Cape Town – UCT’s Jagger Reading Room received a much-needed boost to save what is left of their historic material yesterday.
The Jagger Reading Room, which was destroyed by the fire on Table Mountain, is part of UCT Libraries’ Special Collections and housed a unique collection of more than 83 000 items of African studies material and other specialised subjects, as well as 1 300 sub-collections of unique manuscripts and personal papers.
The university received 2 000 crates from Pick n Pay yesterday.
UCT’s executive director of libraries, Ujala Satgoor, said cranes are on-site to lift steel and the roof and they are concerned about the large amount of debris that is waterlogged.
She said they put out a call for crates because all items cannot be stacked as one would in a book shelf or in a bookstore or in a library shelf.
“Here you have to put each item in a single layer and so when we put out a call, Pick n Pay was the first to respond. They are number one on our list at the moment in terms of being on site within a couple of hours,” she said.
Satgoor said yesterday they salvaged material that was under threat by water and those items are located in two basements but they were focusing on the upper basement which is directly below the Jagger Reading Room, she said.
She said it is a sad time for the university and for its history as they mourn the loss of great institutional assets.
“We are comforted by the outpouring of help from all corners to salvage some part of this significant collection so that future generations may continue benefiting through the expansion of knowledge and consciousness from others that came before them,” she added.
Transformation Director at Pick n Pay, Suzanne Ackerman-Berman, said they received a call late last night from the university asking assistance with crates for the library.
She said they managed to get what was needed in a very short space of time which was literally within 15-minutes.
She said it was their pleasure to be able to jump into action and collaborate with their suppliers.
“My heart goes out to all the volunteers who are on the campus trying to salvage and save all the historical information, the documents, the books and if we can help in doing anything else we’ll be there,” said Ackerman-Berman.
UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said they will issue updates regarding the library in due course once an assessment of the extent of the damage is complete.