Library IT Network Enhancement Workshop

Since the introduction of technology in libraries, the academic libraries have evolved and adapted to the drastic technological change. It is not a secret that academic libraries have long enjoyed their status as “the heart of a university”. Furthermore, employers view higher education institutions as producers of a commodity – student learning. Sabinet in collaboration with TENET have been the host to an insightful workshop that looks to share ideas with Library IT staff on issues to do with absorbing and strengthening current paradigms including Institutional Repositories (IR), Research Data Management (RDM), Digital Curation and Management (DCM) ensuring that our future leaders have stress-free access to digital materials.

On the 29-31 August a Library IT Network event was held at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park of which three NWU employees attended the event. This event focused on a number of IT issues in the libraries even though the main focus was on the above mentioned subject i.e. IR, RDM and DCM.

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On the 29th at 18h00 it was the opening of the event by Mr Geoff Hoy from TENET who shared an insightful experience on the topic “What’s up at the library”. Even though he is not a librarian, he shared an informative experience on how technology has become a major drive behind many library services and convenient it is to use technological devices to reach out to remote library clients.

On the 30th the event opened with Dr Leti Kleyn sharing the University of Pretoria’s experience with regards to DSpace: an operational overview.  Some of the issues that were covered addressed some technical challenges on DSpace and that there might be a need to explore other options. Johannes Cronje from CPUT followed on a topic “Why I do not use the library”. The presentation was delivered remotely from the comfort of his office via VidyoDesktop (a video conference app.). The topic seemed contradictory to the content of the presentation because the presenter instead of objecting, he just confirmed how he easily access the library services remotely sitting at his desk, which moved a number of librarians in the audience which also proves how advanced the Library IT has gone. The library environment is now so sophisticated that one can receive services remotely e.g. Theses, Journals, eBooks, renewal of material, updates about the happenings in the library etc. (The joy of Library IT usage).

Closing the day on the 30th it was an UnConferencing session where a number of issues were covered and one that commonly stood out was the experience and challenges that most of the Universities encounter when working on the IR. Due to technical challenges faced on the IR, a consortium was proposed but concerns were raised like, Institutions being on different IR softwares and versions; budget issues to sponsor the consortium and events to share challenges and experiences over a certain milestone; and of cause the biggest challenge also discussed was a lack IR (DSpace) experts in the country to support the institutions. However, this matter will still be looked at to come with a beneficial solution to all participating institutions in this event.

The event proved how technology has shaped a number of things especially in the Library environment that, instead of using card catalogues we now use integrated online catalogue, you can renew your own books online other than walking to the library building, access to University Theses and Dissertations is made available online too, journals, eBooks etc., making room reservations and computers bookings, all of that is done by one click and the library will be there. The focus on IR, RDM and DCM is significantly making waves in empowering academic institutions to move towards best practices in creating a trusted IR, managing research data and digitally curating and managing digital content.

Reported by: Kabelo Kakole, Sabelo Chizwina & Vuyo Ngayeka

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