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

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