Taking the user experience (UX) forward

In November 2018, the Library and Information Service hosted its 15th Stellenbosch University Library Symposium, themed “Smarter libraries: User experience (UX) in action”. A focus on user experience ensures that products and services are designed to meet users’ needs. In his keynote address, Mr Ned Potter shared information and experiences of UX research and implementation at the University of York Library.

The Library and Information Service of Stellenbosch University is now taking UX forward. A UX Research Task Team has been formed.  The Team has worked on a proposal on how UX research will be conducted in the Library over the next two years. Concise descriptions of the many available UX methods have been compiled, contributing towards a “tool box” for the Library. Principles which Potter shared, which the Team is keeping in mind, are that time is important for UX (for training, doing, analysing and implementing), that one should go beyond the walls of the Library and learn what others are doing UX-wise, and that one gets more impact from quality than one does from quantity. An example of a UX method is conducting focus group discussions. In 2019, the Library and Information Service will be conducting focus group interviews to investigate our clients’ attitudes and perceptions of our research support services. Other UX methods are being investigated too.

The Team is excited to get all Library staff learning, thinking, doing and implementing UX research.

Access to Wiley Journal Content in 2018

In both 2016 and 2017 the Library embarked on huge journal evaluation projects, in consultation with faculties.

In addition to the cancellation of lesser-used journals, the comprehensive Wiley journal package was cancelled for 2018, in favour of subscriptions to a smaller number of Wiley journals. The Library now provides full-text Wiley articles from non-subscribed journals through interlibrary loans, which takes between 24 and 48 hours. The Library retains 1997-2017 backfile access to the most important non-subscribed Wiley journals, and 2010-2017 backfile access to other Wiley journals.

How to access Wiley journals to which the Library subscribes on a title-by-title basis since January 2018

A list of such titles can be found here. Full-text access to the electronic backfiles of these titles remains available.

Full-text access to Wiley journals up to 2017

The Library retains access to the 1997-2017 content of some non-subscribed Wiley journals, and to the 2010-2017 content of other Wiley journals. A list of such titles can be found here. Options to access these:

Requesting full-text articles through interlibrary loans

All Wiley journal articles remain discoverable up to abstract level. Should you require the full text of a non-accessible article (i.e. published since January 2018), you may request it through interlibrary loans. This service takes between 24 and 48 hours. Please note that the cost of interlibrary loans is carried by the Library, and not by academic departments.

Any further enquiries can be directed to: Naomi Visser (nrv@sun.ac.za, tel. 021 808 4433)

Mark Frier

The Hullabaloo about Research Data Management

What is research data management?

It is like a shadow in the darkness, a mystery lingering in academic minds. The words themselves have been whispered in the corridors all across campus: What is research data management?

To adapt what legendary investor Philip Fisher wrote in relation to the hullabaloo about dividends in his famous investment classic Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits:

There is a considerable degree of twisted thinking and general acceptance of half truths about a number of aspects of research data management. However, whenever the significance and importance of research data management is considered, the confusion of the typical researcher becomes little short of monumental.

In summary, research data management can be described as a process which consists of two components:

  1. firstly, planning for the manner in which research data will be managed during and after the research process; and
  2. secondly, controlling the collection, processing, analysis, sharing, dissemination, curation and reuse of research data.

So what is the hullabaloo about research data management?

In the past decade the management of research data has taken on a more prominent role in tertiary education institutions around the world. This has been primarily due to the increasingly data-centric nature of academic research. At the same time academic institutions have been influenced by the Open Access movement which advocates for the unrestricted access and use of published research. A convergence of these two developments has culminated in a call for the unrestricted access and use of research data. The move itself is being supported by research funding agencies. In recent years, some of Stellenbosch University’s research funders have required the implementation of adequate research data management practices to facilitate the open access of research data. Such practices should comply with best practices such as:

  1. research data should be managed through the creation and submission of data management plans; and
  2. research data should be findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.

 What are the implications?

The recent developments relating to Open Access and Open Science have necessitated the creation of a research data management system at the university to facilitate adequate research data management practices. As a leading research institution, Stellenbosch University will address this issue by adopting appropriate data management practices. Thus over the foreseeable future, students and staff can expect a number of developments related to the creation of our university’s research data management system.

Watch this space for future developments!

 Samuel Simango


SUNDigital Collections shines brighter

The Library’s digital heritage repository, SUNDigital Collections, which currently hosts 12 861 individual items in 30 collections, recently underwent an essential system upgrade. This upgrade resulted in a new look and feel for the repository, as well as enhanced features for easier navigation. These features include opening images and documents in separate windows and a multi-level hierarchical structure, which allows for more granular indexing of larger collections.

A few new collections were also added to SUNDigital Collections this year, most notably a collection of plates with original botanical illustrations and handwritten notes from the Rudolf Marloth Collection. In keeping with the spirit of the University’s centenary year, the Victoria College and Stellenbosch University photograph collection has been augmented with the addition of several new images, including photographs picturing student life through the years.

Undertaking a Stellenbosch University “Archaeological expedition”, 1920?; J. P. Marais on the far left. Source: Stellenbosch University and Victoria College Historical Photographs collection, SUNDigital Collections, http://hdl.handle.net/10019.2/14887

The collection of journalist August de Villiers (Gus) Cluver, who was a student at Stellenbosch University between 1932 and 1935, has also recently been digitised and uploaded to SUNDigital Collections. Cluver was a student cheerleader and editor of the liberal “Pro Libertate” student publication of which the fragile original is kept in the Africana section of Special Collections. A next step to complete the digital collection would be to digitise these scarce original copies.

In addition to the substantial growth SUNDigital Collections has shown since its inception in 2013, it appears as if the repository is also being widely accessed and used. Recent usage statistics show approximately 1300 visits and 890 downloads in the month up to the 29 May, including international visits from the USA, UK, Russia, Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Canada. The most popular downloads are from collections featuring examples of South African vernacular architecture, such as the André Pretorius collection.

Mimi Seyffert-Wirth

The Newly refurbished Medicine and Health Sciences Library

“The new library doesn’t only look modern but feels like a space full of success stories waiting to happen”! This was a testimony from a student which was read out during the Official Opening of the newly refurbished Medicine and Health Sciences Library, at the Tygerberg Campus, on 22 May.

Originally furnished in 1974, the Medicine and Health Sciences Library was in need of a revamp. Planning for the new library of almost 3000 m2, began in 2013.  In 2017/2018, a total refurbishment was undertaken.  The refurbishment formed part of the SU Campus Renewal Plan. The new library is aligned with one of the themes of the University’s new Strategic Framework, namely, networked and collaborative teaching and learning.

Construction started in February 2017. Most of the library’s books and journals were placed in storage for a year. During this time, the library occupied a temporary space in the basement of the faculty. The temporary space allowed staff to continue providing a service although limited books and space were available to students.

The refurbished library now has much to offer its users in support of networked and collaborative teaching and learning. There are 68 Windows computers with up-to-date software on a high-speed network. The computers are dispersed throughout the library, with eight in the Lounge area. Medical and Health Sciences students also make use of their own devices and the library has therefore ensured adequate, seamless Wi-Fi connectivity.

The new state-of-the-art Digital Commons and E-classroom allows students a space that is conducive to academic learning, both in a group and as an individual.  The 38 Windows computers and projector, are earmarked as a training facility where library staff can train students and staff in the use of the library and its resources.

Also available are six study booths fitted with comfortable benches and electrical points for e-devices. Twenty-one individual study tables, towards the back of the library, offer quiet individual reflective learning spaces with comfortable seating. All are equipped with power docks.

The library has nine seminar rooms of various sizes, each fitted with appropriate equipment for use by groups, either for discussions, meetings, group learning or collaborative sessions.  Appropriate equipment ranges from electrical points to screens and whiteboards, all of which promote student collaboration and discussion and enhance student engagement in learning.

The Research Commons is a dedicated space that actively supports research, and is exclusively for postgraduate students, researchers, academics and administrative staff.

The novel Video Conferencing Room is a specialised area with video conference facilities. It is available for use by researchers and specialised groups.

The yellowwood tree in the courtyard conceptualizes the philosophy of a library being symbolically and physically the heartbeat of a university. It symbolizes the seed of knowledge and creative thinking that is planted in the library, and precipitates growth of the campus community.

The Medicine and Health Sciences Library of the Library and Information Service, Stellenbosch University, is now positioned to contribute and serve modern health professionals to the benefit of the greater South African society.

Yusuf Ras

Editing: Bronwyn Bruton

Research Commons Workshops 2018

As a Researcher, would you like to know more about the following?

  • Research Data Management
  • Enhancing the visibility of your research output through self-archiving
  • Maximising your research impact
  • Mendeley for reference management and academic networking
  • Managing your unique author ID with ORCID
  • Useful tools and applications for research
  • The benefits of Open Access publishing for researchers

These workshops are offered by the library’s Research Commons and will enhance your work as a budding researcher. For the more accomplished researchers, there is the opportunity to gain insight into how to maximise the visibility of your published work.

The workshops are intended to assist you on your road to the successful completion of your research work.  Whatever you are needing in terms of adding value to your research output, learning about and mastering the “how to” matters which crop up along the way, the Library and Information Service’s Research Commons workshops are THE place to find what you need.

These are only an example of the workshops offered which will assist you to complete your tasks at hand.  Most workshops are run in both the first and second semester, so if you miss a workshop, you will have another opportunity to attend.  The Library and Information Service is also continually improving these services. This year three new workshops are offered.  Each workshop focuses on specific outcomes geared to the workshop theme. To see more about this and find out about this year-long set of workshops, click on this link.

Earlier this year, the library launched a new blog on research support services, called Library Research News. The aim of the blog is to keep researchers and postgraduate students up-to-date with research-related products, services offered by the library and the library’s research support endeavours. Subscribe to the blog to receive new posts in your inbox.

SA Library Week

“Libraries: heart of the University Community” was the adapted theme used by the Library and Information Service to celebrate South African Library Week from the 16th to the 23rd March 2018.

The theme served to remind users that the library is “a communal space that caters to specific needs” of the University community, and that the library belongs to the University community and is central to it.

Three training sessions which took place in the Stellenbosch University Library (SU Library) were highlighted to users on the plasma screens. Plasma slides also presented the SALW theme and featured each of the branch libraries, including the newly refurbished Medicine and Health Sciences Library at Tygerberg campus. The Library Week poster was displayed at all libraries, and the Library Week and Library banners were displayed prominently at the SU Library.

A competition was run on the library facebook page where users were asked to “like” the page, take a photograph of their favourite area in any of the SU libraries, post their photograph, and most importantly tell us why it is their favourite area.

Congratulations to our winners Anjela Adamson, Ilke Meissner and Vincent Frenz. Here is what they said about their favourite areas:

  • Anjela Adamson posted “I love this spot [Research Commons] in the library because it is the perfect overlap between working on my thesis and relaxing with coffee.

  • Ilke Meissner wrote “The bookshelves of course. And the research commons. Both are vital to my work.”

  • Vincent Frenz shared “This spot…This corner of the Carnegie Research Commons is an excellent spot to give your mind a break without having to leave the library. The ideal spot when it is cold and raining and you just have the need to read a good book!”

Anjela, Ilke and Vincent are each pictured below with their winning voucher. Congratulations and enjoy your meal!

Pre-Stellenbosch University history highlighted

What were the ‘predecessor institutions’ to SU? When did they begin? How did SU come into existence? And when was the SU Act promulgated? These were some of the questions which were answered in an exhibition, Pre-Stellenbosch University history, 1866 -1918, curated in the Stellenbosch University Library by the Library’s Centenary commemorations working group. The display was both physical and e- in nature.

Interesting facts highlighted in the exhibition included:

  • On 1 March 1866 Het Stellenbosch Gymnasium or the First Class Undenominational School was officially opened.
  • In 1874 the “Arts Department” was founded.
  • On 4 July 1879 the Arts Department was renamed The Stellenbosch College and College School.
  • The laying of the corner stone of the Old Main Building took place on 22 December 1880.Victoria College foundation stone laying, 20 November 1880 (Source: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/459, SUNDigital Collections)
  • On 10 June 1881, Act No. 9 of 1881, The Stellenbosch Undenominational College and Public School Act, was passed. This officially raised Stellenbosch to college status.
  • On 6 November 1886 the Old Main Building was officially opened.
  • On 7 July 1887, the College was renamed The Victoria College of Stellenbosch.

Printed legislature which prepared for the ‘birth’ of SU was highlighted in the display:

  • The University of Stellenbosch Act 12 of 1916 (9th May) set out the conditions in terms of which Victoria College would officially be incorporated as Stellenbosch University.
  • Statutes and Joint Statutes which gave effect to the provisions of section 19 of the Stellenbosch University Act were published on 7 March 1918 as part of the Government Notice No 303.
  • On the 25 March 1918 the Governor-General published a Government Notice (no. 409) to approve the Statutes and Joint Statutes published on 7 March 1918.

The 25 March 1918 can thus be regarded as the appointed day on which Stellenbosch University officially became incorporated.


SU Open Day at the Library

Abuzz with curious, enquiring minds… This describes the Stellenbosch University Library on SU Open Day.

More than 1042 ‘enquiring minds’ visited the Stellenbosch University Library on SU Open Day, Saturday 24 February.  Visitors were warmly welcomed, and were keen to be taken on a short tour of the library.  Others were happy to explore at their own pace. Library staff who volunteered to be on duty were delighted to witness that in some instances a Matie (alumnus) had brought a younger family member or friend to show him or her around ‘his library’.

Prospective students were eager to ask questions including “does the library have novels?” and “what hours is the library open?”

Visitors enjoyed experiencing the Africana section and the Head of this section, Marieta Buys, was kept busy ‘quenching the thirst’ of curious minds, both young and mature. On display were the heaviest, as well as the oldest book owned by the library. The grandfather clock, donated by HB Thom, a former Rector of SU, attracted much attention. The clock was proclaimed an antique in 1963, and now has heritage object status according to Section 32 of the National Heritage Resources Act, 25 of 1999.  Another item which sparked the interest of visitors was the title deed of the land owned by Simon Van Der Stel in Stellenbosch.  Prospective students were left in awe of the wealth of material available in the Special Collections division of the Library and Information Service.

Overall, SU Open Day was a positive and worthwhile experience for the Library, and it seems from the response received, for our many visitors.

Left: Marieta Buys (third from right) explains to enthusiastic Open Day visitors about the Africana collection in the Africana Room. Pepler Head (far left), who was showing the group around the library, looks on.


Left:  A group of young ladies being shown through the Learning Commons on SU Open Day, by Paulette Talliard (far left).