UCT Jagger library salvage project ongoing

eNCA's Lindsay Dentlinger reports. Courtesy of #DStv403

CAPE TOWN - It's been two weeks since a mountain fire swept across the upper campus of the University of Cape Town.

Salvage operations at its Jagger library, which bore the brunt of the devastation, are still in full swing.

Dozens of volunteers are helping to remove the rarest content.

READ: Arson charge for man accused of Table Mountain fire dropped

Librarians estimate it could take another ten days before the building is totally cleared.

A steady stream of volunteers has been arriving daily to help with the mission. It's estimated around 60 percent of the contents have now been removed.  
Mandy Noble, UCT the principal librarian of Published Collections, said, "we have made incredible progress. It really has been thanks to the support from the Cape Town public, volunteers, UCT students and academics who have volunteered. And just the public. They've been tremendous, we would not have been able to do it without them."

Teams have been packing the contents from the shelves into marked crates, to allow for the whole archive to be recreated in a temporary space.
Human chains are helping to move the contents to storage areas.

Noble said, "we have been able to save the majority of our rare book collection, which is fantastic because we had some very old and valuable things in there. We have been able to save manuscripts and even the most historical significant ones, and even the most beautiful we've been able to save."

The majority of the African studies collection which was stored on the two main floors has been reduced to cinders but the extent of the losses is still to be quantified.

Nobles said, "it's difficult to say what percentage or what they are, because we've seen one or two coming out and we go yay, those are safe, but we haven't been able to make an overall assessment.

The university is appealing for more help, particularly on weekdays, to get the job done.

Volunteers can sign up online to assist.


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