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Friday, 29 September 2017

Blended Families: EG Malherbe Library

Faith Magwaza.
Do blended families co-exist at Howard College? What are blended families? A blended family is formed when separate families are united by marriage or other circumstances. (Social work dictionary: 2005).  I like to use the above definition to refer a union of the EG Malherbe Library (EGM) and the HIV and AIDs Museum. Added to the union is the inclusion of a Student Wellness Centre. EGM has become the hub of knowledge generation as well as preservation. The “marriage “of EGM and the HIV and AIDS Museum and the Students Wellness Centre has created a successful union of collections and services.  Libraries and museums have one thing in common, they are both centres of cultural heritage amongst other many roles a library plays (Gibson et al. 2007). The prediction made by Friedman (2005) regarding the benefits of connecting library services and museums has become a reality in the case of EGM and the HIV and AIDs Museum. He further states that such blending of services can bring about innovation (Tonta: 2008). The HIV and AIDs Museum attests to this fact in that users can connect to the content by scanning bar codes provided as part of the artefacts, listen to life stories in websites as well as engage with the resources of EGM.  

The packaging of the museum material is such as to make it easier to navigate the collection. The colour scheme gives a youthful, fresh look and appeals to students. HIV and AIDS is becoming destigmatised and losing its power over the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN) community. EGM Library’s embrace of the museum has brought a lasting legacy in which UKZN will have an HIV and AIDS free community in the future.

The Library has evolved, from offering traditional library services and functions to one facilitating a specialised research centre on HIV and AIDs. It has remodelled some of its spaces to accommodate additional services needed by the university community. It has further become a community centre for the university as a result of the inclusion of the Student Wellness Centre. Besides being a home of research and scholarly literature it has also become part of the solution in dealing with the scourge of the HIV virus. As a result of this initiative UKZN library is engaging itself in dealing with “real “challenges facing the university community.
Library-museum collaboration or the “blended family” has potential for transforming their spaces into collaborative networked space. Such amalgamation of resources is enabled by the use of digital technology. The reaction of students is amazing when they came into contact with artefacts and digitised collections in the Museum such as the website of life stories of HIV and AIDs victors like Nkosi Johnson. The concept of Library-museum collaboration which I term a blended family is already in existence in other parts of the world such as England and the USA; the HIV and AIDs Museum is the first of its kind in South Africa.

Online dictionary    https://workfamily.sas.upenn.edu/glossary/b/blended-family-definitions. Access date: 18 September 2017

Gibson, H., Morris, A. and Cleeve, M., 2007. Links between libraries and museums: investigating museum-library collaboration in England and the USA. Libri, 57(2), pp.53-64.

Tonta, Y., 2008. Libraries and museums in the flat world: are they becoming virtual destinations? Library Collections, Acquisitions, and Technical Services, 32(1), pp.1-9.