SANLiC Conference 2021

A number of LIS staff had the opportunity to attend the recent virtual SANLiC Conference, #SANLIC2021. The advantage of virtual attendance was that about 330 attendees, national and international, could attend this year. Physical attendance of the conference amounted to only about 150 attendees in the past.

The primary objective of this conference was to provide a platform for the exchange of ideas and information in support of scholarly electronic resource management among member institutions.

Keynote speaker

On day one, Prof Tawana Kupe, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria was the keynote speaker. In his presentation about sustainability in the Higher Education Sector, he mentioned that Universities face a threat in this age of ongoing disruptions. It does not have to be so, as opportunities beckon of universities to re-imagine themselves as drivers of impactful and transformative change. Attendees reacted very positively to his statement that Academic libraries are among the unsung heroes of the pandemic.

Prof Tawana Kupe

Exploring digital disruption (COVID-19)

As the first few presentations focused on understanding the impact of COVID-19, some highlights of these presentations will be shared.

Mr Abdullah Verachia, a Golbal Future Strategist from the Gordon Institute of Business Science, delivered an interesting presentation on the post pandemic bloom – how will the next 10 years be impacted by the events of today; how will the future of work look like; and what does adaptibility look like in a post COVID world?

He concluded with this slide on what Covid had taught him:

Two Years, two disasters was the title of a presentation by two staff members of Cape Town University Libraries – Jillian Clark & Caroline Dean. They first focused on the unanticipated outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and the switch from physical to virtual operations. The shift to virtual resulted in a greater demand for access to online material.

Then, in April 2021, UCT was rocked by a second disaster: the fire that destroyed the Jagger Library’s African Studies Collection. The presentation focused on the work done by the Acquisitions Department in response to two disasters and the responsive and supportive role that the publishers and vendors played through generous remote access to databases, journals and e-books. Caroline Dean ended the presentation with what they’ve learnt during the disasters – BE KIND to one another.

Prof Ruth Hoskins (UKZN) discussed the influence of COVID-19 in meeting library users’ online information needs. Many academic libraries had to embrace the concept of the digital library and the adoption of Library 2.0 tools to support the information needs of their users. She focused on the challenges of providing a remote online service and the accessibility of online resources for users, and also strategies to improve service delivery.

There was ample time for lively discussions, and attendees had access to a comment box where they could share their opinions or chat with one another.

Full conference programme at

In total, there were 27 presentations on the following themes:

  • Exploring digital disruption (COVID-19)
  • Informing, measuring and demonstrating value
  • Building trusted relationships
  • Open scholarship and the library
  • Tools, skills & competencies for e-resource librarians.

Please have a look at the conference programme. The complete presentations are available on the conference web page – unfortunately only to staff members who attended. But you are most welcome to contact Carine or me, should you be interested in some of the topics.

Virtual attendance

Joining this conference was very exciting and showed that virtual attendance can be meaningful and has great advantages in terms of accessibility, ease of attending and no cost attached in terms of travel or accommodation. The only downside is that it lacks the intimacy of a physical gathering, and also the networking opportunities. It seems however, that virtual events are going to dictate the conference landscape in the unforeseeable future.

Our exhibition was the winner!
Like with real conferences, universities and vendors had the opportunity to have exhibitions – but this time in the form of a virtual stand. The LIS took the opportunity to make our library visible, but especially to create awareness about the International Conference on Information Literacy (ICIL) that we will be hosting in 2022. Much to our surprise, our exhibition was voted number one by the organizers! The banner in the stand linked to the ICIL 2022 web page.

Thank you to our webmaster, Elize van Eldik for her assistance in creating this web page within a short time frame. On the stand, there was also room to portray our brochures for the different user groups, and we added the

I believe all staff members enjoyed this conference, as it was well organized, stimulating and has given us food for thought.


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