About the symposium
The Stellenbosch University Library and Information
Service takes pleasure in once again presenting the Stellenbosch University
Annual Library Symposium in its usual spot on the academic library calendar
The Symposium has been an important platform for the deliberation of library and
information service trends and issues, and for networking and professional
development for the last 12 years. This legacy will continue as we, in 2011,
turn our attention to the changing research environment in which we as
libraries currently find ourselves.
“Today, the research library is at an inflection point”. With this
statement, Rick Anderson1 captures a dilemma that has been echoing through
the LIS literature in recent years; a dilemma born from various elements
characteristic of the contemporary academic research environment.
Emerging new modes of research is one element. Research practice today is
increasingly diverse in location, increasingly interdisciplinary,
multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary with great emphasis on
collaboration. More diverse and informal modes of communication are used;
there is a heavy dependence on information in digital format and researchers
have access to vastly improved processing power.2
At the same time, scientific and scholarly publishing are evolving along two
distinct paths - one in which large multinational commercial publishers are
increasing their dominance in such areas as branded journal titles and
access to scientific publication, and the other in which a variety of open
access initiatives is emerging2.
Based on the premise that the
production and dissemination of knowledge will lead to economic benefits
such as the reduction of poverty and unemployment, building research
capacity has become a key strategic activity for most higher education
institutions in South Africa. Within this context, academic libraries are
increasingly called upon to provide the resources and tools to enable their
institutions to successfully reach their targets for student and research
output, to measure their research and to identify opportunities for
This leaves academic libraries with the question: What are the services
required from librarians to meet the emerging needs of a new cadre of
researchers? And moreover, what skills should we cultivate and develop in
meeting the challenge?
1 Anderson, R. 2011. The crisis in research librarianship. Journal of Academic Librarianship, July 2011 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2011.04.001
2 Houghton, J.W. 2004. Research practices, evaluation and infrastructure
in the digital environment. Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 35(3):161–176.