We say goodbye to two Potchefstroom Colleagues

At the last staff meeting for 2019, the Potchefstroom Library said goodbye to Mietsie Harman and Zain Claasen.

mietsie_harmanMietsie Harman is retiring at the end of the year.  The following message from Mietsie: Although I am not a dinosaur, I had the privilege to experience the evolution of  libraries from wooden cabinet catalogues with cards to  modern online cataloguing of today.

After completing my degree in 1976 (long before many of you were born),  I started my career in the Acquisitions Section of the Ferdinand Postma Library.  I worked here for two years and completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Library Science part-time.  We then moved to Koster and I became an English Teacher at the Koster Secondary School till the birth of my first baby.  For the next 10 years I stayed at home, bringing up my three kids and then I returned to the Library profession for a temporary job at the Merensky Library (University of Pretoria).  In 1990 we relocated to Zeerust, where I became the Librarian at the then Lehurutshe College of Education.  I worked there for 7 years before returning to Potchefstroom in 1997 to work at the Agricultural College Library.  In 2007 the circle was completed when I returned to the Acquisitions Section of the Ferdinand Postma Library where I have been cataloguing for the past 12 years.

zain-claasenZain Claasen has resigned end of December.  The following message from him: I started working at Loan Services in Jan of 2010. I was appointed as a Clerk, responsible for inter-campus resources sharing, as well as circulations desk duties.  In late 2014, I registered for my Bachelors of Information Science degree, which I had successfully completed in 2018.

My work portfolio changed in 2015 (till current) when I was appointed as Assistant Librarian at Loan Services, where my duties comprised financial administration of our unit, thus working with the processing of lost books, fines cash register etc.  I am grateful for the support received by my fellow circulations staff members and by my Managers, Mr Njabulo Makhathini and Mr Martin Nokoane during my studies, as well as the opportunity granted by the institution to do so.  I have gained a good deal of experience at the Circulations Department over the decade of service, for which I am also thankful.

I will leave the country in Jan 2020, along with my family to start a new life abroad.

Mietsie and Zain, we are going to miss you.  May you both find joy and fulfillment in your different journeys!


LIS Annual Planning Session 2019


Senior LIS staff had a planning session on 6-7 November 2019 at the NWU Business School in Mafikeng.  The main aim of the workshop was the development of a LIS Annual Performance Plan for 2020.  The motivational speaker was Prof Yvonne du Plessis who set the scene for the two days.  She stressed the importance of an inspirational library – not only in terms of inviting spaces, but also in terms of innovative services and a positive staff culture.   Mr Shakes Scott, IT Director: Academic & Office Solutions also attended the workshop and provided valuable input together with Prof Liqhwa Siziba, Senior Lecturer in Academic Literacy, Mafikeng.


On the first day, there was an opportunity for Managers and Directors to reflect on 2019 and to assess the milestones achieved and challenges experienced.  Presentations were delivered on research support, library systems, outreach, projects and quality, Client Services and Shared Services.  Dr Moyo then set the scene for 2020.


On day two, Dr Moyo did a review of the LIS goals and stressed the importance that in our planning, we need to link to the NWU strategic goals and the 2020 NWU Annual Performance Plan.  During a World Café session, highlights for the LIS Annual Performance Plan were identified and developed in terms of objectives, achievement targets, role players and time lines.


During the closing session, Dr Moyo confirmed that goals were also identified to embrace the 4th Industrial Revolution.  We further need to attend to the Ideas Store, as populated by LIS staff.  The new initiatives will add value to what we do.

NWU LIS celebrates Open Access Week 2019

The LIS took part in the international Open Access Week from 21 – 26 October with the theme “Open for whom? Equity in Open Knowledge”. This is an annual global event which entered its tenth year with the aim of advocating and raising awareness of the benefits of open access. Sessions were held at all three campus libraries, and participants from the other campuses were able to connect remotely via Adobe Connect.

The launch of Open Access Week was at Potchefstroom.  The Chief Director: LIS, Dr Mathew Moyo did the welcoming address, where after Prof Nnenesi Kgabi, Director: Research Support, officially opened the Open Access week at NWU.  She elaborated on the state of Open Access in general and particularly at the NWU, and stressed the need for the development of an NWU Open Access Policy.

Launch of Open Access Week at Potchefstroom.  Prof Jako Olivier, Dr Mathew Moyo, Dr Pierre de Villiers, Ms Valencia Wagner and Prof Andries van Aarde.

Dr Piere de Viliers, Managing Director of AOSIS, paved the way for the speakers with a discussion of the current state of Open Access Scholarly Publishing and mentioned the progress and challenges being experienced.  Prof Andries van Aarde, Commissioning Editor: AOSIS Scholarly Books, is well known by NWU researchers who publish with AOSIS.  He discussed the value, opportunities and the role of peer review of Open Access in the Humanities.  Books are valued and recognized as modes of research dissemination in the Humanities, and generates three times more citations than journal articles.  Citations to books take longer to register, but have a longer active citation life.   In line with the theme of Open Access Week 2019 on the equity of open knowledge, the presentation of Prof Jako Olivier, UNESCO Chair on Multimodal Learning and Open Educational Resources at the NWU, was “Towards equity: the language of open knowledge”.  Prof Jako addressed the nature of language as a barrier for open access, including academic language and the hegemony of English in science.  He left us with some ideas on how to broaden the access to scientific information and research by promoting African languages and engage in the Plain Language Movement.  Mrs Valencia Wagner (SADiLaR) gave a live demonstration of CATMA (Computer Assisted Text Markup Analysis) which is a free open source application / tool used to do research on texts. It can be used by literary scholars and students of literary studies as well as by Linguists and Social scientists.

At Mafikeng Campus, the library had two speakers for the day:  Prof Mpine Makoe from UNISA, who is the Commonwealth of Learning Chair for Open Educational Resources (OER), and Prof Simeon Materechera from the NWU’s Centre for Indigenous Knowledge Systems. This was a platform for students, academic and support staff, and also researchers to engage on aspects related to OER and the benefits and challenges of open access for Indigenous Knowledge. Prof. Materechera advised that when it comes to open access to indigenous knowledge, we need to ensure that the knowledge benefits the indigenous communities. Prof Mpine Makoe pointed out that with the massification of higher education, universities have no choice but to embrace OERs for the benefit of the students. The presentations sparked interesting discussions amongst the audience, especially on issues relating to language, particularly within the academic landscape.

Prof. Materechera addressing the audience at Mafikeng Library

The event at Vanderbijlpark Library took place on 23 October 2019.  There were three expert speakers who shared their knowledge.    Prof Andries van Aarde from AOSIS had a discussion on Open Access in the Humanities, and Prof Verona Leendertz and Dr Clarise Mostert discussed how Open Education Resources (OER) are incorporated within a Business Management Module at NWU.  The event was well attended by researchers, postgraduate students and library colleagues, also from other campuses.

Prof Andries van Aarde (Commissioning Editor: AOSIS Scholarly Books)
Dr Clarise Mostert (NWU Economic and Management Sciences, Vanderbijlkpark)

A successful ICIL 2019!


Dear colleagues

The NWU LIS has hosted a successful International Conference on Information Literacy (ICIL) in Vanderbijlpark from 23 – 26 September 2019.  All the months of hard work and preparations have paid off.


Monday morning started with the NWU Vaal Choir welcoming all the guests at the Samancor building.  You could feel the excitement amongst all attendees, especially when the choir accompanied the guests into the auditorium while singing.  Dr Moyo, Chair of the Conference Organizing Committee welcomed everybody.  In his opening remarks, he explained that the conference represented an international co-operative endeavour, with the NWU’s Library and Information Service taking hands with Prof Jako Olivier, the current UNESCO Chair on Multimodal Learning and Open Educational Resources (OER) and the Unit for Academic Literacy in the Faculty of Humanities.


The theme of the conference was: “Information Literacy in all spheres of life”, and delegates included researchers, library and information services professionals, media specialists, academia and policy makers from around the globe.  The conference furthermore had an international line-up of keynote speakers. These speakers included Prof Serap Kurbanoglu (Turkey), Prof Irina Zhilavskaya (Russia), Prof Trudi E Jacobson (USA) and Prof Thomas P Mackey (USA). The national keynote speakers were Prof Bosire Onyancha (UNISA), Prof Karin de Jager (UCT), Prof Ina Fourie (UP) and Prof Jako Olivier (NWU).    A diverse group, 138 delegates from 10 countries, attended the conference and about fifty papers were delivered over the four days.   Some presentations are already available on the ICIL web page: http://library.nwu.ac.za/icil-presentations


Between the hard work, there was time for fun and relaxation.  On Monday evening, attendees were treated at a cocktail function at the Lapa on campus, next to the Vaal River.  Prof Daryl Balia did the official welcoming and guests were entertained with talented singers who are all NWU students.


As Tuesday was National Heritage Day, attendees had the opportunity to wear traditional attire to the gala dinner and traditional dancers welcomed everybody upon arrival.  Prof Jako Olivier was an exceptional and entertaining MC and everybody was in a festive mood.


During the closing ceremony, there was a presention with pictures portraying the highlights of the conference.  You are welcome to access this item with accompanying music by legend Johnny Clegg (The Crossing), at R:\Gebr\Staff photos\ICIL 2019\Closing ceremony.  It takes some time to download.  Go to Slideshow to start the PPT and music (this is only available on the staff intranet).

For a more formal NWU News report by Annette Willemse (NWU Corporate Communication Practitioner), link to:  http://news.nwu.ac.za/icil2019-highlighting-importance-information-literacy-all-spheres-life

The LIS feels proud that we have hosted this conference – the first of its kind in Africa.  According to feedback from attendees, they would like to attend a similar event in the future.

We thank the conference chairs and LIS staff for their hard work!

Our Cataloguers are champions!

IGBIS Workshop 2019

Seven NWU LIS Cataloguers attended the LIASA Interest Group for Bibliographic Standards (IGBIS) workshop at Leriba hotel in Centurion on the 29-30 August 2019.  The keynote speaker, Prof Maria Frahm-Arp set the tone with a core message of the forum with her interesting speech: Implementing 4IR in Libraries: Some lessons learnt.   The theme of the workshop was: The fourth industrial revolution and its relevance to professional information resource description.  The two day workshop provided open forum presentations on the first day and demonstrations and practical exercises on the second day.

Topics that were presented on day one:

  • What does link data mean to libraries on a practical level?
  • Aligning standards between catalogues & repositories: considerations
  • MarcEdit – a case study in automated record creation
  • Burying MARC to give life to BIBFRAME: are cataloguers in Africa ready for the new baby in the court of the 4IR
  • The purpose of work records in FRBR and RDA
  • Shelf packers? Cataloguers in a world of automatic metadata extraction
  • Education of cataloguing and classification in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

On the second day the presenters gave live demonstrations on RDA toolkit and Web Dewey.  Name authority files were also explained.  After the demonstrations Cataloguers grouped themselves for group exercises.  It happened that the NWU Cataloguers found themselves in Group 8, which consisted of seven NWU Cataloguers, a Cataloguer from University of Venda and two Cataloguers from Msunduzi Municipal Library.   In the first exercise, all the groups were given the same monograph to catalogue manually.  They had to rely on their cataloguing experience and memories.  The exercise was complicated as Cataloguers are used to online systems, using MARC fields to structure their records.   Three professional field experts were present to provide feedback on the answers from the groups.   According to them, Group 8 created the best RDA bibliographic record.  We were so proud of our dedicated and dynamic cataloguing group as we were nominated the ‘Cataloguing Champs‘ for the 2019 IGBIS annual event.   It was an honour to be awarded this title by experts in the field, especially because there were many experienced Cataloguers competing.

The Cataloguing Champions

Some of the things that we’ve learnt:

  • Don’t be afraid  to use “cataloguers judgement”;
  • Become more experienced with cataloguing tools such as RDA Toolkit and Classification Web;
  • Don’t try to memorize everything in cataloguing and classification guidelines;
  • Learn more and get useful tips in cataloguing  by subscribing to listservs such as ClassWeb, NACO and PCCLIST;
  • Most importantly don’t be afraid of different cataloguing formats;
  • And ‘Smile’ – because “A smile is a curve that sets everything right” (quoted by Dr. Tienie de Klerk).
Contributions by Cataloguing staff:  Senior Librarian, Benford Rabatseta and Librarians Suzette Janse van Rensburg and Mietsie Harman.

Staff news

james-kolodiJames (Itumeleng) Kolodi from Potchefstroom Library successfully applied for a position as Library Assistant (Client Services) at Mafikeng Library. He will start there on 1 October 2019.

The next message comes from Martin Nokoane, Manager Loan Services (Potchefstroom): “Good colleagues are the kind of people you can rely on, get along with, share a joke or two, and ask for help. James, you’re definitely all of these things. I’m sure your new co-workers will think the same about you as well. Thank you for all the support and goodwill you have shown to us over the years. I wish you the best of luck and continued success wherever you may find yourself!”

Construction has started at Mafikeng Library

The refurbishment at Mafikeng Library has officially started with the site handover on 12 September. During the first phase a Law Library will be established on the first floor. All the Law books in the Lower Ground floor will be relocated to the 1st floor, to make room for the Information Commons. Construction has started and also in the Law Library, we can look forward to additional computer workstations and 3 seminar rooms equipped with LED screens.

Please follow the progress of the refurbishment project at http://library.nwu.ac.za/renovations, – page down for the pictures. A big thank you to Manare and her team for their hard work up till now, and to Benford who is supplying us with the latest pictures.


Benchmarking exercise at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Library

According to the LIS Annual Performance Plan for 2019, a benchmarking exercise was set as a priority.  At a Library Management Meeting (LMC) in April, the CPUT was identified to conduct a benchmarking activity mainly regarding Research support services, Research data management, ICT services and Quality assurance.

LIS staff Siviwe Bangani, Vuyo Ngayeka and Louise Vos had the opportunity to attend CPUT on the 21 – 22 August 2019.

NWU LIS staff welcomed by CPUT library staff:  Dr Elisha Chiware (Director), Ms Janine Lockhart
(Manager Research Support) and Ms Debbie Becker (Manager Quality Assurance).

Research Data Management (RDM) and IR
CPUT uses three open access platforms.  Dspace Cris for CPUT research output and special collections, Dspace for ETD’s and MediaTum and Figshare for data management services.  The Figshare platform is named eSango, an isiXhosa term for gateway.  RDM services at CPUT fall within the ambit of the library’s research support manager and librarian.  The research librarian is also responsible for training researchers to formulate research data management pans.  The RDM policy has not yet been approved.  CPUT Figshare has 55 items at this stage.  Another interesting fact is that CPUT is currently collecting patents of their researchers from Google Patents and adding them to the IR.

From the beginning of 2020, CPUT students will no longer be required to submit print copies, only electronic copies will be accepted.

The overall impression is that, despite the fact that CPUT had a head start when it comes to RDM services, the NWU is at this stage more or less on par with them.  They are however functioning on a high level because they have a complete research support team.

Research Support Services (RSS)
Of interest is the fact that library research support services are centralised in the office of the Library Manager for Research Support who oversees all library research support services and activities at the university.  Apart from the Manager Research Support, the team consists of three other specialists: the IR Librarian, Metadata Librarian and Research Librarian.  The research support team attends Faculty Board meetings with the Faculty Librarian. They have compiled a booklet that succinctly explains all the research support services at the university.

Library Management System
CPUT uses ALMA as its Library Management System.  Servers are cloud-based.  It seems that updates and upgrades are easy to manage – as the upgrades are the company (ExLibris’s) responsibility.  The statistics are quite extensive and easy to generate.  It appears that ALMA has more capabilities to generate reports than Sierra.  Maybe we have not yet used Sierra to an extent that it gives the same extensive reports.  We need to investigate.

Quality matters
CHELSA statistics database
The CHELSA statistics database allows for the input and retrieval of statistical data on a monthly or annual basis and provides a central source for library statistics.  Debbie Becker, CPUT Manager Quality Assurance initially developed the structure of this database for use within CPUT libraries. CHELSA has agreed that all academic libraries will use this database for the input of annual library data listed by CHELSA.  Each Institution has full access to CHELSA-level data (for both input and viewing of reports) as well as the option of using the Institution-level database for capturing of their own internal statistics.  This option eases the reporting of any library statistical data.

Currently the Senior Librarian Electronic Resources is our library’s Institutional Administrator and uses this database for reporting on CHELSA level, also to access certain statistical information.  It is however necessary to expand and give more staff the option to report on all statistics being generated in the libraries.  The reporting of NWU library statistics are not yet aligned, this is a major issue when creating reports.

Debbie is the Global Administrator of this database, and is willing to assist us in the setup of a database on Institutional level.

Onboarding documents for new staff and student assistants
CPUT Library makes use of documents to ensure that all new staff and student assistants receive the same attention and assistance to settle in.

Other matters worth noting
Train the Trainer
The completion of a Train the Trainer Course is compulsory for all Faculty Librarians. This is offered as an accredited short course by the CPUT Graduate Centre for Management over six months (only six days contact time).

Library Spaces and Ergonomics
The CPUT Library is in the same position as many other university libraries.  They need to create new, or repurpose current spaces to stay in touch with changing user needs.  They could manage to create a small research commons – a bigger one is in planning stage.  The learning commons is welcoming and is being used extensively.  They have just established a 24 hr study area.

They are concerned about staff health in the working environment and consulted an Ergonomics Specialist who recommended, where necessary, chairs with back support, ergonomic desks and footrests.


We also had the opportunity to meet our former colleague, Kabelo Kakole, now working at CPUT Library:


This was a fruitful exercise where we did not only have the opportunity to learn, but also to share.  The full benchmarking report will be supplied to the LMC.

Article written by: Louise Vos, Siviwe Bangani and Vuyo Ngayeka

The Libraries are buzzing with activity

August is traditionally known as a very busy month on the academic calender, and all NWU libraries can testify to that. For the past two weeks, the Ferdinand Postma Library has received at least 5000 visitors daily. The visits for Wednesday 14 August were 5703. The collaborative spaces are filled to capacity, therefore group discussions flow over to open areas – where the noise levels are quite high.

The LIS has managed to create a social welcoming environment that supports the diverse needs of all learners. However, to balance the demands for quiet study space and collaborative, conversational space is an ongoing challenge in academic libraries worldwide.

Have a look at some pictures taken during this week. The Amazing Race amongst first year Law students contributed the fact that the library was buzzing!!!


Resignation – Zine Sapula

zine-sapula.pngWe say goodbye to Zine Sapula, Librarian: Research Support.  She accepted a position at the University of Mpumalanga and will start there in September.

Coming from Stellenbosch Library, Zine was appointed as Faculty Librarian: Education Sciences (Potchefstroom) in June 2014.  In June 2016 she was appointed as Librarian: Research Support. The loss of her skills and expertise will leave a void in the Information Services Section.  We are going to miss her positive attitude and willingness to learn and share knowledge with other colleagues.

Zine, we wish you all the best and hope to see you soaring in the Library & Information Service community.