note: Donations can be made online through the UCT Alumni Ways to Give web page.

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In an email to UCT students, Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said:
“Thank you for your patience as we seek ways to return to full academic activity at the University of Cape Town under COVID-19 regulations. Our first priority is to ensure the health and safety of everyone who needs to return to campus buildings.”

UCT is deeply grateful to all the donors who supplied food and other essential items for our students, and to everyone who has so generously offered other forms of support and assistance.

Everyone who would like to support the #UCTFire emergency relief fund is urged to please make financial donations to UCT through the UCT Alumni Ways to Give web page.

Donations can also be made by EFT using the details below:
Account name: UCT Donations Account
Bank: Standard Bank of South Africa
Branch code: Rondebosch Branch, 025009
Account number: 07 152 2387
Swift code: SBZAZAJJ
Please include your donor name if you so wish, as well as the reference for your donation, e.g. Name Surname, #UCTFire.

Messages of support


Sciences Po, France 10:05, 4 May 2021
The University of Tokyo 09:00, 30 April 2021
McCall MacBain Foundation 16:00, 29 April 2021
Stephen Toope, Chair of IARU 23:50, 27 April 2021
Mazi Asset Management 21:00, 27 April 2021
The National Archives (UK) 17:40, 27 April 2021
Universiteit Antwerpen 16:20, 26 April 2021
Yale University 21:15, 23 April 2021
SOAS University of London 17:00, 23 April 2021
University of Nairobi 15:45, 23 April 2021
Zhejiang University 12:05, 23 April 2021
University of Glasgow 11:20, 23 April 2021
Durham University 18:20, 22 April 2021
Sanlam Corporate Team 16:00, 22 April 2021
MANCOSA 16:00, 22 April 2021
Worldwide Universities Network 19:10, 21 April 2021
Chinese Ambassador Chen Xiaodong 09:00, 21 April 2021
University of the Western Cape 09:00, 20 April 2021
Stellenbosch University 09:20, 19 April 2021
Minister Blade Nzimande 09:15, 19 April 2021
Committee on Higher Education 09:10, 19 April 2021
University of the Witwatersrand 09:05, 19 April 2021
University of Pretoria 09:00, 19 April 2021

 

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