Original Research

Digital preservation practices in academic libraries in South Africa in the wake of the digital revolution

Tlou M. Masenya, Patrick Ngulube
SA Journal of Information Management | Vol 21, No 1 | a1011 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v21i1.1011 | © 2019 Tlou Maggie Masenya, Patrick Ngulube | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 June 2018 | Published: 07 March 2019

About the author(s)

Tlou M. Masenya, Department of Information Studies, University of Zululand, KwaDlangezwa, South Africa
Patrick Ngulube, Department of Interdisciplinary Research and Postgraduate Studies, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: The preservation of digital resources in academic institutions in South Africa is an imperative because of the proliferation of digital resources and the realities of the digital revolution. The study focused on digital preservation practices within academic libraries in South Africa. A number of studies were undertaken in the field of preservation in South Africa and they focused on the preservation of cultural heritage, preservation of electronic government and preservation of public digital information. The major gap in the literature reinforces the need to closely examine digital preservation practices in academic libraries in South Africa. There is a need to understand the extent of preservation of digital resources in various contexts in order to guarantee access to them for future generations. This will improve our understanding of the preservation of digital resources in academic libraries in the wake of the digital revolution.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate digital preservation practices in academic libraries in South Africa in order to suggest solutions for effective digital preservation.

Method: The survey research method was used for data collection. Twenty-seven academic institutions in South Africa were surveyed. Data were analysed through the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences.

Results: The findings revealed that academic libraries experienced difficulties in preserving and sustaining their digital resources because of the absence of established standards, policies and procedures, inadequate resources, as well as a lack of skills and training. They also had difficulties with limited funding and collaboration efforts, and the threat of technological obsolescence because of the constantly changing software and hardware, poor technology infrastructure and legal issues.

Conclusion: All these challenges have created the need for best practices and solutions to facilitate the long-term preservation of digital resources in the academic libraries. Recommendations were made on the basis of the results.


Keywords

digitization; digital preservation; digital resources; academic library; digital library

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