Long live African languages!

Are African languages dead? Long live African languages! This was the theme of a panel discussion that was organised in commemoration of International Mother Language Day, as well as Black History Month. The library had the privilege of collaborating with the Bokamoso literature club in hosting this event on the 20th of February 2020. The NWU community did not disappoint and came in numbers, both staff and students filled the venue to capacity which indicated to the organisers the need and interest of such gatherings and discussions. The four distinguished panelists that were invited were:

  • Dr Eileen Pooe: NWU Setswana department
  • Mr Siviwe Bangani: NWU LIS
  • Ms Thulisile bhuda: NWU PhD candidate, IKS
  • Mr Sello Tatai: Maftown book club founder


The programme opened with a poetry delivery from the renowned author and poet, Ms Lerato Mileng. Her poem, performed in Setwana, accompanied by Djembe Drums set a powerful tone on reclaiming heritage.

The preparation and expertise of the panel was unparalleled. Each panelist was provided with a question prior to the event which they prepared for and it was used to open the discussion. The panelist questions were set as follow:

  • Dr Pooe: What is the significance of writing in African languages in a contemporary society?
  • Mr Bangani: What roles do libraries play in the development of African languages?
  • Ms Bhuda: How do African languages relate to IKS?
  • Mr Tatai: What do you see as the role of book clubs in the promotion of African authors and literature?

After each panelist answered their question, the Q & A session took place. The room resonated with excitement as guests were given the opportunity to direct their questions to the panel, which the panel received and responded to with the same energy. The programme ended at 13:00 with a poetry delivery from Ms Evangelist Mazibuko, a member of the Bokamoso literature club and light lunch was served.


This event is one of many ways in which the library is attempting to stay visible, relevant and be a dynamic and integral part of the NWU community, as well as the communities in which they exist. Collaborations with various organisations from both within and outside the university walls ensures that the LIS remains part of the conversations that are continuously taking place within the country and the globe, thus standing a better chance of being part of the solution, and also fulfil the LIS vision of being a leading university library in Africa and beyond.


Article written by: Boitumelo Masilo, Faculty Librarian


World Read Aloud Day


The NWU LIS Mafikeng campus in collaboration with Bokamoso Literature Club took part in World Read Aloud Day on the 5th of February 2020 at Solid Foundation Day Care Centre.

This is an annual celebration where reading takes centre stage in enhancing the awareness and importance of reading in a global context. This activity by the library takes cognizance of the mandate initiated by the Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) to start and promote reading circles/book clubs in the province. The NWU librarians along with Bokamoso Literature Club members joined in the celebration by reading story books to the children. This movement raised the visibility of the LIS not only institutionally, but also embed the library in the community. This milestone enhanced community engagement initiatives by the LIS.

Staff members and children from the Day Care Centre appreciated the gesture and are looking forward to having the NWU LIS members again in future.



International Association of University Libraries (IATUL) Conference  23 – 27 June 2019


iatul-1.jpgReport by Siviwe Bangani, Manager Information Services (Mahikeng)

On 23 to 27 June 2019, I attended the IATUL conference co-hosted by the University of Western Australia (UWA) and Curtin University in Perth, Australia. The theme of the conference was “shifting sands and rising tides – leading libraries through Innovation”. The sub-themes included library spaces, information and digital literacy, FAIR principles, next generation information discovery, and library value and analytics. The 4th Industrial Revolution and its ramifications for the academic libraries was well captured in many papers in this conference.

Prof. Dawn Freshwater of UWA opened the conference and reminded the delegates of the important role that librarians play in the research eco-system as spiritual and intellectual custodians of knowledge and knowledge spaces. Professor Seongcheol Kim of Korea University talked about how, as the director of the library in Korea University, they managed to transform the library through social innovation.  The Professor advised that due to the large number of students with mobile phones, mobile should be the first consideration in all academic libraries. Libraries should build spaces that create social value for the library. Among other innovations at the Korea Library is an open library. Books are placed on shelves in strategic spaces around campus and students can take the books and use them any time with no control by the library or librarians. Famous authors are also invited to talk about books to students. There are also poster sessions held inside the library.

Gerald Beasley of Cornell University Library pointed out that some users come to the library to use it as a resource while some come to take refuge from the world of misinformation. Not every university needs a great library but every university needs an innovative library. As such academic libraries should support risk and experimentation by staff. They should always be responsive to the needs of the communities they serve.

On Tuesday, 25 June 2019, I presented a paper co-authored with Dr Mathew Moyo and Dina Mashiyane on the utilisation of library spaces by postgraduate students at NWU in a session chaired by Ms Lucille Webster (Secretary of IATUL and Director at the Durban University of Technology Libraries). The engagements with attendees after the presentation helped us to identify weaknesses of the paper and strengthen it further. This paper has since been sent to an international journal for consideration for publication.

Another interesting contribution was Ms Margie Jantti, director of libraries at the University of Wollongong in Australia. Ms Jantti presented a Council of Australian University Librarians’ report about the role of academic libraries in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). What was more interesting about this presentation is that the Australians have managed to identify the role of academic libraries on all SDGs. IATUL conferences are also famous for their study tours.

iatul-2.pngOn Wednesday, 26 June 2019, we went to a study tour around Perth. I selected a study tour that involved Australian wildlife, indigenous art and bush braai. For the first time in my life I tasted kangaroo meat. We were also able to take some pictures with Australian wildlife.

ROI for NWU and LIASA from this conference

 I approached Ms Jantti to find out if she would be willing to present a webinar for the LIASA Higher Education Interest Group members on the role of SDGs in academic libraries to which she agreed. This successful webinar happened on 31 July 2019 and it was attended by over 30 individuals. The paper presented at this conference is currently under review by an international journal. I have already sounded colleagues about the possibility of us having poster sessions in the library.

LIS outreach on Mandela Day

mandela-day-2019Celebrating Mandela Day is a standing tradition at NWU LIS, and this year was no exception.  The three campus libraries commemorated Mandela Day in different ways in reaching out to nearby communities.

Mafikeng Library donated school shoes at Masutlhe 1 Primary School

Mafikeng library commemorated Mandela Day by buying 10 new pairs of school shoes for selected children at Masutlhe 1 Primary School. The idea of buying shoes came about when the NWU LIS offered all three of its campuses R1000 for Mandela Day activities. Mr Siviwe Bangani, 2018 Librarian of the Year  (LoY) topped the amount given to Mafikeng Campus with R1000 from the LoY award. A primary school was identified with the assistance of Dr Lefenya-Motshegare from the NWU Law Faculty, wife of the chief of the Masutlhe Village, Kgosi Motshegare. The primary school is at Masutlhe 1 – a remote village outside Mafikeng. The school identified 10 children who would benefit greatly from this initiative and provided the shoe sizes of the children. Dr Lefenya-Motshegare also bought a complete school uniform out of her own pocket for a child who lost all his clothes after his house burned a few days before the Mandela Day.

The handing out of the shoes was done in a ceremony organised at the primary school by the royal house to celebrate Mandela Day. This event was a true reflection of the legacy and life lessons of Tata Nelson Mandela. The spirit of ubuntu, selflessness, giving, and promoting educational values espoused by Tata Mandela were at play. There were presentations by speakers from various critical government entities creating an awareness of the issues that affect the community and the services that are available, as well as locations and contact numbers of places of help. The Department of Health, SAPS, NWU Community Law Clinic, Department of Economic Development, NWU LIS and the community were all represented. Councillor T Motshabi who represents the community in Local Government also attended.  It is through initiatives such as these that the NWU LIS is reaching out to communities and demonstrating that librarians are indeed agents of positive social change.


Potchefstroom library decided Charity begins at home

Potchefstroom LIS staff members celebrated a very successful Mandela Day by reaching out to the Campus Protection Services with the theme: Charity begins at home.  Protection Services is one of our main stakeholders as they take care of us on a daily basis by providing protection to both our assets and ourselves.  The staff are always willing and friendly to assist when needed.  They are working night shifts and long hours in the cold.   The LIS donated gloves, scarves and beanies to keep them warm – all items reflected a message that the Library cares  (picture).   Donated items were received by Mr Des Ayob, Director of Protection Services and some of his senior staff members.  Mr Ayob conveyed his appreciation and gratitude.  He mentioned that it’s the first time that colleagues of the NWU reach out to Protection Services in this manner.  It was a privilege for library staff to be involved in this project – it gave us an opportunity to give back to the people who are serving us.


Vanderbijlpark reached out to Kopanong Hospital

Vanderbijlpark library staff decided to reach out to the Outpatient Department and Ithemba Section at Kopanong Hospital in Vereeniging.  Staff members worked together and prepared lunch bags containing sandwiches and fruit.   More than 100 lunch boxes were distributed amongst waiting patients and their family. The patients were very thrilled and thankful for the food, the majority of them indicated that they were there for many hours – not being able nor having anything to eat.  The library staff felt afterwards that it was a fulfilling experience to reach out and to make a difference, especially in the lives of vulnerable people.


Siviwe Bangani, Boitumelo Masilo, Martin Nokoane, Louise Vos and Thoko Tswaile.

Benchmarking visit to the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) 3 May 2019

The visit to Wits weaved a golden thread into a transformative and innovative dialogue that resulted to a flow of ideas that brought about building collective meaning and a growing sense of enriching unity. The visit was a joint effort between the Library and Information Service (LIS) and the Disabilities Rights Units (DRU) to benchmark services, infrastructure and resources for students with disabilities. In the context of the project goals, Transformation is interpreted to be the change in thinking, change in practice, change in behaviour, change in engagements with the objective of nurturing a culture of innovation for a vibrant and better individual and contributor to community, national and global imperatives. The library as the epicentre of knowledge production and innovation must stimulate transformation for an improved quality of life.

Objectives of the visit

The White Paper emphasises the importance of institutional collaborations and partnerships as a means to achieve a range of social, educational/ academic, economic and political goals (National Higher Education Plan, 1997 and White Paper 2002). It was also in the spirit of libraries working together to achieve a common goal that staff members undertook the trip.

Left to right:
Vida Mutlaneng – Manager DRU (MC), Erika Rood – Info. Services Manager (PC), Tiny Moripa – Loan Services Manager (VC), Martie Esterhuizen – Info. Services Manager (VC), Sam Andrews – Adaptive Technologist, DRU (Wits), Tsholofelo Thulare – NW Project Coordinator, Hendra Pretorius – Director: Client Services, Neli Kaunda – Director: Shared LIS Services, Gloria Ramaboea – Librarian: Information Commons (PC) and Dr Anlia Pretorius – Head DRU (Wits)
  • To continue to address students with disabilities access and challenges.
  • To benchmark on resources and services to support students with disabilities.
  • To seek opportunities to share expertise and knowledge as outlined in the Service Level Agreement (SLA) between NWU, the South African Library for the Blind (SALB) and the Department of Arts and Traditional Affairs (CATA) North-West (NW) Provincial Library, Information and Archives Services.

Amongst the objectives of the tripartite partnership is to: 

  • Render support and extend some of the existing services of the North-West Province Community Libraries at the North-West University;
  • Establish and strengthen strong public-private partnership through information sharing and knowledge transfer;
  • Set up Information Hubs in the most accessible libraries.

Facilities at Wits DRU and library are modern and addresses learning and research needs of students with disabilities. Ten Accessibility Golden Rules and Universal design principles were integrated throughout the design process of their facilities. These principles are applied in various ways in different practices (Architecture, finding directions, product design and web/interface design) but the fundamentals are the same. Click to read more:


Pictures below depict the following: Universal designs that are all at arm level, electrical switches, door handles, etc. Smoke dictators that flash when the alarm goes off. These are very useful especially for deaf students. Signage that is clearly marked and visible inside and outside buildings, such as at the library entrance and lobby:


The biggest percentage of recorded disabilities is the students with learning disabilities. Amongst others is the big three disabilities, hearing, sight and mobility. The DRU advocates for greater mobility on campus. There is strong liaison with the library especially on copyright matters. The library purchases an e-book of every printed copy. This is based on availability of e-copies from suppliers. E-books are easily converted to audio format.

The Warternweiler library, which is the main library has dedicated integrated Disabilities Section on the ground floor. Plans are underway to renovate the library building and have the Disabilities facilities integrated in all floors of the library. The project will commence later in the year.

The capacity of computers and assistive devices were increased since 2018 through external funding in order to cater for the increasing number of students with disabilities registering with DRU.  Wits’ learning spaces are flexible, student-centred and accessible to diverse students, and include the provision of appropriate technologies to enhance learning and teaching. The launch of the Digital Learning Spaces Programme introduced two new learning concepts to the Wits community – Learning Innovation Centres and Smart Classrooms. The main aim of this programme is to enable academics to use blended learning approaches in their teaching and aid in the improvement of students’ success, with the focus on quality through effective structures. NWU and Wits will promote and foster collaboration between the institutions and looks forward to maintaining partnership both within and outside of the university community. Dr Anlia Pretorius and Mr Sam Andrews are involved in the planning and facilitation of the CATA Librarians’ workshop on 10 July 2019 at the NWU Mahikeng Library and Information Service.


Author workshop for researchers


The Mafikeng Library hosted an author workshop for researchers on 3 May 2019. The workshop was hosted in the library conference room and was facilitated by Emerald Group Publishing and WWIS (on behalf of Web of Science). The presenters were Mr Sibu Zondi (Emerald) and Ms Zanele Magoba-Nomvete (WWIS). The purpose of the workshop was to share knowledge of publishing with emerging researchers. Among the areas covered were the publishing process, ethics of publishing, choosing a journal to publish, the importance of publishing in quality journals, bibliometrics, EndNote online as well as the impact of research. The workshop was well attended and interaction of NWU researchers were quiet impressive. The researchers commended the library for hosting such workshops and requested more workshops of this nature in the future.

Glenda Makate
Senior Librarian: Information Services (Mahikeng)

LIS Indaba 2018 – 1 & 2 November


Senior staff of the NWU Library and Information Service gathered recently at the Botanical Gardens in Potchefstroom, for a two day Indaba.  The purpose was to reflect on 2018 and plan for 2019 in the context of the University’s direction and the LIS vision, mission and the six strategic goals.

prof-ronnie-lotriet.pngProf Ronnie Lotriet,  MBA Program Manager at the NWU Business School, set the scene with a session:  Effective strategic management going forward.  He stressed the need for the LIS to focus on services that can make a meaningful impact on the core business of the university.  We need to move services closer to user communities (Faculties) and become even more visible as an integrated support team in connection with stakeholders.  We need to tell what is unique about us, get regular feedback from users and tap into collective wisdom of staff.

We need to raise the bar with the following practices:

  • build trust, have honest conversations about challenges
  • don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good – some evidence is better than no evidence
  • asking the right questions is more important than having the right answers
  • persistence and repetition are key to changing behavior
  • celebrate or reward success

Some derailers in the process can be:  overly critical of others, negativity and inflexibility.

He recommended that we need to do a brainstorming session and do a SWOT analysis to determine our Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (the previous SWOT analysis was only done in 2015 before restructuring).  This analysis will inform our strategy going forward. He emphasised that a strategic plan paints the bigger picture – it’s a directional document which should last 3-5 years.  It should be complemented by an operational plan which focuses on shorter term goals, ranging from 3 to 12 months detailing who should do what, why, how, by when. He congratulated the LIS with progress up to now, and for the initiative to have this session.

Representatives of People and Culture gave informative sessions on Performance Management and Staff Development, followed by a productive question and answer session.

Also on the first day, there was an opportunity to reflect on 2018 regarding Research Support, Library Systems, Client Services, Shared Services, Outreach, Projects and Quality.  In these reflections there were opportunities to feature highlights as well as challenges experienced during the year.


The 2nd day was all about planning.  Dr Moyo indicated that we need to be aware of what is trending in the LIS environment:

  • community involvement
  • we need to focus on all user groups
  • reinvent library spaces and services (with mentioning of coming technology commons in all libraries)
  • we need to know more about library users
  • create an image of the library (challenge wrong perceptions)
  • focus on emerging technologies (makerspaces, self-service and social media)

With the challenge to deliver action plans for 2019, there was an opportunity for group discussions where after representatives focused on activities within the strategic goals which need to be addressed.  This will form part of the LIS Annual Plan for 2019. The draft LIS plan which was developed, was the main outcome of the Indaba.


Scopus Academy – University of Cape Town 8 October 2018


Three LIS staff members: Ishe Muzvondiwa, Glenda Makate and Danny Moloto who attended the LIASA Conference, also had the opportunity to be part of the first Scopus Academy, presented at the University of Cape Town on 8 October.  The Academy aims to elevate the skills of librarians and research support professionals who support research grant and rating applications, research information management and journal evaluation.

The SA Scopus Academy was the first of its kind in South Africa and Africa as a whole.  Mrs Joyce Olivier (Director of Research NRF) remarked that it was a historic and ground-breaking event on African soil. She stressed the need to involve and incorporate the Research Offices of different academic institutions in the next Scopus Academy. The majority of the attendees were librarians.  She described the peer review process, the concept of benchmarking, NRF rating as well as the NRF’s publication practices.

logo-scopus.pngAttention was given to Scopus author profiles – document counts, citation analysis, h-index and author profile corrections.  As the NRF requires an ORCID iD when submitting funded research outputs, librarians were encouraged to assist researchers to register for ORCID and integrate the researcher’s ORCID with their Scopus Author ID.  With just a few steps, all their publications will be added to their ORCID profile.


Heritage Day 24 September 2018

The NWU libraries recently celebrated Heritage Day.  Mahikeng library staff members dressed up in their traditional attires that showcased the diversity in the library. There was a presentation of different types of food, song, dance and play that represented different cultures in the library. Closing off the activities of the day was a Setswana dance performance by the NWU Cultural Dance Group. These festivities were in line with the national theme: ‘Reclaiming, restoring and celebrating our living heritage’.  There was a display of various artefacts from different cultural groups in the library foyer, accompanied by the library banner to represent unity of the diverse people in the library.  Faculty members from the Setswana Department were also invited to celebrate along with the library staff members.

In the spirit of Heritage Day, Potchefstroom Information Services staff wore African head wraps during the whole week, acknowledging the cultural wealth of our nation.  There was also a book exhibition with titles displaying our rich and diverse heritage.


National Book Week (3 – 9 September 2018) & International Literacy Day (8 September 2018)

National Book Week is a reading promotion campaign that was initiated by the South African Book Development Council (SABDC) in partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture.

International Literacy Day is an initiative of the United Nations to create awareness of literacy challenges across the globe.  The issue of literacy is a key component of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and created a highlight for National Book Week this year.

NWU Library & Information Services created awareness and promoted reading with exhibitions in the libraries of fiction and children’s books from our collections. Some fun events also took place.


The NWU Mahikeng Library had a colourful display of the children’s collection to commemorate national book week and international literacy day. There was an interactive activity where patrons used colouring pens to colour  the pictures on display; and a slideshow on the library monitor encouraging users to check out children’s books and read to children, the hashtag from the national book week theme,  #ourstories, was used. There was great participation from the users on the colouring activity as well as the children’s collection. We had a visit from Dr Wessels and Dr Erasmus, senior lecturers from the department of Education: foundation phase, they were very impressed and expressed heartfelt gratitude for the much needed and relevant collection, as well as the display.



An exhibition of fiction books and children’s books was set up on the ground floor of the Ferdinand Postma Library for National Book Week. International literacy day was celebrated on Friday, 7 September.  Library patrons took part in an activity, Expand your vocabulary, during which they could win small prizes.  This created a lot of excitement.



During National Book Week, VC Library patrons, were startled by the quaint appearance of *Bibliophile* the Library bookworm. *Bibliophile * believes that books have the power to teach, inspire, and connect people. *Bibliophile * encouraged the patrons to read a book, or at least a magazine or newspaper during National Book Week. They were reminded that books and stories are part of the wealth and culture of communities.

*Bibliophile * were accompanied by little squirmy wormy book ambassadors, scattering short messages or quotes on books and reading. The little squirmy wormy book ambassadors, jibed the Library patrons (tongue-in-cheek), that the best safeguard against collection infestation, is good reading habits. They absolutely love the starch components in book cloth, and would easily create tunnels and holes, whilst grazing through underutilized Library books.

Library patrons committing themselves to the pledge #READ during National Book Week, each received an edible little squirmy wormy ambassador (80), from *Bibliophile * guardian, Louise Harmse.

Many students also grasped the opportunity to take a picture with *Bibliophile *.