Staff attitudes to access and outreach in KwaZulu-Natal Archives.
The purpose of this study was to investigate staff attitudes to access and outreach in the three provincial and two of the university-based private archives of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa. The position with regard to physical, legal and bibliographic access, including reference services and user education, was explored through visiting the five archives and discussing the situation with archives staff, using the "Checklist for a visit to an archives repository" as the first survey instrument. A survey was then conducted among the 45 staff members, using the second survey instrument: "Survey of archives in KwaZulu-Natal: staff questionnaire", in order to find out if archives inKZN hold outreach activities to publicise themselves and promote their use, and if so, which activities are held, and what attitudes staff hold with regard to these activities. To provide the necessary background information, a literature review was done. The archival situation was looked at from all aspects, starting with a brief overview ofthe history, development and usage ofarchives in the Western World, Africa and South Africa and focussing on the current policy and situation in KZN. Background information was also given on the issues of reference services, public programming and outreach in archives generally and in South Africa in particular. The results of the checklist and questionnaire were then analysed, and revealed difficulties with physical and bibliographic or intellectual access, a lack of user education, and deficiencies in staff qualifications and training. It was found that four out of five archives had held outreach activities, and that there was a growing awareness ofthe need to publicise archives. Activities preferred by staff and user differed from archive to archive. Staff needed to be aware ofwhich type of activity would appeal to each different sector ofthe public. Staff attitudes varied on such topics as best ways ofencouraging users into the archives, factors causing archives not to encourage new users, and factors causing lack of interest of potential users. It was found that there was a dearth of public relations training both in degrees and diplomas, and of in-service training. Recommendations were then made for, among others, improvements to premises, reading room service and user education; upgrading of archives qualifications; provision of in-service training and outreach workshops, based on the findings of the study.
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