Erika Rood, Manager: Information Services Potchefstroom had the opportunity to attend the Annual Digital Humanities Conference 2017 at the McGill University in Montrèal, Canada. The NWU Research Unit for Languages and Literature in the South African Context provided funding and some of their staff joined her in attending the conference. The conference was attended by delegates from different disciplines including researchers, lecturers, students, librarians, archivists, computer scientists, statisticians and academic administrators.
DHASA (Digital Humanities Association of Southern Africa) also joined the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO) during this conference.
The program included 17 workshops, about 100 sessions, 2 poster sessions with more than 100 posters and during lunch Special Interest Group meetings (eg. DH and Libraries).
Some of the issues discussed were privacy, visualisation software, decolonization and DH methodologies and projects. The closing keynote address delivered by Elizabeth Guffey aptly examined issues of disability and access -Access being the theme of DH2017.
The insight gained from attending this conference will add to the growing interest and knowledge needed to support Digital Humanities Initiatives at the NWU.
The biennial conference hosted by SANLiC (South African Library & Information Consortium) was attended by 4 Staff members of the NWU Library and Information Services.
The theme of the conference was: Disruption in the Library, the Laboratory, the Classroom. The focus of the conference was on how the Open Access movement is gaining momentum over the subscription model as the benefits to society of opening access to research outputs and educational materials become increasingly self-evident. Increasingly, research and academic institutions, either by choice or force of circumstance, are walking away from publisher deals based on the subscription model.
Against this backdrop, the South African higher education sector is in crisis and disruption. The conference assisted library and information practitioners in making sense of developments, honing skills and developing strategies to deal with the disruption.
Presentations were given on the advancement of the Open Access movement, licensing and negotiation principles, and knowing and evaluating the library’s electronic collection.
More than 30 vendors and publishers had exhibitions and some presentations were given on developments being done by them. The conference was therefore also geared to networking with publishers and vendors.
A pre-conference workshop was also attended by Dr Mathew Moyo (Senior Director: Library and Information Services), Prof Lucas Venter (Director: Institutional Office of Research Support) and Mrs Anelda van der Walt (NWU eResearch Initiative). This was a closed workshop for directors and research decision makers. The title of the workshop was: OA2020 – initiative for the large-scale transformation of the subscription system (Leveraging the power of institutional budgets and research outputs to secure the economic benefits of Open Access)
The social highlight of the conference was the gala dinner where the guest speaker was Dr Adriana Marais. Adriana is a quantum biophysicist and is best known as one of the 100 Mars One Project astronaut candidates in the running to move to the red planet in 2026. She shared some insights as a researcher and inspired delegates and reminded the conference why, despite the disruption, it is an exciting time in the four billion year history of life on Earth to be alive!
The annual Innovative User Group (IUG) conference was held in Maryland USA from the 2nd to the 5th of April 2017. This conference brings together users of Innovative Interfaces (a vendor for specialist Library Management systems) to share and learn from each other through presentations, Birds of a feather sessions and personal networking. During the conference staff from Innovative also present on what is current and future developments for their Library systems while interacting with users of their systems on ground level.
At this – the 25th IUG conference – as many as 12 concurrent sessions covering different modules and topics related to the Innovative systems were presented, and attendees could choose sessions based on their interests. The systems administrator for the NWU Library Services attended the conference and focused mainly on the areas of system development and administration.
The conference had a total attendance of more than 800 library professionals from 16 countries with more than 160 sessions.
Zine Sapula, of the North-West University Libraries (Potchefstroom Campus), attended the Sci- GaIA: Festival of Open Science’s User forum & Final Event on 24 March 2017. Sci-GaIA is an EU Horizon 2020 funded project that focuses on and advocates the development of Open Science e-infrastructure on the African continent. The conference attendees consisted of a diverse group of individuals from various fields of expertise and backgrounds, all of whom share a passion for Open Science. NWU was represented in numbers by researchers and students, especially from the Vaal Triangle Campus.
Speakers’ presentations included progress reports on what Sci- GaIA e-infrastructures projects have thus far been developed in Africa, for example the Sci- GaIA Open Science platform which can be accessed by all participating institutions via a federated authentication process. The platform allows users from registered organisations to re-produce, re-use and publish their research and link it to their researcher’s ORCID ID. E-infrastructures projects that are currently in the pipeline for several African countries, and the challenges they face in implementing Open Science initiatives, were also discussed.
South Africa’s commitment to Open Science was also evident, as can be seen by the number of Open Science projects, such as SA Identity Federation (SAFIRE) and the African Research Cloud (ARC) (of which NWU is a founding member). Dr Anwar Vahed presented an overview of the Data Intensive Research Initiative of South Africa (DIRISA), which is a national platform that currently provides researchers with Data Management Plans. DIRISA, at this stage, is developing a Data Deposit tool which will in future enable researchers to store their data. However, researchers using DIRISA will be required to offer open access to their data for re-use by other researchers. Another South African initiative, funded by NRF, is in the pipeline. Known as the African Open Science Platform, the initiative is managed by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and its aim will be to promote the value of Open Data for communities.
Significantly, the conference presentations (see slides) further detailed how African research communities can use Open Source technologies and Open Science platforms to distribute their research and engage with the wider science community. The benefits of opening up research were outlined as follows:
Communities will benefit by accessing and re-using the data.
Will connect researchers and facilitate collaboration.
The research output, or data, will potentially receive more citations.
Every year institutions that use software from Innovative Interfaces (III) – a vendor specialising in library related software – have the opportunity to participate in user group conferences held all over the world. Staff members from the NWU Library Services attended this year’s South African conference, the IUG-SA, which was hosted by the Vaal University of Technology and held at the Emerald resort and casino in Vanderbijlpark from the 23rd to the 25th of November.
The theme of the conference was “III inside out: share your expertise”, and as such presentations focused on how institutions use their systems to optimally support functions in the library. Carine Basson represented how the NWU Library Services uses the system to determine overlap between subscription packages in order to identify options with the most value.
This conference also gives III and other vendors an opportunity to demonstrate and introduce new products to the library community, and allows members to network with colleagues in an informal setting. The 2017 IUG-SA will be hosted by TUT.
Martin Nokoane of the Library Services (PC) attended the 17th Annual LIASA Conference which was held at the Durban ICC, from the 10- 14 October 2016. The theme of the conference was Libraries in Action: Transformation and Development towards 2030.
Not only was Martin attending the conference, he also delivered a paper on the topic: New role for librarians: empowering the community by responding to the social responsibilityplea. The paper showcased what was done in 2016 by the NWU Library Services on Potchefstroom Campus in relation to community engagement in our area, thereby making the library visible to the community. Through community engagement the university stop to function as a silo and align itself to the South African slogan: “together we can do more”.
The conference was very informative and LIASA was challenged to also play a role to find solutions to the #fees must fall campaign.
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.
17 Staff members of the Potchefstroom Campus Library had the opportunity to attend the SAOIM 2016 Conference at the CSIR on 8 and 9 June. Themes were informative and ranged from The 21st century information professional, to the use of social media, strategies for coping with new technologies and mobile information literacy training. Potch Campus Librarian for Undergraduate Support, Sonja van der Westhuizen delivered a very relevant paper regarding embedding information literacy in the lives of undergraduate students.
By doing this, new students will be aided and equipped with information literacy skills that will improve their abilities to use the library resources optimally. Not only can this orientation assist with their studies, but it can have a large contribution to their life long learning. She laid special emphasis on reaching the future researchers (undergraduates) in a language that they will understand, and also by incorporating into the learning process technologies they are already familiar with.