KENYA INFORMATION PRESERVATION SOCIETY

HISTORY

The Kenya Information Preservation Society (formerly the Kenya National Microfilming Society) had its beginning in an ad-hoc meeting of a few librarians and archivists in June 1990. This meeting had been called to discuss the problems of inaccessibility of back issues of newspapers. This small gathering realized that there was a serious need to conserve and preserve not only the Kenyan newspapers but also deteriorating collections of rare materials in the country—photographs, maps, books, journals. There was agreement that a co-operative microfilming programme should be started, and thus the Kenya National Microfilming Society came into being. The draft constitution was adopted in 1992, and the Society was registered in 1993. The broad objective of the Society was to facilitate the preservation and conservation of Kenya’s national information heritage.

The constitution provided for membership of academic and non-academic institutions as well as individuals. Membership subscriptions were to cover the basic administrative costs of the Society. The constitution also made provision for an Executive Committee which was to handle the day-to-day activities of the Society. The Society was officially launched in July 1994 and since that time, a number of projects have been undertaken to fulfill the objectives of the organization. By August 2002, members of the Executive Committee realized that the name Kenya National Microfilming Society did not adequately cover all the activities of the Society and a new name, Kenya Information Preservation Society, was adopted.

The KIPS Executive Committee consists of active and retired librarians and archivists of public libraries, universities, and research institutions. Thus far, the Society has existed with no significant grant; a small amount of funding, $500, was received for the poster project, plus $6,000 for the theses-dissertations project. The excellent support of the National Archives in providing a meeting place for the Executive Committee, assistance with photocopying, telephone calls, and other communications must be acknowledged. Also, the University of Nairobi made available without charge some work space in the University Archives where KIPS has been able to locate a computer and much needed storage space for records.

PROJECTS

The following projects have been undertaken by the Kenya Information Preservation Society (KIPS):

  1. Small posters featuring aspects of preservation and conservation of library materials were distributed to approximately 40 Kenya libraries. The colourful illustrations were created by a local artist. A grant of $500 was received to pay the artist, the photocopying costs, and the mailing charges.
  2. A conference was organized in March 2003, with approximately 50 participants. The theme of the meeting, “Information Preservation Challenges in the 21st Century” was explored by 10 speakers and 7 demonstrations.
  3. A booklet on the preservation of paper-based information materials was compiled and made ready for distribution.
  4. Details of Nairobi firms dealing with microfilming were organized, verified and made available to interested institutions.
  5. A survey of what microfilms are held in Kenya libraries and research institutions was undertaken and the results were published.
  6. The Union list of theses and dissertations held by universities and research organizations in Kenya, Issues no. 1, 2, and 3 containing over 12,000 citations, were published in 2003, 2005, and 2008 in CD format. The CD-ROMS have been made available without charge to all contributors. The database was mounted on a website, researchkenya.org, in March 2010.
  7. The needs of the MacMillan Library, a Nairobi City Council public libary, have been given significant attention by the Executive Committee. A proposal for funding for the much needed preservation of newspapers, photographs, periodicals and rare Africana books held by the MacMillan was drawn up and presented to Unesco, Kenya. Unfortunately, no support was given.
  8. A brochure giving details of the Kenya Information Preservation Society was published.

THE FUTURE

The existence of the Kenya Information Preservation Society, through the past ten years, has depended much more on the energies and commitment of the members of the Executive Committee than on financial resources. The small number of librarians and archivists who have participated in the various projects of KIPS have worked together voluntarily to address national preservation and conservation problems. The achievements have been worthwhile, but there is an enormous number of projects yet to be undertaken.

In future, special attention will be paid to increasing the membership of the Society so that its projects are more widely supported. The Executive Committee realizes that it must work closely with a great variety of information centres to be able to fulfill its objectives.

Kenya Information Preservation Society

P.O. Box 4363-00200 Nairobi, Kenya

Email: kenyadocuments@yahoo.com