Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Weekly Archivist interview: Request Archivist for English and Afrikaans and Springbok Radio custodian

Retha Buys
SABC Radio Archives
The SABC Radio Archives has Archivists who focus specifically on requests and/or on servicing clients. This is part of a series of weekly interviews where they will all answer the same questions addressed to them.
It is a way of getting a better understanding of what an Archivist do, as well as getting a better insight into availability and exploitation of our collections in the SABC Media Libraries.

The Archivist answering the questions this week is Retha Buys. She is a member of the Request Team in the SABC Radio Archives. She focuses on Afrikaans and English requests.
Added to this she is also the custodian for Springbok Radio, a discontinued radio station of the SABC.  She has been with the SABC Radio Archives for 13 years.

Retha, please tell us a little bit about your life and career.

I was born in Ermelo, Mpumalanga, and grew up in Bethal, also Mpumalanga, where I started and completed my school career.  After that I studied BA (Afrikaans) at UP, while doing Communication Studies at UNISA.  I completed my BA (Hons) Afr at UP with Literary Science, Media Literacy, Poetry, Prose, Editorial Management and Practical Journalism as subjects.   I joined the SABC as a cataloguing Archivist while still busy with my Honours degree.  So, I am a SABC’er through and through, from the start of my career.   I left the Archives for a year or so working in the News Traffic Room, but came back to my passion as a request Archivist, and also inherited the Springbok Radio collection.

Please tell us about a normal day in your studio. What type of requests do you receive?

Requests vary from day to day.  Mostly I do courtesy copies for clients of Radio Stations.  I also receive a lot of Springbok Radio requests from people remembering listening to these programs way back.  It has a lot of nostalgic and cultural value.  I also help journalists and presenters with research regarding re-use of programs for re-broadcast or for documentaries, which I also help compile from time to time.

Tell us more about the collection you focus on and the scope of material you need to preserve.

I handle requests regarding anything that is not News and Actuality, Sport, Music, Channel Africa or Indigenous Languages.  The scope is as wide as the heavens!  Regarding preservation I focus on Springbok Radio, sourcing, cataloguing and preserving as much of it as possible.

Do you struggle with technical difficulties, and if so, what?

The only technical frustration I deal with is not being able to make material available via the internet as I would like to.  I believe one of our main purposes is to make material accessible to the public, and it is my dream, especially for the Springbok Radio material, to give the public more access to this cultural treasure.

If you have an anecdote about a specific piece of interesting audio material, please share it with us. My favourite: “If I don’t see you through the week, I’ll see you through the window” – from Taxi.

Tell us why you enjoy doing the work that you do.

I love working with history, with sound, and with people.  In my job I can combine these.  I love the appreciation when you provided a client with the voice of a loved one who passed away, or could give children the privilege of hearing the voices of their ancestors they never met.  I love giving people the opportunity to experience “the theatre of the mind”, namely radio, and thus expanding their horizons.  I also love all the programs I get to listen to, broadening my general knowledge.  All in all, I am blessed in my job.

Related posts:
Springbok Radio revisited
The Weekly Archivist interview: Team Leader and Music request archivist
The Weekly Archivist Interview: News/Actuality and Sport request archivist

Questions and post by Karen du Toit, Afrikaans Archivist in the SABC Radio Archives.

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