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The Research Libraries Consortium: a Project funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Activities in 2006-2007. Outline of Presentation. Background to the Project The Library & the Research Environment The Three Components of the Project The Librarians’ Academy ( the librarians )

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The research libraries consortium a project funded by the carnegie corporation of new york

The Research Libraries Consortium:a Project funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York

Activities in 2006-2007

Outline of presentation
Outline of Presentation

  • Background to the Project

  • The Library & the Research Environment

  • The Three Components of the Project

    • The Librarians’ Academy (the librarians)

    • The Portal (access to digital content)

    • The Commons (physical space)

  • Phase II (roll-out to more institutions)

Background to the project
Background to the Project

  • Three libraries involved, by invitation of CCNY:

    • Cape Town

    • KwaZulu-Natal

    • Witwatersrand

  • Grant of US$2.5 million

  • Funding from August 2006

  • Called “Research Libraries Consortium”

  • Full-time project manager, January 2007-

Background to the project1
Background to the Project

The purpose of the project is to

“model transformation and enrichment in the support offered to researchers by South African academic libraries”

and to do this by

“taking advantage of existing strengths in South Africa’s leading academic libraries to sustain, improve, and consolidate the troubled research enterprise in our country”

Background to the project2
Background to the Project

  • We have made significant progress in Year I:

    • Successful library academy in September 2007

    • Identification of US partners for internships

    • Selection of first software package for Portal

    • Portal to go live in early 2008

    • Identification of spaces for Research Commons

    • Physical remodeling of spaces underway

    • Research Commons services to open in 2008

The library the research environment in south africa
The Library & the Research Environment in South Africa

  • South Africa’s research context is complex and country-specific

    • Research is a national imperative

    • Cadre of aging researchers

    • Educational system in transition

    • Disparities in preparation of students for research

    • Intense competition for available talent

    • Linguistic and cultural diversity

    • Need to build on talents of whole population

The library the research environment in south africa1
The Library & the Research Environment in South Africa

More access to more information, by itself, is not a sufficient solution:

  • Emerging researchers are often not autonomous information users

  • They need physical location with appropriate support

  • They need librarians with subject domain expertise

  • Many SA librarians have LIS training but no formal subject training or qualifications

  • Researchers need support in the use of all types of resource

  • Project components are therefore interdependent & fully integrated

The library the research environment in south africa2
The Library & the Research Environment in South Africa

  • Co-operative links with e.g. Center for Research Libraries (US)

  • But project takes note of local needs:

    • Special effort to provide and aggregate Africa-related content

    • Development of local & institutional repositories (IR’s)

    • IR training planned and already started

The library the research environment in south africa3
The Library & the Research Environment in South Africa

  • We recognise that better library services for researchers will not produce more or better research by themselves

  • But we believe that without better library services, we cannot improve research quality in South Africa

  • Thus, necessary but not sufficient

Three components
Three Components

  • The Librarians’ Academy

    • Focused on existing library staff

    • Focused on gaps in education, not in LIS training

  • The Research Portal

    • Bringing digital resources together

    • Making appropriate resources more easily accessible

  • The Research Commons

    • Personal support for emerging researchers

    • “If we build it, they will come”

Three components1
Three Components

The three


are all



The library academy
The Library Academy

  • Week One:

    • Researchers talking about research

    • Wide range of disciplines

    • Wide range of epistemologies

  • Week Two:

    • Role of the research librarian

    • Why library support is important for research

    • Development of appropriate skills

  • Plus some fun events (yoga, a quiz, outings)

Participantsmentioned that they believed that they were listened to and heard during the Academy

The library academy1
The Library Academy

Some comments from participants:

  • …provided an intellectual framework that has given me confidence and understanding…

  • …fascinating, humbling and necessarily uncomfortable…

  • …good balance between presentations and hands-on…

  • …very privileged to have been a participant…

  • …Yoga was great!

  • …second week was of less overall value…

  • …planning and organisation of the Academy was excellent…

  • …superb venue…

  • …every institution should investigate ways of sending all librarians to such an Academy…

The research portal
The Research Portal

  • More than just a library web page

  • Offers various «value-added» services

  • First component is serials and database access

  • Offers sophisticated search options

  • Will go live early in 2008

  • Will offer other services later

The research portal1
The Research Portal

  • The first package is TDnet, allows users to access electronic serials and other databases:

The research portal2
The Research Portal

Users can either search for specific titles or browse journal lists like this:

The research portal3
The Research Portal

But the real novelty is the ability to search across combinations of data bases:

The research commons
The Research Commons

  • Funding is for three spaces, one on each campus

  • Decision thus required from multi-campus institutions

  • How to extend RC service to all campuses?

  • Building on previous experience with the Knowledge Commons

  • Will open in early 2008

  • Academy graduates will help to run the Research Commons facilities

The research commons1
The Research Commons

The experience at UCT with the largely undergraduate Knowledge Commons was that demand outstripped available space pretty consistently:

The wits research commons
The Wits Research Commons

The new Commons is being built in the William Cullen Library on the Wits Campus, and will be ready to open in early 2008…

The Research Commons in

the Cullen Library at Wits is

already fitted with some

furniture, including comfort-

able window seats…

The commons at ukzn
The Commons at UKzN

The University of KwaZulu Natal has selected a well-lighted space in the Howard Library, and construction work is well advanced

The commons at uct
The Commons at UCT

  • The University of Cape Town’s RC is in the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library on Upper Campus

Construction work here has involved the removal of several separating

Walls and the knocking down of some ceilings…

Rolling out the concept
Rolling Out the Concept

  • This has already started

    • Two Rhodes librarians at the Academy, at Rhodes expense

    • Other institutions are already very interested

  • And if further funding becomes available…

Rolling out the concept1
Rolling Out the Concept

  • April 2008, six interns working in top US research libraries for four weeks

  • September 2008, Academy II

  • ca. April 2009, second group of interns to US

  • Constitutes intervention in LIS education debate

  • Research Commons in service, 2008-

  • Research Portal expanded to offer new services

  • Possibility to seek funding for second 3-year period

  • Possible involvement of other institutions

Finally, a Challenge…

…many more of our librarians must themselves hold PhDs, whether in librarianship and informatics or in any academic subject under the sun…

…the PhD friendly specialist librarian can do almost everything a good supervisor can do for a PhD student; and can use all the tools of great libraries better than the supervisor or the student….

Prof. Renfrew Christie (Dean of Research at UWC)at the Library Academy, September 2007