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Developing New Approaches to the Preservation and Sharing of Africa’s Printed Heritage: the Eritrean Case

GoTriple's project summary

The research project aim at developing a new methodological and procedural approach to the preservation and dissemination of Africa’s printed heritage through the use of digital technologies. Since independence many African countries have attempted to recover their historical sources. Initially parchments, manuscripts, archival and oral source were able to get the lion share of the attention but it has gradually appeared that local printed material are rich source of information and can greatly contribute to the understanding of many aspect of the modern history of Africa. Consequently many institutions have urged more attention to this important historical source, fostering preservation readiness and recommending the compilation of national bibliographies and the recovery of printed materials. Nevertheless, many factors have hampered the achievement of this target: lack of adequate bibliographical resources, dispersion of the printed materials, extreme rarity of many of the documents and consequent impossibility to buy them on the market due to financial constraints, etc. Therefore the concrete risk that many countries are facing is that of large parts of their National printed heritage being dispersed or even destroyed within the next few decades. The project consists of a first part aimed at identifying, localizing and cataloging the printed material appeared in Eritrea between the years 1867 and 1962 (the first date coincides with the appearance of the first printed book in Eritrea, the second represent the annexation of Eritrea to Ethiopia). A second part consists in the digitalization of the identified printed material. The conclusive part consists in the creation of the National Virtual Library of Eritrea. The scientific contribution of this project is to produce a procedural approach simple, inexpensive and sustainable so as to facilitate the repetition of this experience in other African countries.

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