Kenya News Agency holds more than 70,000 photographs in their archive. The pictures, taken since 1940, are key to Kenya’s national history and heritage. Yet, the national treasures are in danger of loss or damage if they are not digitized soon. Retrieval of the photos on demand is also a herculean task.
A report now says that the agency has no choice but to set up a digital library to avoid extinction.That was the bone of a workshop in which findings were presented to top decision makers at the Ministry of Information and Communications.
“By digitizing we will start to create wealth and expand the talent pool in the arts,” said the PS, Ministry of Information and Communications, Dr Bitange Ndemo. “It’s only through looking through history, that we will tackle our current problems,” Dr Ndemo added, as he revealed that plans were underway to also replicate the same venture at KBC. Others who were present at the breakfast meeting were Kenya ICT Board CEO, Paul Kukubo, Deputy CEO and Programs Manager, Victor Kyalo and KNA Acting Director of Information of Information, Mr. Joseph Olewe Owiti.
The report, “Digitization of photographs, audio visual and text records at the Kenya News Agency of the Department of Information,” was gathered from experts drawn from the private and public sector in a workshop held in July, 2012. Ms Kaburo Kobia, the Project Manager, Local Digital Content at Kenya ICT Board has been leading the discussions.
“It was agreed that KNA’s records must be stored in a well organized physical library that meets international-standards with a secure online catalogue to allow easy retrieval of the physical records,” said Ms Kobia.
The reasons for the venture were given as to promote transparency, improve service delivery, and icrease access to public information and data. This will result in promoting creativity, will raise Kenya’s profile and story, while upholding national pride and cohesion.
“We hold the history of Kenya at KNA,” commented Aura Wycliffe, a librarian at KNA.
Commercialization and free use was also agreed upon. The report noted, KNA should build an online platform to allow contributors to submit digital photos, video, audio and text and in turn allow users to view order and purchase digital copies. A licensing model will allow KNA to manage reuse of its digital content, while offering an opportunity for increased revenue collection.
“Photos for online use will be free and low resolution while those for commercial use eg documentaries will be available at a fee,” Kaburo divulged. Requests for photos will be either through the online platforms or through the traditional methods like post or walk-ins.
The experts also emphasized the importance of motivating current KNA staff to contribute content to the platform, collaborating with partners to promote and reposition KNA as leading media outlet and engaging the public to participate in improving the quality and quantity of the content.
“Most of our records have remained in files and shelves where access has been cumbersome even for the custodians,” reported, the KNA, Acting Director of Information of Information, Mr. Joseph Olewe Owiti. “Digitization, I believe will enable wider access to KNA data to a wide audience as possible and offer valuable reference material for scholars, researchers, investors and avid information seekers,” he continued.
KNA through, its countrywide network, files over 40,000 news articles and over one thousand feature articles every year. Some two thousand video clips are also filed annually alongside over 3,000 photographs. All this information will now be availed in digital form at a click of the cursor.