Lost Libraries, Burnt Archives is a collected volume of short stories, artworks, poems, essays by 22 contributors including Koleka Putuma, Masande Ntshanga, Bongani Kona, and many more. It is a result of a collaborative project with colleagues at the University of Cape Town, and responds to the 'Of Smoke and Ash: Jagger Library Memorial Exhibition' curated by Jade Nair and Dr Duane Jethro at UCT. This exhibition commemorated the tragic fire at the Jagger Library in April 2021, and celebrated the salvage efforts of volunteers and UCT Libraries. The contributors to this book are either artists and academics, sometimes both, and they write about libraries and archives or reflect on the topics of commemorative practices and collective loss, artistic practice and curatorship as a creative site of knowledge. Editors Sindi-Leigh-McBride and Julia Rensing are PhD Candidates at the Centre for African Studies, University of Basel.
The physical book had a limited print run (100 copies) and given the reality of the high costs of books in South Africa, was not available for sale but instead made freely available to university and public libraries, research institutions and specialized archives in South Africa and at select international institutions. Additionally, a number of copies were made available for individuals who donated funds to Victory of the Word, a fundraising and development platform committed to serving independent artists and the preservation of language both visual and written.