Journal article

From “life support” to collaborative partnership

A local/global view of academic libraries in South Africa
Libraries Digital libraries Research libraries South Africa

In response to the need to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality, the South African government developed the National Development Plan. A significant reconstruction tool is a sound educational system in which universities become centers of excellence at the cutting edge of technology. The ambitious goals of the plan presupposes an efficient academic libraries system. Unfortunately, academic libraries in South Africa, and it could be assumed that this may be the case in many parts of the global south, are at a crossroads. On the one hand, there are academic libraries that are hanging by the finest of threads (or as Jeffrey Gayton says, “on life support”). On the other hand, there are those libraries that are reinventing themselves and are moving away from providing a support service to playing a collaborative partnership role. This partnership role paradigm shift has facilitated the redefinition of roles and responsibilities of the academic library, and it is hoped that this would contribute to the ambitions of the National Development Plan.

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