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Unisa KZN Regional Library collaborates with Ray Nkonyeni Municipality Library Services

The University of South Africa (Unisa), KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Region, took a bold and ambitious step in an endeavour to extend its library services to current and prospective students on the South Coast of the province by entering into a partnership with the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality (RNM) Library Services. In 2019, the municipality generously donated a piece of land at Uvongo (RNM) to the institution to build a permanent structure.

Unisa Library staff and RNM librarians attending a workshop at the university's Durban Campus

On 9 March 2023, 15 librarians from the RNM Library Services attended a training workshop hosted by the university at the Durban Campus. Library staff explained various aspects of services offered by the library and how they envisaged these services to be extended to students residing within the RNM.

The librarians were warmly welcomed by the KZN Unisa Library Services Manager: Sbongiseni Ngubane. He explained the purpose of the workshop and the relationship between Unisa and RNM, indicating that this was to ensure that our current and prospective students, and the community at large, received correct information about Unisa without having to travel to the Durban or Pietermaritzburg offices. Sharing information between the university and municipality libraries is essential for this relationship to be fruitful.

The university is currently looking at how soon it can grant library membership to the RNM librarians. The initiative seeks to enable RNM librarians to efficiently and effectively teach Unisa students how to access library services, including unlimited access to online materials and other items not open to the public and non-Unisa students.

According to the Regional Director, Dr Joyce Myeza, the training workshop was important for both the university and the municipality, and more so for Unisa, since it will extend Unisa library services to all South Coast residents, amongst them are many Unisa students. Xolani Dubazane, Deputy Director: Academic and Technology Support, said the workshop aimed to train and share information with the trainers. They, in turn, were expected to share their training with end users – Unisa students.

He explained: “The RNM library services will assist our students by enabling them to receive Unisa library services they would otherwise only receive when they visit Unisa offices.” Dubazane said the library must be seen in a broader context of student academic support provided by the university, including learning facilitation, academic technology literacies, and counselling. He added that the library was at the centre of providing resources to assist students in studying better.

Njabulo Makhathini (Unisa Branch Librarian) explaining how the library functions

Through the partnership, the RNM library services will be an extension of the Unisa Library services. In addition, the partnership aims to ensure that students receive library services where they reside without having to travel long distances. This symbiotic relationship should benefit both the university and the municipality, but most importantly, it will help the students.

Information about library studies at Unisa, introduction to Unisa library and information services, using the library catalogue and introduction to e-resources, using reference sources, introduction to reference techniques, and admission requirements are some topics discussed during the training workshop.

On behalf of the RNM library services, Khumbulani Kunene, Senior Librarian from the RNM Library Services, thanked the university and said they had gained much from attending the training workshop.

The partnership could not have come at a better time since the Unisa Wild Coast Office was closed in 2021, and temporary accommodation in the Port Shepstone area is yet to be found. Collaboration between the university and the municipality would undoubtedly serve as a significant lifeline for students in the part of the region. Furthermore, as the university celebrates 150 years of existence, the partnership will ensure that the African intellectual future is reclaimed.


*By Siyabonga Seme, Communications Manager: KZN Region

Publish date: 2023/03/14

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