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Tuesday 30 April 2024

Academic Libraries Participating in Promoting Open Science


Open Science, the movement to enhance accessibility to scientific information at all levels of society through collaborative networks, has impacted the crucial role academic libraries play in the area of information sharing, hence there is an ever-growing emphasis on new innovations which aim to encourage access to and networking of information and skills. In the period of 30 years of democracy there have been new developments to promote Open Science in libraries, such as digitisation and dissemination of information largely through institutional repositories, use of artificial intelligence (AI), collaboration between academic libraries and the growth of a personalised librarian service.

The creation of the African Open Science Platform (AOSP) in 2017, hosted by the National Research Foundation aims to develop policy, governance, enabling practices and institutional frameworks to support the development and deployment of Open Science in South African higher education institutions. The focus is to prioritise capacity building through networking, infrastructure capacitation and a federated system for researchers to create, deposit, manage and share data, since it has been identified that research data management and information sharing capacity are lacking in universities. In some higher institutions there is a lack of capacity and ability to coordinate information sharing of research on a local as well as a national basis. Most academic libraries are now set to kick start the implementation of Open Science in South Africa at the national level and across universities in the country.

Academic libraries are deliberately focusing on institutionalising Open Science and   Open Access Repository in South Africa. In academic libraries, there is a need to adopt formal policies and invest in appropriate infrastructure to convince researchers to support this initiative and record progress in their research.

According to Ngulube (2024) the Open Science movement is on the same trajectory regarding the need to share knowledge, irrespective of the origin as envisaged in the pronouncements made by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),  International Communication Association (ICA) and International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).


However, many issues and difficulties arise when managing institutional knowledge in a digitised environment. The Open Science movement recognises access to information as a basic human right, and asserts that access should be equitable and fair.  The underlying principle of the Open Science movement is that data should be findable, accessible, interoperable and usable.

Open access publishing offers wide benefits to the scholarly community and may also afford relief to financially embattled academic libraries. The progress of the open access model rests upon the acceptance and validation of open access journals and open archives or institutional repositories by the academic mainstream, particularly by publishing researchers.

In addition, open access publishing offers wide-ranging benefits to the scholarly community and may also afford relief to financially embattled academic libraries. The progress of the open access model rests upon the acceptance and validation of open access journals and open archives or institutional repositories by mainstream academia and particularly by publishing researchers (Fullard, 2007). Faculty librarians can act as change agents by informing and advocating for open access within the departments they serve.


In South Africa, libraries are progressively establishing the foundation for enhanced services, achieving varying degrees of success. This evolution includes formulating policies, building infrastructure, training library staff, and conducting awareness and advocacy campaigns aimed at academic staff and researchers. However, these efforts are met with challenges, such as limited resources and infrastructure, as well as a notable scarcity of data management skills among library personnel.


The University of KwaZulu-Natal has an achievement on the digitisation of information for easy access to the users. The university academics are publishing their journals in the open access to promote easy access of the information. The university is enhancing library services by integrating cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), aiming to automate repetitive tasks and streamline operations.


In conclusion, South African academic libraries have made significant progress in facilitating user access to information in a convenient and free manner. This advancement has notably enhanced the quality of education, ensuring users no longer face obstacles in their information search. A prime example of this is the University of KwaZulu-Natal's investment in an extensive collection of e-books, ensuring everyone can easily access the information they need.



Chiware, E., & Mathe, Z. (2015). Academic libraries' role in research data management services: A South African perspective. South African Journal of Libraries and Information

Fullard, A. (2007). South African responses to open access publishing: a survey of the research community. South African Journal of Libraries and Information Science, 73(1), 40-50.

Ngulube, P. (2024). From Orality to Digital Assets: Managing Indigenous Knowledge in Africa in theWake of the Open Science Movement. The Serials Librarian, 1-15

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