18th LIASA Annual Conference: Abstracts: Academic integration of Libraries at Universities of Technology in South Africa

Academic integration of Libraries at Universities of Technology in South Africa

Shirlene Neerputh

Academic libraries should lead in the instructional change process by being at the nexus of teaching, learning and research in the university. This study was set in the context of the current higher educational landscape of South Africa. In particular, it focussed on the emerging role of the University of Technology (UoT) library to enhance academic success.

This was an exploratory study juxtaposed with a literature review pertinent to national and international library integration programmes and practices. Justification for this study stemmed from the current local and international trend for academic libraries to become proactive partners in teaching and learning through academic integration and leadership in promoting the university’s mission and goals. Underpinned by the process learning theoretical framework, the aim of this study was to explore the extent to which academic integration has been adopted by UoT libraries in South Africa. Process learning was chosen by the researcher because it is considered a learner-centred teaching technique for student engagement and it is consistent with the constructivist theory postulated by and applicable to UoT libraries.

The specific objectives of the survey were to determine:  what academic integration programmes are offered by UoT libraries to enhance teaching, learning and research in South Africa;  existing information literacy programmes and assessment practices in UoT libraries;  what postgraduate/research programmes are offered by the library to academics and students and how they are represented in strategy or policy documents; and  the similarities and differences in academic integration programmes in all six UoT’s in SA. Quantitative methodology was used to collect data regarding programmes and practices prevalent across all six UoTs in South Africa. An online questionnaire was administered using SurveyMonkey. Forty-two subject librarians participated in the survey, yielding a sixty-two percent response rate.

The objectives of the study were achieved by the identification of the following key academic integration programmes: embedded information literacy programmes; resource collection and development; faculty collaboration and partnerships to promote academic success; research scholarship and open access initiatives; social media networking; and reading and writing programmes. This study found that while academic integration has gained momentum in UoTs in South Africa, greater effort should be made in collaboration with academics in: embedded information literacy and blended learning; open access and scholarship; reading and writing programmes; and collaboration in postgraduate interventions.  The findings also revealed that while most libraries internationally have embraced reading and writing programmes, libraries offering reading and writing programmes to enhance academic success are relatively scarce in UoTs in South Africa.

It is recommended that the subject librarians engage in academic integration practices by: supporting the curricula and research programmes; improving institutional outcomes; improving collaborations; building intellectual or knowledge centres and providing relevant information access to students and staff within a knowledge society.