RESTORING THE ARCHIVE OF THE NAIROBI RAILWAY MUSEUM

In May 2018, founder Chao Tayiana was awarded an independent researcher grant by the Endangered Archives Programme to restore  the archival collection of the Nairobi Railway Museum.  The exercise which is a pilot project, aims to rehabilitate, assess, catalogue and establish the full extent of the currently vulnerable records held at the railway museum in Nairobi. While digitisation is a major priority for the future preservation of this collection, it is important to first protect the material from environmental factors, ensure they are stored in suitable archiving conditions, catalogue them and only then can a digital documentation exercise be successful.

TIMELINE: January 2019 – March 2019

PROJECT DESCRIPTION:

The state in which the records are currently stored poses the greatest threat to the integrity and quality of the collection. The lack of proper ventilation, dust, humidity and dampness continually compromises the state of the records which are kept in the open, with no suitable storage boxes, cabinets and containers.The key outcomes of this project are:

  1. To ensure that the records are stored in suitable archiving condition
  2. To identify the extent and state of the collection
  3. To digitise a sample of the records.

This project will also involve training of museum staff to enable them to handle and care for the collection when the project is over.

 TECHNIQUES INVOLVED: 

  • Archival conservation and storage
  • Document handling and cleaning
  • Collection Cataloguing
  • Metadata management
  • 2D sample digitisation

ACTIVITIES:

  • Training of project interns and railway museum staff members
  • Periodic reporting on progress and documentation carried out

QUESTIONS THAT WE SEEK TO ADDRESS THROUGH THIS PROJECT 

As we work through this project, here are some key questions that we aim to keep in mind:

  1. Public engagement –  Can restoring the archive and creating a more suitable access/reading environment increase visitors to the railway museum library?
  2. Increased access – Does cataloguing and indexing increase the efficiency and amount of material that researchers/library users can access in a single visit?
  3. A case for full digitisation – Will digitising a sample of the collection provide a stronger fundraising case to digitise the entire collection?

MORE INFORMATION

2 years after the carrying out the Save The Project, this preservation exercise, flows seamlessly as a need to preserve the archival documents on which the initial project was largely founded. I look forward to starting this exercise and shall be sharing more updates soon..Project blog