My initial report about the founding of LIASA appeared in the News Section of IFLA Journal in October 1997. This 2017 visual presentation with anecdotal commentary focuses on well-known and less-remembered contexts of LIASA’s development over 20 years, and its achievements as a maturing professional body. The presentation concludes that “LIASA at 20” indeed reflects a radical transformation.
Democratic post-apartheid South Africa was only three years old in 1997; everyone was on a very steep personal and organisational learning curve, with fierce factions and considerable distrust within the profession. Yet out of the choking weeds and prickly thorns of those early years that I once called the LIS “acronym years”, the members of LIASA have cultivated a robust hybrid plant with many colourful flowers, new ideas and developments – “LIASA at 20”.
Starting points covered:
- the “one voice” joint ALASA–SAILIS 1995 LISDESA conference in Durban;
- the ULIS “unaligned” steering committee who in 18 months made feasible the
- Johannesburg “unification conference” in July 1996, that nominated a
- representative “Broad Support Group”, that carried the “ULIS-2” process forward to
- the Pretoria ULIS-2 Constituent Conference, at which
- LIASA was founded and named on 10 July 1997, and the first members enrolled;
- a Transitional Executive Committee was elected and led LIASA forward to
- Bloemfontein, November 1998 for the first LIASA Conference, AGM, elected President and Representative Council.
Further input noted:
- a robust stakeholders’ Consultative Workshop in April 1997 from which emerged the “panel-beaten” clauses of a constitution for voting at the July 1997 conference; and
- ongoing heated debates within existing LIS organizations, finally leading to “disbanding” resolutions from ALASA and SAILIS though not LIWO; and
- a substantial “seed-money” donation from SAILIS to LIASA when SAILIS dissolved in 1998.
The presentation further identifies many major milestones of LIASA’s 20-year progress, and in particular recent developments including:
- 2014 recognition by SAQA as a Professional Body;
- 2015 IFLA WLIC;
- Ongoing international participation by individual LIASA members;
- Ongoing support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Mortenson Center UIUC;
- a vibrant state-of-art newsletter showcasing member and branch activity.
LISDESA in 1995 recognised what had been lost for decades by not sharing “one voice”; “LIASA at 20” has become a tree to be nurtured, a microcosm of radical transformation for its members and the LIS profession.