The demise of the Lutheran Theological Institute Library and Archives in retrospect: reflections of a Manuscript Librarian in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

Francis Garaba


The closure of an information centre be it a library, archives or a museum should be cause of concern for the information professional considering the fact that information contained in there could be a risk especially when there is joint ownership which for some reasons collapses due to conflict leaving the record in both physical and electronic form vulnerable. To compound the situation, the lack of a proper transition mechanism to oversee that library and archives equipment with the information contained in there is handed over to the new custodians of the material for temporary storage has far reaching consequences in terms of access and preservation. The dramatic scenes that ensued at the Lutheran Theological Institution’s Library and Archives are worth documenting for the benefit of sister institutions and for the information sector in general especially in situations where conflict is concerned as was the case here. The demise of LTI was an unmitigated disaster owing largely to internal dissension. The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions [IFLA] (2017) and Ngulube (2018) acknowledged that like many other forms of cultural heritage, documentary works are under constant threat of destruction due to a number of reasons and conflict was singled out as was the case at the LTI Library. However, a number of lessons can be learnt from this debacle and a few will be highlighted here. Firstly, faith based collections (religious archives) need to be legislated like their counterparts public archives. Secondly, sister institutions need to ensure that both records and archives management functions are harmonized to minimize over reliance on donors for material in the archives.


Pietermaritzburg Cluster of Theological Libraries, collection management, Library and Information Science, professional associations, conflict, faith based collections, catalogue, information professional, archives

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