SCOLMA AGM 2018 – Minutes


(UK Libraries and Archives Group on Africa)

Minutes of the 56th Annual General Meeting held at the University of Birmingham on Monday 10th September 2018 during the annual conference, ‘Things come together?: Literary archives from, in and for Africa’.


Present: Terry Barringer, Pat Hewitt, Lucy McCann, Alison Metcalfe, Sarah Rhodes, Marion Wallace, Dawn Wright, Charles Fonge, Dan Gilfoyle, Jenni Skinner, Laurence Byrne, Katie Sambrook, Mandy Banton, Sue Houchins, Linda-Susan Beard

Apologies were received from Alison Metcalfe, Stephanie Kitchen, Barbara Spina, Nicky Sugar.

 1. Minutes of last meeting

Mandy Banton asked to be noted in the minutes of the last meeting as being present. The minutes of the 55th Annual General Meeting (posted on the SCOLMA website were approved as a true and complete record.

2. Report of the Chair

Lucy McCann presented her report as Chair. She commented on the success of the 2017 Annual Conference (‘Document to Digital: how does digitisation aid African research?) held at the National Library of Scotland and the issue of African Research and Documentation (ARD) based upon it.  She thanked the University of Birmingham, ASAUK and Taylor and Francis for their support in hosting the 2018 Conference, and the speakers for the wide range of interesting subjects covered.

The Printing Place continued to make an excellent job of producing ARD and we are pleased that numbers 128 to 132 have been published over the last year, catching up with our publication schedule.  SCOLMA has continued its usual activities, including regular involvement with ELIAS and ASAUK, holding seminars and maintaining its website. Committee members were thanked for their contributions and enthusiasm.

It was with sadness that we marked the death of two valued SCOLMA friends in recent months – Alan Bell, Librarian of Rhodes House from 1981 to 1993, and a member of SCOLMA during those years who passed away in April, and Tony Kirk-Greene, distinguished Africanist and honorary member of SCOLMA who died in July.

The full report is attached below.

3. Financial statement and approval of audited accounts (tabled on behalf of the Treasurer)

The Chair presented Alison Metcalfe’s report on the audited accounts for 2017 as she was unable to attend.  It was noted that ARD subscription income was down again this year explained by the level of non-renewals for 2017 from EBSCO, the subscription agent used by the majority of SCOLMA’s subscribers.  During 2018 EBSCO’s system had flagged ARD as delayed which meant that subscriptions were not renewed automatically.  Now that publication of ARD is up to date it is expected that renewals for 2017, 2018 and possibly 2019 will be due in the autumn.  Subscriptions handled by Harrassowitz were similarly affected but they have recently asked for pricing information.

Royalties from the Publishers Licencing Agency was also down on the previous year as we had received significant back-payments in 2016. Income from the 2017 annual conference was also lower than the previous year, possibly because it was held in Edinburgh.  This was offset a little by the 2017 conference expenditure being lower as there were no expenses for speakers.

ARD printing expenditure was considerably higher this year as three issues were printed and shipped.  It was agreed at the AGM that the journal’s pricing structure would be discussed at the next SCOLMA Committee meeting in November.

As a result of low subscription income and high expenditure the balance of the account has reduced considerably since last year to £10,579.35.  Anticipated subscription renewals from EBSCO, however, should help to increase reserves.  The approval of the accounts was proposed by Marion Wallace, seconded by Dan Gilfoyle and passed unanimously. Peter Westley was reappointed as auditor, proposed by Pat Hewitt, seconded by Terry Barringer and agreed unanimously.

4. Appointment of Officers and Committee

The following nominations were put forward, including two newly proposed elected members – Charles Fonge and Katie Sambrook:


Chair – Lucy McCann, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

Secretary – Sarah Rhodes, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

Treasurer – Alison Metcalfe, National Library of Scotland

Editor – Terry Barringer (individual member)

Web manager – Jenni Skinner, African Studies Library, University of Cambridge

Programme secretary – Dan Gilfoyle, The National Archives

Development officer – [vacant]



Laurence Byrne, Senate House Library (elected 2016)

Charles Fonge, Borthwick Institute, University of York

Pat Hewitt, Robert Sainsbury Library, University of East Anglia (elected 2016)

Katie Sambrook, King’s College London

Nicky Sugar (Bristol Archives) (elected 2017)

Marion Wallace, The British Library



Barbara Spina (individual member)

Dawn Wright, SOAS Library


These were elected nem con.

ASAUK reps: Stephanie Kitchen, International African Institute and Toby Green, Kings College London (for Cambridge meetings).

It was also noted that both the Chair and the Treasurer would serve for one more year but would like to step down from their posts at the 2019 AGM.


6. Any other business

 Lucy McCann was thanked for her role in organising the 2018 conference.

The Chair made an appeal on behalf of Jos University Library in Nigeria.  The Library is seeking hardcopy journals to replace ones lost in a fire in 2016. The British Nigeria Education Trust has arranged warehousing of journals collected until mid-October 2018 and will then dispatch them to Jos University.  Please let her know if you are able to help.

No other business was reported.


Secretary: Sarah Rhodes (



Chair’s Report

2017 conference

We had a highly successful conference at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh in September 2017, the first time it has taken place north of the border in SCOLMA’s 55 year history, on the theme ‘Document to Digital: how does digitisation aid African research?’.

The keynote speaker was Jody Butterworth from the Endangered Archives Programme at the British Library who described the diversity of projects in Africa which the EAP has supported over the last 13 years and how this has impacted on research. Tom Cunningham from the University of Edinburgh reflected on running a pilot EAP project to rescue and partly digitise the records of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa in Kenya and Karl Magee from the University of Stirling described a crowd-funding venture to digitise part of the papers of Peter Mackay, a journalist and political activist in several African countries. Other speakers described the use of repeat photography to research ecological change, the project to digitise the records of the courts held in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, the development of a national strategy in Sudan to digitise at-risk cultural heritage, and how to stimulate use of digital documents and measure their impact. One pre-recorded presentation was played about the digitisation of audio-visual material at the University of Ghana and questions were asked of the presenter in Accra via Skype, another first for a SCOLMA conference. Several of the conference papers have been published in African Research and Documentation.

We are most grateful to our committee member Alison Metcalfe at the National Library of Scotland and her colleagues who ensured the day ran so smoothly. We are also grateful to our sponsors, Adam Matthew and Taylor & Francis, for their loyal support.


2018 conference

This year’s theme is ‘Things Come Together?: Literary Archives from, in and for Africa’. We are most grateful to ASAUK, the University of Birmingham and Taylor & Francis for their support and to our speakers for the wide range of subjects being covered. We are particularly grateful to Elisa Tuijnder, the ASAUK 2018 Conference Co-ordinator, who has been our person on the ground in Birmingham and been invaluable in making the practical arrangements.


African Research and Documentation

Our printers, The Printing Place, have continued to make an excellent job of producing African Research and Documentation and numbers 128 to 132 have been published in the last year so that we have now caught up with our publication schedule.  Number 132 contains another major contribution from Hans Zell, a review of the literature on publishing in African languages. This will be an immensely useful reference source and addresses the current debate on publishing in African languages. Contributions and suggestions for articles are always welcome.


Committee meetings and seminars

SCOLMA held three committee meetings this year, on 6 November 2017 (SOAS – Senate House North Block), 19 February 2018 (Senate House Library) and 4 June 2018 (Senate House Library). In June Dr Mandy Banton of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies gave an informative and discussion-provoking seminar on the migrated archives and questions around displaced archives.


Web presence

We continue to maintain our website and to tweet regularly, using a rota of SCOLMA committee members to keep the information up to date. We now have 466 followers on Twitter, an increase from 379 a year ago.


European Librarians in African Studies (ELIAS)

Marion Wallace attended the 12th Annual Meeting of ELIAS at the University of Vienna on 1st June this year which was also attended by librarians and archivists from France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Sweden.

There were seven presentations as well as a round-up of news from the different institutions and the business meeting of ELIAS. One theme which emerged was making information available on the internet and Marion presented on research she had recently undertaken on digital sources for African History in Europe while there was also a presentation on the Afrika-Portal being developed in Basel. The problems of fragmentation and the shortcomings of search engines were discussed. There were also presentations on the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and discussion on how libraries could contribute to the decolonising of knowledge.

We are grateful to Dawn Wright for continuing to represent SCOLMA on the ELIAS Working Group.


African Studies Association (UK)

We continue to value our close connections with ASAUK. I attended the ASAUK AGM in October and reported on SCOLMA’s activities at Council meetings in December and May. We are very grateful for the input of Stephanie Kitchen as ASAUK representative at our committee meetings.


Tributes and Thanks

SCOLMA has lost two valued friends in recent months. Alan Bell, Librarian of Rhodes House Library from 1981 to 1993 and a member of the SCOLMA committee during those years, died in April. Although he did not consider himself an Africanist Alan’s contributions to SCOLMA counsels were wise and valued and he played an active role in organising the 25th anniversary conference. An obituary appears in ARD 132.

Tony Kirk-Greene, distinguished Africanist and honorary member of SCOLMA, died in July. Tony was very supportive of SCOLMA and was the ASAUK representative on the committee for a number of years. We were very pleased that he was able to attend the 50th anniversary conference in Oxford in 2012. There will be an obituary in a future issue of ARD.

I would like to thank our long-serving editor of African Research and Documentation, Terry Barringer, for her sterling work and also Barbara Spina, Alison Metcalfe, Sarah Rhodes and particularly John McIlwaine for their assistance with editorial work over the last year; Alison Metcalfe our Treasurer who has kept our finances in good order and liaised with our printers; Sarah Rhodes our Secretary; our Seminar Secretary, Dan Gilfoyle; and our ELIAS representative, Dawn Wright. Terry Barringer, Pat Hewitt, Alison Metcalfe, Sarah Rhodes, Jenni Skinner and Marion Wallace have served on this year’s conference planning committee and we are grateful for all their work to make today a success.

Lucy McCann, Chair


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