Preservation of, and access to, legal deposit materials in South Africa.
The study investigates the preservation of, and access to, legal deposit materials in South Africa. The rapid development of technology has led to an increase in electronic publications as well as no considerable decrease in the production of printed materials making legal deposit a multifaceted and dynamic area of research. The primary purpose of legal deposit collections is to provide access to materials, both those published recently and produced years ago; these materials are deposited and need to be properly preserved for future generations. The specific objectives of the study were to, examine the activities and strategies in place to preserve materials while being used as well as the accessibility of these documents to the South African population. This study builds on and extends the candidate's investigation carried out in her master‘s thesis in 2007, about how legal deposit materials are kept and preserved. The highlight of the study includes identifying systems that assist with the collection of print and electronic documents. The means and processes to help make both print and electronic documents accessible in the long run are also identified. In addition, the study examines the challenges faced by legal deposit staff including their skills and knowledge in preservation management. The National Library of South Africa (NLSA), Mangaung Library Services, Msunduzi Municipal Library, Constitutional Court Library, R J R Masiea Public Library (Phuthaditjhaba) and North West Provincial Library Services were the units of analysis in this study. The study population included members of the Legal Deposit Committee, the heads of the libraries and departmental heads of legal deposit sections of each library. The whole population was in each case studied. Methodological triangulation was used to look at the problem from different angles using different tools in order to get a more accurate result. The study used both quantitative and qualitative methods, using self-administered questionnaires and interview schedules to collect data. A response rate of 78.6% was achieved for the questionnaire and results were analysed using SPSS. The qualitative method of conceptual content analysis was used to analyse the open-ended questions for the interview schedule. Descriptive statistics were used to summarise data in graphs, tables and pie charts. The major research findings indicate that preservation is not carried out properly at present due to the combined lack of preservation policies, funding, staff training and expertise. Most of the legal deposit libraries do not have preservation policies to improve preservation conditions, develop conservation facilities or to train and recruit staff. Furthermore the study concludes that various critical issues surrounding and affecting all facets of legal deposit stem from a lack of policy. Recommendations based on the findings and conclusions are made and the study establishes that effective implementation, preservation and access of legal deposit are dependent largely on many factors. The most important of these are a proper legislative framework that provides a firm foundation for legal deposit, adequate funding as well as skills and knowledge in preservation management.