ELIAS Annual Meeting 2016: Treasures of Tervuren

Librarians and archivists on African Studies in Europe (ELIAS) meet every year to discuss recent developments in collections -and talk about other interesting topics concerning Africa. The 2016 meeting of ELIAS, the 10th annual meeting, was held in Tervuren, Belgium, last summer.

Tervuren houses the Royal Museum for Central Africa. It has one of the largest Africa collections in the world on Central Africa, but it is especially famous for the diversity of its material: from maps to geology specimens, from photographs to art objects –and more. Tervuren boasts a colonial collection, and is now trying to surpass that stigma, by embracing (and cooperating with) the African diaspora in Belgium. The museum is currently also restructuring the buildings and exhibition rooms, and will reopen in 2017.

The  Annual Meeting 2016 was organized by the ELIAS Working Group. The programme was diverse. Pier Luigi Rossi talked about digitization at IRD (tropical soil science). Fabrice Melka (IMAF) spoke about the interesting collaborative project Transcrire, in which anyone can participate to make archives accessible. Asa Lund Moberg (NAI Uppsala) took a more fundamental approach and addressed the importance of library strategies for African Studies. Jos Damen (ASC Leiden) talked about ’Africa in Europe: digitizing Africa collections’. David Tréfas brought a case study on a higher level: the story of the East African Journal of Information Science –t.b.p. South African scholar Francois Janse van Rensburg talked about South African Collections in the Netherlands, such as the one in the Rijksmuseum (Good Hope: South Africa - Netherlands 1600-1994, forthcoming exhibition in 2017).

A day in Tervuren is not complete without a walk through the park and the beautiful surroundings. And archivists and (digital) librarians are not satisfied until they have seen at least three special collections, archives or digitized collections.  So Fleur De Jaeger from Tervuren took the ELIAS group  to the Geology Department, and showed the soil samples, minerals and digital maps. Just a perfect day.  ELIAS 2017 will be held in Basel, 28 June 2017.

Jos Damen, ASCL Library
Photos: Marijke van der Lee, ASCL Library

Interesting links:
- Royal Museum for Central Africa: http://www.africamuseum.be/home
- Inventory of the Stanley Archives: http://www.africamuseum.be/museum/collections/archives/docs/rmca-stanley.pdf 
- Transcrire (Pierre Mauny, Marceau Gast): http://transcrire.huma-num.fr/