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Making Rhodes Library the hub of the University

Date Released: Mon, 9 July 2012 10:59 +0200

The new Director of Library Services, Ms Satgoor made the “life-changing decision” of joining Rhodes after visiting Grahamstown on only two occasions, one of which was for the interview itself.

“Grahamstown has been a pleasant surprise for me,” she says. “And what I like about Rhodes is the focus and determination to give each and every student an all-round experience, preparing a young mind to be a global citizen.” She says this is unique, as many other universities are far too keen to “just chase after numbers”.

The accomplished Ms Satgoor was previously the Deputy Director for Library Services at the University of Pretoria, where she was at the helm of the strategic team that was considered a leader of academic librarianship in South Africa.

She has also occupied managerial positions at the Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA), the Consulate-General of India and other entities, dedicating 30 years to the library services sector.

In addition, Ms Satgoor’s professional membership roles include the position of Board Member of the National Library of South Africa, while she will serve as LIASA’s President for the 2012-2014 term.

“It is important to me to be able to contribute to the profession nationally, as well as promoting and preserving the heritage collections of South Africa,” she says.

She plans to focus not only on the partnerships between Library users and Library staff, but also between faculties.

“We need to engage proactively with students and academic departments; broadening horizons and inculcating skills that contribute to life-long learning, as opposed to single- subject orientated academic support.”

“The Library will be working concertedly to increase the visibility of research outputs via the Research Repository. We cannot work in isolation.”

The challenge is for departments to actively engage with faculty librarians so that the collections develop in step with their research and that the relevant support is provided by the Library during the research process.

“Students should have access to all material in their field, including up-to-date, peer-reviewed articles from journals in electronic format, in order to build a good argument,” she says.

Being a relatively new building, the ways in which the Library’s users engage with the space has changed quite significantly.

Ms Satgoor has noticed that, in accordance with international trends and emerging technologies, academic libraries are evolving positively into more social spaces, while also being   inclusive of dedicated research spaces such as the Research Commons on Level 2.

“While we may focus on physical spaces, we also need to be cognisant of the emerging digital spaces and electronic learning environments that academic libraries are now embracing,” she says.

Another exciting national project that Ms Satgoor is involved with, as the Project Director, is a library leadership development initiative, which has been funded by a $1 million grant from the Carnegie Corporationof New York.

This focuses on preparing middle and senior level librarians for leadership roles within their institutions and the library sector. The final and sixth two-week residential programme was held in April 2012, and at the end thereof, 120 librarians would have taken part in this exciting opportunity.

“I believe the Library, as the hub of the University, should reflect an eclectic collection and serve as a platform for social dialogue -vibrant, evolving and reflective of current thoughts and trends – and take the lead in knowledge and information innovation,”she concluded.

Photo and story by Anna-Karien Otto

Photo: The new Director of Library Services, Ms Ujala Satgoor