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Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Digital immigrants serving Digital natives

By : Zizipho Madibi

Before I discovered the terms “digital natives and digital immigrants” I was always asking myself how is it that the children born these days are so much more aware of technology than I am or was at their age. I remember my 2 year old niece taking selfies, knowing exactly where to go for the camera to turn on her, I was amazed. When I came across the term “digital natives” I had an aha moment, my questions were somewhat answered.

The term digital native was coined and popularized by education consultant Marc Prensky in his 2001 article entitled Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, in which he relates the contemporary decline in American education to educators' failure to understand the needs of modern students.

This generation of students has not just changed in bits and pieces such as changing the way they talk, changes in fashion and styles as it used to be in generations before. A huge disconnection has happened and there is no going back. Digital natives are different, they read blogs rather than newspapers. They often meet each other online before they meet in person. They probably don’t even know what a library card looks like, let alone having one; if they do have one, they probably have never used it.

I am a digital immigrant. I have learned about technology late in life. Sometimes I wonder how I used to do some things before the advent of information and communication technologies. Have you ever imagined how life would be without your smart phone? I cannot, yet I am an immigrant. How much more for a native, they don’t know any other world except for the digital world. They were born and raised with technology.

Now the real question is: are digital immigrants well equipped to serve digital natives? If not, what should they do to be on par with this generation? That is another subject for another blog post. Truth is, as librarians today, we are serving a generation of digital nativity and most of us are digital immigrants, we have to learn more about the ways they’d rather be taught and adapt to them. The problem here is not with them but rather with the rest of us, the “digital immigrants” who remain stubbornly attached to older media, and who are failing to catch up with the times

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

The woes and wows of being re-floored… one Librarian’s nightmare.

Claudette Kercival                                         Mukesh Kemrajh


The mammoth reflooring project of The EG Malherbe Library which reached completion on 27th of  March 2017 …literally left us floored!

For the 29 odd years that this library has been in existence, users have enjoyed the luxury of cosy carpeted floors.  In the latter months of 2015 it was decided that the flooring would be replaced with cork. I am keen to see whether this piece will elicit some conversation as to the reasons behind the selection of this floor covering as well as its appropriateness and durability for library spaces.

I have reservations about the following issues:
  • the appropriateness and suitability and longevity of the flooring
  •  the skill level of the awarded contractor
  • the level of workmanship and the quality of completed job
Below is merely an anecdotal account of my borderline nightmarish experience on the 3rd floor.

One may wonder ‘why the woes’.  It was simply because, the ‘wows’ were short-lived no sooner had the project begun.

So let’s uncork this series of fortunate or unfortunate events for some… 

The project which commenced on 26th March 2016 was scheduled for completion in 6 months…upon reflection that was wishful thinking of a very aspirant service provider, who was replaced before the project had been completed!

Much to the dismay of staff and users alike the project laboured on until finality a year later on the 29th of March 2017.  In addition there were the student protests, non-functioning lifts and a shortage of material (cork) which further hampered/delayed the project

Needless to say, it was indeed a colossal task, which most certainly warranted the judgement of contractors who understood precisely what this extensive project implied for the library services, collections and operations.  Sadly, this was not the case.
  • Each floor had to be cordoned off. This meant restricted access to the study space and     collections by students and staff.
  • Staff offices had to be re-located until each floor was completed
  • All furniture, shelving and computers had to be moved.
  • The carpets had to be removed which was not a pleasant task at all, as this meant the resurrection of 30 years of dust in a sealed building.
  • Thereafter the embedded carpet glue had to be scraped off the concrete
  • Boxes of the treated cork were then installed with not the friendliest of smelling glues.
  • Several coats of varnish were then applied to the cork which sustained a very short-lived splendour.  Unfortunately, when real traffic trampled on these floors, the lustre soon dissipated.
As per the proposal…
  • We were assured that no books were to be moved off the shelves.  Instead, hydraulic jacks were going to elevate the shelves so that the cork could be installed causing minimum disruption to the collections.  Alas, this was not the case resulting in all shelves and books being in an utter disarray.  
  • We were also assured that all collections would be covered with heavy duty plastic, protecting the collection from the dreadfully injurious dust.  Regrettably, this again was not the case which resulted in further cleaning efforts for library staff.
  • A glaring omission was the lack of ‘project management’ and simple attention to detail which would have made some difference… but then who are we mere mortals to note that!
In the month of September 2016, when the proposed date of completion had come and gone, several disgruntled users began voicing their dissatisfaction which in turn prompted a random survey of 120 users which revealed the following:
  • The respondents were made up as follows:
o   13% Postgraduates
o   82% Undergraduates
o   5% Staff
  • 25% (predominantly undergraduates) of the respondents welcomed the new look and commented on its modern look and hygiene.
  • 62% felt that the money spent could have been put to better use to upgrade more necessary facilities.
  • 87% responded that their study and access to information was disrupted during the project
  • There were concerns about the durability of the flooring.
  • There were concerns about the slippery nature of the flooring.
Clearly an assessment of pros and cons should have been undertaken before embarking on this project.
So there you have it … one Librarian’s perspective!

Barely covered shelves

 Clearing of furniture

Cordoned off floors

Laborious manual removal of carpets
 Note the piles of books mish mashed  to be re-shelved