Author: Bronwyn Bruton. Translation by Naomi Visser. Photograph by Celeste Reynolds
Professor Eugene Cloete (Vice-Rector: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies) challenged delegates to change the paradigm of how learning happens and asserted that librarians lead the way and not follow. This was in his opening address at the Stellenbosch University 14th Annual Library Symposium which took place on the 3rd and 4th November 2016 at STIAS (Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies). The theme of the symposium was Shaping the academic library of the future: adapt, empower, partner, engage.
Tanja Hichert’s invigorating keynote How to be ‘future-fit’ and manage complexity and uncertainty, highlighted the tumultuous times in which we live and the need to work a lot differently. “Regime shifts”, “systemic differences” and “stresses” are a part of our ‘vuca’ world of ‘volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity’. Strategies she suggested include ‘crossing the river by feeling for stones underfoot’, and ‘start walking and the road will come to you.’
Dr Andrew Cox from the University of Sheffield ‘tackled’ the topic of Libraries and the wicked challenge of Research Data Management (RDM). Andrew explained that RDM is ‘wicked’ as the problem is unique, contradictory solutions exist, and it may not be ‘solvable’. He reiterated that librarians have a very positive role to play in the wicked challenge.
Anita Nel, CEO of INNOVUS, the technology transfer company of Stellenbosch University, enlightened delegates about how the Western Cape has significant potential to become a leading knowledge region, with no less than four universities and the MRC. Partnership with the library contributes to this vision.
Kate Robinson, University Librarian from the University of Bath, provoked thought about what is possible for our libraries when institutions forge new connections and in different groupings. Kate enthusiastically shared insights about the Great Western Alliance (GW4) an open, collaborative and resourceful partnership of four research-intensive universities in the South West of England.
A mind shift is needed to understand the evolution of Web 3.0 for the library of the future. This was Prof Riaan Rudman’s message in a mesmerising, thought-challenging presentation. The user of the future is self-centred, seeks instant gratification, has a short attention span and would rather watch a YouTube clip than read a 30 page journal article. An enormous mind-jolt for librarians is that keyword searches are dying!
In his exciting closing address Professor Mark Swilling informed delegates of a ‘great transformation’ (both an industrial and an agricultural revolution), which will be undergone within 25 to 50 years. ‘Millennials’ will learn through distance learning and e-learning. Generosity, living for others, ‘relationality’ and open access are core values needed.
The Library Symposium was attended by 133 delegates from approximately 20 institutions. Forty-two library staff members from SU attended the symposium. The programme was certainly packed with much ‘mind-shifting’ content.
For more information about the symposium and the presentations, visit the symposium website.