This paper aims to assess the state of preservation of paper records at the Lesotho National Archives (LNA). The LNA was first established in 1958 while Lesotho was a protectorate of Britain. Museums, libraries and archives are all collecting institutions and although their collections may be of different material types, their collections are all associated with historical, social, artistic, scientific and research ‘value’, to name a few. Archival institutions in the world are mandated with housing some of the oldest records and are working tirelessly to retain the information contained within these records. This mandate comes with many challenges and although these may seem independent of one another, there is some common ground; particularly in African countries where these challenges commonly stem from financial hardships some countries are facing in addition to a lack of awareness of the importance of cultural heritage.
The challenges of archival preservation in the LNA mostly stem from a lack of financial backing and a non-existent archival policy. The LNA is committed to preserve its records for future use, but the preservation is not addressed in a uniform manner. Currently, the Lesotho State Library which houses the LNA operates with no allocated budget and this makes it difficult for the archives to source outside means for funding independently because the government has been unable to pay subscriptions to associations such as the International Council on Archives (ICA). The storage in the LNA is built in such a manner that mediocre preventive conservation is achieved with a broken HVAC system, no compliance to a preventive conservation framework and a lack of skills devaluing what protection was partially offered by the building. If the prevailing situation continues, the current deterioration observed will worsen and there is a strong risk of both information and material loss.
Preservation, preventive conservation, records, storage, cultural heritage, archives, deterioration
Mini Dissertation (MScoSci (Tangible Heritage Conservation))--University of Pretoria, 2021.