Library of the Future Conference 2019 at St Andrew’s College, Grahamstown: Q & A with Vuyokazi Jamieson: head librarian at St Andrew’s College

| December 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

When will the St Andrew’s College Library of the Future conference be held?

The South African School Librarians’ conference will be held at St Andrew’s College in Grahamstown, (Makhanda) in the Eastern Cape, from 28 June to 02 July 2019. This is a two-anda- half-day conference taking place over the course of five days to allow delegates to also experience the National Arts Festival.

Why did the school decide to host the conference?

St Andrew’s College accepted the offer to host this conference when I attended the last South African School Librarians’ conference in Durban, Kearsney College in 2017. The conference is held in different provinces every second year and we are thrilled to be the host in 2019. The Cawse Library at St Andrew’s College has become a hub that provides internship programmes for South African and international trainee librarians. Local schools are already partnering with St Andrews in terms of building library communities. We are well positioned to host a conference of this nature as it will provide us with an opportunity to give back to the community. There is also a shortage of libraries in South Africa and we believe in walking together in order to walk far.

What is a library of the future to you?

I have travelled widely and had the opportunity to observe how other libraries, whether university, public or school libraries, successfully adapted to the needs of their users. St Andrew’s College prioritised the refurbishment of its library because it recognised that a school that has a well-functioning library is supporting the success of its users. To define the library of the future would be to reduce its meaning and vision and so my starting point would be to talk about the Cawse Library as a space evolving into what I deem to be the library of the future. The design concept of the Cawse Library was based on the theme the “library of the future” and as the refurbishment progressed, the building, in a sense, grew into its new name: “The Cawse Library: Centre for Reading, Learning, and Innovation”. The library of the future is one that caters for and constantly adapts itself to the changing needs of its users. A library of the future is inclusive in nature and is forward-thinking. It should be able to provide an introvert with escapism, but also it should provide collaborative spaces and be a space for a range of connections for the users – internet connectivity, social interactions, the inclusive community of like-minded people, and many other connections. In my travels I have seen many libraries that are proudly designed with the user in mind. These same libraries are still asking the question: “How do we get the users to use our space?” It is clear that if you want your library to thrive in the future, you need to consider including the creativity and ideas of the users that the space is being designed for. The Cawse Library was designed by its users and, as a result, one of the major consequences is that we are observing a healthy growth in use. The library of the future looks at its collections from the users’ point of view. The librarian takes on the roles of content curation and mentorship. In contrast to this, in an article I wrote introducing the ‘Personal Librarian’ model of library service,1 I took a look into the typical 1980’s model of library services where librarians collected information just in case the users would need it, but it actually transpired that the user was denied access to information because the librarian served to protect the collections from the users. The progression in the 1990’s changed direction with the introduction of computers where the librarians collected information with the user in mind. This free flow of access to information was a positive development for the users of the 1990’s, but lost relevance with the millennial generation who already had unlimited access to information. The library of the future seeks to take ownership out of the hands of the librarian and place it in the hands of the users making the space more personal and appealing to its target market – the users.

Category: Summer 2018

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