SCOLMA (UK Libraries and Archives Group on Africa) Minutes – ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2021.

SCOLMA (UK Libraries and Archives Group on Africa)


Minutes of the 59th Annual General Meeting held virtually via Zoom
Monday, 14th June at 4.15 pm


Present: Marion Wallace (Chair), Sarah Rhodes (Secretary), Patricia Hewitt, Lucy McCann, Terry Barringer, Alison Metcalfe, Charles Fonge, Jenni Skinner, Stephanie Kitchen, Julio Cazzasa, Barbara Spina, Dan Gilfoyle, Mandy Banton

Observers: Esmeralda Kale, Roberta Dougherty, Karen Fung, Adrian Browne

Apologies: Jayne Pucknell, Nicky Sugar, Dawn Wright, Ivana Frlan, Katie Sambrook, John Pinfold, John McIlwaine


1. Approval of the Minutes of the 58th AGM (posted on the SCOLMA website

The Minutes were approved as a true record. There were no matters arising.

2. Report of the Chair 2020/21 (Marion Wallace) – circulated prior to the meeting

Marion Wallace presented her Chair’s report, available in full on the SCOLMA website and below. She highlighted the continued constraints created by the pandemic and noted the impact on African countries, particularly with the limited ongoing vaccination roll-out.

Despite the pandemic it has been a busy year for SCOLMA with two meetings being held on Zoom and a further General Meeting convened to agree the merger of the SCOLMA journal African Research & Documentation with Africa Bibliography to create Africa Bibliography, Research and Documentation. The contract is almost ready for signing. Thanks went to Stephanie Kitchen of the IAI for suggesting and making possible the merger with support from Sally Hoffmann at the Cambridge University Press. A SCOLMA sub-group chaired by MW with support from past members was also thanked for its involvement in the process.

In tandem with the journal merger, changes are being proposed to the SCOLMA membership structure with institutional membership being discontinued. These changes will include necessary amendments to SCOLMA’s constitution (proposed later in the AGM under item 6). This will also initiate a new income stream for SCOLMA and put the journal on a sounder financial footing. Thanks went to the Treasurer, Pat Hewitt, for managing the SCOLMA finances over the past year and setting up PayPal. Thanks also went to Peter Westley for continuing as auditor.

The annual conference, ‘Oun a ní la ? gbé l’árug? (It is the heritage we have that we must celebrate): Publishing, Collecting and Accessing African-language Materials’, postponed form 2020 had been held successfully online earlier in the day with colleagues based in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, the Netherlands, the US and the UK presenting papers. The Keynote speaker was Munyao Kilolo of the Ngugi wa Thiong’o Foundation and Jalada Africa. The papers will be published in the new ABRD. Thanks were given to the organising committee, in particular Jenni Skinner and Charles Fonge for their huge effort in producing the event via MS Teams Live.

Jenni Skinner, web manager, has also continued to update the current SCOLMA website, preparing its migration to a new platform. The Twitter account continues to tweet regularly with a rota of helpers and now has 622 followers. The SCOLMA Jismail mailing list, LIS-SCOLMA, used to publicise activities to friends and supporters now has 100 subscribers and anyone is welcome to subscribe to keep up-to-date with SCOLMA’s work.

European Librarians in African Studies (ELIAS) has not met since SCOLMA’s last AGM but hopes to convene in Bordeaux in October. Thanks to Dawn Wright for her work on the ELIAS steering group. Thanks also to Stephanie Kitchen who continues to represent African Studies Association UK (ASAUK) on the committee, and to Lucy McCann for attending meetings of the ASAUK Council on behalf of SCOLMA.

SCOLMA has actively been involved in policy issues. Firstly, at the last AGM a motion was passed supporting the BLM movement, committing SCOLMA and its members to further action. During the year members have been active in a variety of decolonising movements in their own institutions. Secondly, SCOLMA responded to the call for consultation on the threatened closure of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London. SCOLMA was particularly concerned by the threat posed to the archives and library collections and wrote a letter to the Vice Chancellor of the University of London. Thirdly, SCOLMA made a statement of support and sympathy after the devastating fire that destroyed much of the Jagger Library at the University of Cape Town, resulting in the loss of large parts of their print collections. SCOLMA continues to discuss practical ways of support in the future. SCOLMA statements on these matters are available on the website.

Finally, the Chair gave her thanks to committee members for all their support and work during such a challenging year, especially Sarah Rhodes for her tremendous contribution as Secretary. It has been a year which had nonetheless achieved much to safeguard the future of SCOLMA and its journal. SCOLMA sadly says farewell to Bristol Record Office colleagues, Nicky Sugar and Jayne Pucknell, but welcomes Ivana Frlan from the University of Birmingham who has attended some meetings as an observer.

This was the Chair’s final meeting of her second term of two years before passing the role to Lucy McCann. She will continue on the committee as Development Officer.

3. Financial Statement and approval of the audited accounts (Patricia Hewitt) – circulated prior to the meeting

• Appointment of auditor

Patricia Hewitt, SCOLMA Treasurer, spoke to her report. The effects of the pandemic had affected income in 2020 due to the conference postponement and with the increased ARD printing costs of three issues, rather than two, exceeding membership and subscription receipts. The update for 2021 highlighted continued financial constraints due to the pandemic and the free online conference but, without the need to subsidise ongoing ARD costs given its merger from 2022, it is anticipated that SCOLMA will be in a stronger position to meet any future commitments going forward. The balance of account at 30th May 2021 was £11,868.75.

The approval of the accounts and reappointment of Peter Westley as auditor, were proposed by Alison Metcalfe and seconded by Barbara Spina. All were in favour.

4. Appointment of Officers and Committee

The following nominations had been received:

Chair – Lucy McCann (Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford)
Secretary – Sarah Rhodes (Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford)
Treasurer – Patricia Hewitt (Robert Sainsbury Library, University of East Anglia)
Editor – Terry Barringer (Individual member)
Programme Secretary – Daniel Gilfoyle (The National Archives)
Development Officer – Marion Wallace (British Library)
Web Manager – Jenni Skinner (Centre of African Studies Library, University of Cambridge)


Julio Cazzasa – (Senate House Library, University of London) – elected 2020
Alison Metcalfe – (The National Library of Scotland) – elected 2019
Barbara Spina – (Individual member)
Dawn Wright – (SOAS Library, University of London) – elected 2020


Charles Fonge – (Borthwick Institute Archives, University of York)
Katie Sambrook – (Kings College London)

ASAUK representative: Stephanie Kitchen – (International African Institute)

Proposed by Alison Metcalfe and seconded by Patricia Hewitt, committee officers and members were elected nem con.

5. Approval of the Minutes of the General Meeting of 30 April 2021; discussion of the merger of African Research and Documentation and Africa Bibliography – circulated prior to the meeting

The General Meeting of 30th April 2021 met to discuss and vote on the proposal:

This meeting approves in principle the merger of African Research and Documentation with Africa Bibliography, with final details to be negotiated and agreed between the SCOLMA committee and the International African Institute.

The motion was passed unanimously by all persons present at the General Meeting. The Minutes from this meeting were proposed at the AGM by Terry Barringer and seconded by Lucy McCann. All were in favour.

6. New SCOLMA membership scheme and related changes to SCOLMA Constitution – Papers circulated prior to the meeting.

The Chair spoke to her paper, with many thanks to past and present committee members for their comments on its creation, proposing changes to the SCOLMA membership scheme. Changes had been precipitated by the amalgamation of ARD and Africa Bibliography whereby it was felt inappropriate for all institutions receiving the new journal (many as part of a package) to be considered SCOLMA members.

It was proposed firstly that institutional membership be ended. Secondly, free individual membership, which will not include access to the journal, will be introduced as follows: Committee membership will be open to all officers and committee members not already holding membership of SCOLMA; and discretionary free membership will be open, in particular for colleagues based in Africa, allowing free access to the journal via various schemes available. Thirdly, paying individual membership will be introduced as follows: full-paying membership with journal access, in categories and at rates determined from time to time by a SCOLMA AGM or General Meeting (For each category, the cost will be the charge by the journal publisher (which is offered to us by CUP at a concessionary rate) plus a flat fee to SCOLMA); and concessionary membership with access to the print/online journal charged at the concessionary publisher’s rates plus a lower SCOLMA fee. Finally, honorary membership will continue largely as at present with members automatically receiving free access to the journal online, and receiving access to the print journal if they request it.

The SCOLMA Constitution will be amended in line with these changes. Appendices 2 and 3 circulated with the membership proposal incorporated the proposed changes above and a minor change to the Aims in point 2.1 (from ‘library materials’ to include ‘library and archive materials’). It was noted that the Charity Commission rules allow amendment of membership arrangements. Amendment of the charitable aims of the organisation needs to be reported to the Charity Commission which will be done.

The floor was open for points of information but none were noted. The membership changes and amendments to the SCOLMA Constitution were proposed by Sarah Rhodes and seconded by Barbara Spina. All were in favour.

7. Any Other Business

Lucy McCann updated attendees on the current situation at the Jagger Library, University of Cape Town, recently destroyed by fire. She had attended a meeting on 2nd June where Michal Singer from the University’s Special Collections department had reported on which material had been lost, damaged and salvaged. She also spoke to the plans going forward. Everything above ground including, including two-thirds of the Africa book collections and archives being scanned for readers in the closed reading room, had been lost. The two underground levels including the audio-visual, photographic and government papers on level one, and rare antiquary books and 40% of the most heavily used MSS collections in level two had survived but with water damage. All archival boxes, which had protected material to some extent, will need to be replaced. In all, 12,500 crates of material had been salvaged and was being dried and cleaned by conservators with help from many volunteers.

Going forward SCOLMA has offered to assist in the process of replacing lost books, coordinating with retired academics in the UK willing to donate their book collections. SCOLMA is awaiting news on which titles will be needed and will put out the call to contacts once known. Members are also investigating costs to ship material to South Africa.

Finally, Lucy McCann as incoming Chair passed on the Committee’s thanks to Marion Wallace, the outgoing Chair, for her sterling work and commitment to SCOLMA during past two years. It had been a challenging period but she had played a significant role in future-proofing SCOLMA.

Sarah Rhodes, SCOLMA Secretary – 22 June 2021

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