UCT Saves Half of Their Damaged Archives

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UCT is in the midst of their restoration process after assessing the damaged that were done to their residences, Jagger Library and various other building. They are working with people all over the world to restore the damaged archives after recovering it from the library. UCT is thankful for all the assistance they have received during this time. 


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Since the fire at the University of Cape Town (UCT), UCT has experienced the loss of a section of their library and damage to their residences and various other buildings across the campus, but the restoration begun as soon as the fire was extinguished and it was declared safe. 

In a statement released by UCT they explain the damage in detail and where they're at with the restoration process.

Jagger Library and Residences 

After declared safe and with the help of 150 volunteers, UCT luckily managed to salvage 50% of the material in the Jagger Library archives. UCT Libraries Executive Director, Ujala Satgoor and Dr Dale Peters, who was the director of eResearch before she retired last year, teamed up for the conservation of the libraries material. 

There was not only fire damage but, also water damage that affected the library and its rare materials. This makes the conservation process of the delicate archives even more difficult. 

UCT has currently installed two cold containers to assist with the freeze drying process of the archives and they will also be installing a humidifier container.

Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, Vice-Chancellor of UCT says: 

 Pick ’n Pay generously provided us with crates on loan, so that our volunteers could transport the materials with minimal handling. Vehicle transport was also provided by Elliot and Stuttafords and volunteers.

UCT is also work with experts across South Africa, and the world in assistance to restore the damaged materials.

As for the damage to the rest of the buildings, UCT is has most of them restored and in full operations. 

Smuts Hall and Fuller Hall residences were reopened this morning, with up to 90% of students returning. 

They intend on completing the restoration process in the upcoming vacation period.

Going Forward

Since the start of the fire UCT has been vigilant in preventing flare up and possibly even more damage than before. The Campus Protection Service (CPS) has taken upon themselves to work 24 hours with fire extinguishing equipment to prevent any more fires. 

Going forward UCT aims to rebuild their campus in a more environmentally sustainable manner, creating a "greener" campus community.

"Some spaces will remain as close as possible to the previous look and feel of the building, while others – such as Cadbol House, La Grotta and the Jagger Library Reading Room – offer the opportunity for reinventing those spaces, within the constraints of heritage, fire and national building regulations," says Prof Phakeng.

For all the damage done, the restoration process is said to take months. 

UCT VC says that although the fire is now over we are still in a terrible pandemic and Covid-19 protocols will till be in full measure as the campus returns to its positive state. 

UCT thanks Cape Town and everyone who assisted them through this hard time


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