About 10 of the NWU Library Services staff members attended this very informative conference at the University of Johannesburg.
20 September 2016: the focus was on IT in African libraries, coping with shrinking budgets and reinvention and decolonisation of African libraries. Colin Carter argues that technology is an important driver of user expectations. In turn, libraries are driven by user expectations and 21st century users expect their libraries to provide “just-in-time” information wherever they are. Through using technology like “MyLibrary App”, users can access the library wherever they are. Glen Truran (SANLiC) talked about declining library budgets. He highlighted that academic libraries in South Africa have had their budgets slashed in real terms. This has resulted in the cancellation of journals in the past few years. Some of his suggestions for dealing with declining budgets are: elimination of print spent on journals, use of agents only when benefits of their involvement justify 5% saving, using usage statistics to request for more budget from the authorities, and benchmarking with other similar institutions.
21 September 2016: papers and discussions were about next generation librarianship in African libraries, the research support agenda and a show and tell session where valuable ideas were shared amongst academic librarians. Ms Natalia Molebatsi talked about usage of the online campus radio at UNISA to promote library services. She argues that radio may help bridge the gap between the oral heritage of African users and the library. In fact Madireng Jane Monyela argues that the libraries themselves should play some background classical music in their entrances and some study rooms to accommodate users who prefer music while studying. Another interesting idea was that of a virtual book expo organised by UJ in the past two years.
The guest speakers on the consecutive days entertained and invigorated delegates with information on Strategic Scenarios (Clem Sunter) and the Power of the Mind (Robin Banks).
The opportunity to share experiences and solutions with colleagues in academic libraries across the country was priceless and the professional way in which the team of UJ Library staff organised the conference and treated delegates was inspiring.
Article written by Erika Rood and Siviwe Bangani