DISA will make use of digital technologies to promote the efficient and economical delivery of information resources within a selected subject area to students, scholars, researchers and the wider community, locally and internationally. It will play a pivotal role in the development of a digital learning environment, in meeting the needs of an increasingly mature student profile, in the growing needs of distance education, and for lifelong learning.
DISA developed in two phases, now available as one seamless digital resource.
DISA 1, an initiative encouraged by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through a workshop held at the University of the Witwatersrand in September 1997, and funded by the Foundation in 1998, was the first library/archive project in South Africa to be undertaken on a national rather than a local or institutional level. It makes accessible online to scholars and researchers worldwide, South African material of high socio-political interest which would otherwise be difficult to locate and use.
DISA 2, which is also funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, expanded and developed DISA 1 with the addition of archival resources in multimedia formats. Entitled Southern African Freedom Struggles, c.1950-1994, it includes documents, interviews, articles, posters, commissions, trials, and legislation under the umbrella theme of freedom struggles, with carefully selected content in areas such as human rights, leadership, political parties, urban struggles, land issues, trade unions and student unions.
Content selection is undertaken by scholars who are specialists in various subject areas. It is a challenging task given the abundance of suitable material available and the difficulty of prioritizing it for inclusion. Content decisions are also affected by ownership and intellectual property rights issues, with care and effort expended in obtaining permission to use material for the DISA archive.