This post officially declares the project launch of the Namibia Digital Repository! For the past year, I have been slowly digitizing and piecing together a Namibian Studies online digital library. Far too often, existing scholarly materials pertaining to Namibia are not accessible to Namibians for many reasons; this project seeks to fill a gap in scholarly access.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, this project is both creative and agglomerative. It is creative in the sense that countless hours have been spent in front of scanners and VCRs digitizing books, photos, documents, and films (for more on this, click here). It is agglomerative in the sense that I also pull from existing Namibiana resources on the web, providing attribution and an alternate host for the files (for more on this, click here).
As of 5 May, 2016, I have uploaded 246 items into the repository, broken down into the following collections:
Basler Afrika Bibliographien: (2 Scanned, 18 Agglomerated)
Dissertations on Namibia: (7 Scanned, 24 Agglomerated)
Documentary Films on Namibia: (20 Digitized, 5 Agglomerated)
Finding Aids: (2 Scanned)
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung: (9 Agglomerated)
Labour Resource and Research Institute: (8 Agglomerated)
Legal Assistance Centre: (15 Agglomerated)
Leiden University: (3 Agglomerated)
Miscellaneous Articles: (3 Scanned)
Missionary and Travelers’ Diaries: (1 Scanned)
Namibia Documentary Series (Interviews): (11 Digitized)
Namibia Institute for Democracy: (12 Agglomerated)
Namibian Autobiographies: (5 Scanned, 1 Agglomerated)
Namibian Economic Policy Research Unit: (1 Scanned)
Nordic Africa Institute: (19 Agglomerated)
Nordic Documentation on the Liberation Struggle in Southern Africa: (6 Agglomerated)
Out of Print Books on Namibia: (44 Scanned, 11 Agglomerated)
Political Documents: (3 Scanned)
Thomas Baines: (11 Scanned)
Union of South Africa “Ethnological” Publications: (7 Scanned)
Some of these collections are still works-in-progress, particularly the ever-important “Out of Print Books” and the “Missionary and Travelers’ Accounts” collections, which will see their numbers rise as I include some recent scans I’ve made.
Furthermore, I’ve recently received a consignment from the retiring Professor Dr. Robert Gordon of the University of Vermont. Dr. Gordon is an esteemed and radical scholar, authoring several books on Namibian history and anthropology (perhaps his most famous is the 1991 The Bushman Myth). On his retirement, he has provided me with many boxes of old papers from the United Nations Institute for Namibia in Lusaka, Zambia and of early, pre-independence publications from the University of Namibia. During this summer, I will be digitizing these papers and publications to form two or three new collections. For digital library projects to succeed, it is necessary for them to incorporate new content regularly. I hope to continue to live up to this.
Other than continually adding more material during the summer, I will also be spending a great deal of time advertising the resource, appealing for other scholars, librarians, and archivists to make use of the repository, and hopefully add their own materials. I cannot do all of the work on my own.
The final aspect of the repository, and this is the most fun, is the use of exhibits. For those of us who use archival resources in our research, one often opens old finding aids to try to locate archival boxes relevant to our research. The first few pages of the finding aids often have a brief introduction from the archivist or scholar who organized the collection. This introduction is intended to go beyond just introducing the user to how the resources are organized; it is meant to provide thematic guidance. Exhibits in Omeka can function the same way. I plan to incorporate a number of short historiographic essays into these visual exhibits, introducing the user to the materials included in the repository, as well as the significance of each one. I have built one exhibit on Namibiana studies and resources in Finland, and I have another en-route exploring writings on trade unions and labour in Namibian history. These will form a crucial component into allowing other scholars to contribute more than just PDF scans and audio files. Exhibits will also help university students navigate the website in the best way possible.
I hope that all of you enjoy going through the materials I have created and collected over the past year, and I would love to receive feedback on the content and look of the site as well.
Bernard C. Moore