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Library and Information Services
In other libraries, this department is known as Library ICT Department. During the merger, NMMU management did not approve the name, because the university already had an ICT Services Department.
This department forms the backbone or engine of the Library. It is not only the department that supports all the other library departments, it also directs the Library’s e-strategy as the driving force towards becoming a virtual, digital and multimedia library.
It is a department in which the disciplines of library and computer science overlap totally. As the traditional training of librarians did not include the technology with which we have to work today, staff in this department have to keep up by self-study, research, experimentation and implementation, often determining the route to be followed. The library environment today is a rapidly-changing environment and our users, who are the cell phone and computer generation, demand that we keep up with cutting edge technology. The staff perform highly specialized jobs with so many aspects, that no single degree equips the incumbents for the demands of their jobs. Extensive experience of the new technology in Library and Information Services, is required from staff and enables them to understand and communicate in the varied technical language used in the library ICT world.
Currently the department has a Deputy Director, Systems Librarian and Web Administrator.
The Systems Librarian supports and trains staff of all the other library departments in the online library system, an Innovative Interfaces product, which we share with the other 3 University Libraries in the Eastern Cape, as part of the SEALS Consortium. The Systems sub-department manages and sets up the underlying structure of the system on which all the modules function, and as such have to have knowledge and understanding of all the library processes such as Acquisitions, Cataloguing, Serials, Electronic Records Management, Circulation, Inter-library Loans and the online catalogue (WebPAc) to guide and direct the other library staff.
This department serves all the library staff across all six campuses. One of our tasks is to ensure that the staff and students on al these campuses have the computer hard- and software needed to do their work. We are in constant liaison with ICT Services, who provides maintenance, advice and support. We are also involved with the planning, obtaining of funds and implementation of Internet workstations, as well as Information- and Research Commons in all branches. These Commons are one-stop-areas where under- and post-graduates are provided with the computer equipment to do their research and assignments and have staff available to support their research and ICT needs.
In the Web Services sub-department, the Library online presence is presented on the library web pages. Information about the library and its resources and service is provided here as well as an online means of communicating with users through social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instant Messaging programmes. This is where the image of the Library is presented to the outside world.
The web administrator also provides support for the online document management of all library departments on a shared server drive and the SharePoint software, by managing access rights and folders. Here all departments’ document sharing and collaborative working are facilitated in an online environment. Together with the Deputy Director: Information Services and Training, we are liaising with CTLM to use software programmes, Moodle and Camtasia, to create our own multimedia training programmes which we use to train our users and library staff to enhance their research and computer skills.
We also provide support with regards to access to online databases and journals. In this regard, we liaise with the vendors that provide restricted access to our registered library users. We provide the access means via our online catalogue and a web page from which users can gain access. We are also in control of the software that restricts and manages access. This is an area where we have direct contact with our users, as they often phone us for help in getting access to our online databases. We constantly liaise with NMMU network administrators for not only internet access, but also wireless access in all our libraries, as we have to ensure that ICT Services regards our network uptime and access as Business Critical. On the SEALS Consortium level, we liaise with the SEALS Trust and Systems Manager in terms of the SEALS Service level Agreement with Rhodes ICT Services, who maintain our server and need to ensure uninterrupted access to our online system.
Extensive research and investigation into new technologies in libraries as well as the operations of an electronic library, is required from the staff in this department and the Deputy Director has compiled an e-Strategy for the NMMU Library. As far as this Strategy is concerned, Library Task Teams have to facilitate the complementing of print resources by electronic resources and the provision of online services and training. This department is the core of the new electronic Library and is instrumental in keeping it essential to research, teaching and learning in the new information environment. Because we live in a rapidly changing electronic environment, we have to stay informed of new developments and incorporate them into our e-Strategy. The pace at which we work, is fast and often rapid changing of direction, is necessary. The Deputy Director has done presentations to NMMU top management to promote and get buy-in for our e-Strategy, as well as presentations to various NMMU groups, such as ICT Services and the Writing Centre. On 17 August 2011, we had a workshop on the “Impact of New Technologies on Library and Information Services”, where the Deputy Director presented our e-Strategy and ICT Services shared their endeavours and strategies with us, so that we continue to work in an environment where we are partners in fulfilling our objectives and work co-operatively on projects.
This department works in an environment that is no longer static, but interactive. This also means that there often are no precedents to follow, but that we have to learn by implementing and experimenting. If something does not work, we have to change course and try an alternate. We have to plan in advance, typically a five-year implementation plan of the Library’ electronic environment. To enable Library to function in this environment, we have to investigate, develop and implement e-Processes, s-Services, state-of-the-art technology and electronic access.
• This new technology environment has to provide software with which our users can find and access our electronic collection from the starting point of our online catalogue. In this regard, we work closely together with the SEALS Systems and Trsut Manager and colleagues at the other SEALS Consortium libraries, as we share software and databases and have to agree on common settings for the software. The annual maintenance budget for the online system, also forms part of our Operational Budget.
• This new technology environment has to use new communication systems to enable the Library to communicate via interactive technology, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instant Messaging. In this regard, we work closely with NMMU ICT Services that provide advice and support, as well as colleagues at other South African universities who are involved in web access services. This department also markets the Library through the internet and these new technologies, such as sms services, large advertising boards in the libraries and an electronic newsletter. We therefore work closely with NMMU Marketing and Corporate Affairs.
• This new technology environment has to provide database in which the electronic theses and dissertations of the NMMU are deposited and access is provided to the world. On a National and International level, we share this research via open access databases. The National Research Foundation is harvesting our Electronic Theses and Dissertations metadata for the inclusion of our M and D research output in the national database.
We strive to provide optimal support, skills, training and knowledge to maintain and enhance the ICT infrastructure of the LIS. This will enable the information, bibliographical services and user services to function optimally as an innovative, creative and accessible partner in advancing the teaching, learning, research and community goals of the university.
To achieve our vision, we must be characterized by:
Having attained our vision we will be able to:
Our mission is to provide and maintain a state-of-the-art ICT LIS environment which will facilitate access to quality information resources and services that satisfy the information needs of our users by:
Tel: +27 (0) 41 504 1111
Fax: +27 (0) 41 504 2574 / 2731
PO Box 77000, Nelson Mandela University
Port Elizabeth, 6031, South Africa
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