Shaping the Future of Librarianship: Meet Two South African Early Career Librarians

September 26, 2019 Chloe Wenborn

Ariel Image of Johannesburg

The SANLiC conference, held in South Africa, is a bi-annual conference that's an important event on the e-resource librarian’s calendar. The conference offers the opportunity for those in the industry to gather, share, and learn about the latest developments while assisting institutions in acquiring digital collections.

This year we offered two Early Career Librarians the opportunity to attend SANLiC for free.

The lucky winners, Sibongiseni Mrwashu and Livhuwani Nemutanzhela, spoke to us about their experiences at the conference and what they learned that they’ll be taking back to their institutions.

Q: Can you first tell us a little about yourselves and your roles?

A. Sibongiseni Mrwashu: My name is Sibongiseni Mrwashu and I’m currently a Junior Law Librarian at Stellenbosch University. My career started out at the Southern African Information Institute (SAFLII) in 2014. Initially, I started out as an intern, I then moved to Content Editor and then two years later I became Senior Content Editor and Quality Control Personnel.

Livhuwani Nemutanzhela: My name is Livhuwani Nemutanzhela and I am a Senior Acquisitions Librarian at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am a lifelong learner and knowledge-driven librarian. To get into librarianship, I did a four-year bachelor’s degree in ‘Information Studies’ at the University of Limpopo.

Q: Why did you enter to win a place at the SANLiC 2019 conference?

SM: I wanted to know more about the field of Librarianship. Despite being a young professional in the librarian industry, the industry has always seemed closed off, as more opportunities and advancements are not well marketed to young professionals. This opportunity gave me the broad awareness I needed.

LN: I have just joined an academic institution, and I knew going to the conference would be a great opportunity to learn more about the consortium my institution is a part of as well as establishing relationships with new vendors while strengthening existing relationships. I also wanted to learn about the developments in e-Resources such as Open Access, Transformative Agreements, Open Science, Scholarly Communications, Open Access Publishing, and other dynamic issues emanating from collection development to information resources.

Q: What was the most interesting thing you learned at the conference?

SM: The conference was focused mainly on the e-resource librarian. Because of this, I learned a lot about an e-resource librarian role and how it impacts the service I offer. For instance, having an awareness of how licenses and perpetual access work when assisting a client who is looking for older works not covered by perpetual access then motivates the librarian to seek the information in other streams, such as open access repositories.

LN: The most interesting thing I learned at the conference was how the University of California has embarked on transformative agreements. It was also interesting hearing about the challenges the university has in these transformative agreements and about their journey to get to where they are now. Probably the most engaging part of the conference was learning about Open Access. I discovered that Wiley is fully behind the transition to OA, while there are other publishers who are still resistant to Open Access.

Q: What effect do you expect attending the conference will have on your role AND what does your institution gain from your attendance at this conference?

SM: The conference has offered me knowledge and expertise from colleagues in the field, a chance to network with other professionals and an opportunity to explore how to fine-tune the service that I offer to patrons. It has also given me more information on how OA agreements work, which I will be sharing with colleagues at my institution.

LN: It has had a very positive impact on my role, from establishing new relationships to giving me a broader understanding of what is happening in the industry globally. I think my institution will benefit from my insight into transformative agreements.

Q: Do you think it is important for Early Career Librarians to attend these types of conferences and why?

SM: Attending these conferences is fundamental to the growth of the profession and the development of Early Career Librarians. These types of events open up the individual’s mental faculties and it challenges them to do more. I believe the future librarian is one who’s able to, at any given point in time, be able to act creatively and resourcefully while offering world class service. 

LN: It is important to attend, Librarianship is changing and it’s good that ECLs know of the new trends, new developments, and learn about best practices in the field. It is important to establish new networks, and this can be done through attending conferences. However, institutions have limited budgets to send the majority of staff to these conferences.

Thanks Sibongiseni and Livhuwani!

About the Author

Chloe Wenborn

Social Media and Content, Wiley //I work with Librarians to create content for The Wiley Network and @WileyLibraries.

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