About Us

Thursday, 8 February 2018

The Director of Libraries (UKZN) talks about the Libraries

By S. Munshi and T. Munsamy

Director of UKZN Libraries
Mrs Joyce Myeza

From the outside, the Library is an architectural masterpiece and once inside, you immediately know you have stepped into a Library due to the organizational layout. According to Albert Einstein, “The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” When Borges wrote “Paradise is a library, not a garden” he captured the concept of the library as a palace for the mind, connecting readers to the generations of works – from maps, manuscripts and incunabula to the new online resources of today. If the physical form is the key to our identity, the question arises as to what our collections should be in such times of change. Many of these trends reflect fundamental changes in scholarly communication in the networked age that contribute to scholarship, often in anticipation of shifts in the academy and changes in scholarly communication.

Therefore, we can assume that the main foundation and pillar of any institution is its Library. Our Library has played and will continue to play its role despite the shortage of funds and any shortcomings compounded by the lawlessness of students - as we found out from the Director of our libraries, Mrs Joyce Myeza.

Mrs Joyce Myeza is a family woman with 3 children. She did her first degree at UNISA where she obtained her BA and later enrolled at UKZN for a Postgraduate Diploma in Information Studies, and an Honours degree, and later Master of Information Science at Simmons College, Boston, MA (USA). In terms of experience, she has worked for about 23 years in the library field. She joined UKZN library in January 2010 and became director of library services in 2015. She is currently registered for a PhD.

Question: Steps taken or to be taken to improve the library facilities.
Joyce: Firstly, I would like to acknowledge what previous library leaders have done, starting from the segregated University of Westville and the University of Natal. UKZN has been lucky in terms of having people who have been capable of putting the library on the map and making people aware of the facilities. The biggest challenge currently, is that the library is an ever evolving entity, constant change needs to occur to meet the needs of users. In order to improve, funding is required, however as with years gone by and the restructuring of the University, budgets are now tight. Modern technology and infrastructure is needed to improve.

Question: Future development in the years to come.
Joyce: Making sure that the infrastructure is in line with the university strategy is a priority for the future. Focus on staff development is needed as well as; currently not enough attention is being placed on this. Digitization is the future and that needs to be catered for as well.

Question: Misuse of library facilities by students and noise levels in the library.
Joyce: We are dealing with different kinds of users at the library. We are now in a different era to when I was a student. Back then we were taught to be quiet, disciplined and follow orders. Today’s era of users is different and the library may need to be flexible when dealing with them. I do not believe disciplinary action will come back and if it ever did return I cannot envisage it being done effectively. With regards to the noise levels, recent studies have shown that most students prefer to learn in a noisy environment. We as staff are not here to change students, we need to accept them for who they are and adapt our services to cater for all types of students. Currently, the third floor (EG Malherbe library) is an area where students can partake in conversations and this area needs to be improved upon as students are still using other floors for loud conversations.
With new infrastructure, the culture at the library will change and students will need to adhere to it and realise that there are designated areas for them. These areas will be floors where they can have group discussions and meetings and a place to eat. The other floors will be for studying purposes and silence will be required on these floors at all times.

Question: Shortage of books and library budget.
Joyce: To my knowledge, the buying of books and the book budget is always healthy. If shortages of books do occur, it could be a result of miscommunication between particular college librarians as opposed to a limited budget. 

Question: Steps taken in assisting the physically challenged student.
Joyce: Thus far the steps taken have included the re-allocation of spaces for students who are physically challenged. Level three of the Westville campus library have a designated an area for these students to use. We are in contact with the disability unit to try and get the numbers at the beginning of each year to know exactly how many physically challenged students there are at each campus.

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