Disruptive Digital Marketing for Libraries

On Friday 18 August 2017 I had the opportunity to present at the LIASA Marketing and Advocacy Interest Group at the University of Pretoria. This was not a topic I presented on before, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading up, brainstorming with myself, and be on the lookout for examples from all over – from what I have seen and experienced abroad, but also some local and non-library related ideas. I truly believe that librarians should get out of their comfort zones and preach to those who do not know or visit the library. It does not make sense to market within the library. Use the amazing digital tools to reach the masses out there, and help SA become a learning & researching nation again.


Canadian Experience August 2017

Early this year I was invited to present a paper at the annual PKP Conference in Canada. Being an OA advocate and huge PKP OJS supporter, I could not wait for the time to come. It was great catching up with all on new OJS developments during the past week, and Canada for sure made an incredible impression on me.

PKP OJS is a community funded initiative, also through erudit which is a huge funder in Canada, focusing on research communication initiatives. The PKP Team indicated that PKP software and especially OJS, is one of the flagship projects of which the country is very proud. The people working on PKP are from all over, and not centrally based, although Brian Owen and Kevin Stranack are at Simon Fraser University, which is the home for this software.

OJS 3 offers new functionalities, and OJS 3.2 soon to be released. It will among others allow for versioning. Impactstory has partnered with PKP so that altmetrics on article level can also be monitored. This is a very exciting development. It will also be much easier to edit themes in the new versions, and the developers have been thinking of a WordPress on top of OJS, which would be great.

Great work is being done in terms of the PKP Open Typesetting Stack tool, used to convert PDF to XML. In future the PKP tool will be using Texture, allowing for a WYSIWYG editor, making XML documents very neat and HTML completely obsolete. While at the sprint Nadine Wubbeling (ASSAf Colleague) was contacted and she responded with a few bugs in the parsing tool. It was forwarded to the PKP developers who indicated that they will have a look at it. Two other questions I had from a technical viewpoint was also successfully attended to.

Some of you previously asked about a more user-friendly email alert when a new issue/notification goes out from the system. One can use a third party system such as MailChimp, but the developers recommend customizing the html in the email Notifications template, so that it looks more exciting, and for the system to keep track and centrally archive all communication. You are welcome to ask this list if you need help.

It was interesting to learn that Canada also still has journals available in print only.

The African Open Science Platform initiative will definitely assist in learning more about scholarly publishing initiatives in Africa, and help spreading the word in terms of the use of ORCID ID, digital preservation, and more. Many links between AOSP and Open Access as we know and understand it.

Norges Arktiske Universitet has made great progress with using Dataverse along OJS. See https://dataverse.no/ . See the OJS installation at http://septentrio.uit.no/ They also use DSpace for their institutional repository: https://munin.uit.no/

One of the remarks on Twitter following the presentation in which I indicated not all of Africa was well connected to the Internet and that data is very expensive in some parts of Africa, was that lack of access to the Internet can become the new “paywall”. Although research might be available as open access, it doesn’t make sense if one does not have access to the Internet to use it. I fully agree with the mention on Twitter.

The audience found the way we utilize Google Scholar to monitor article citations very clever and innovative, and also of interest was the approach to encourage universities and societies to have their own federated OJS installation, and publish their own journals, since all the expertise are at the institutions anyway: editor, reviewers, authors, IT.

The presentations and recordings will all be added to the PKP Conference page soon.

Open Source Software Philosophy
A personal note on the use of Open Source Software: We need to understand the Open Source Software philosophy better. It belongs to all, and all who use it should assist with improving the software, and take equal responsibility. Since it is used to build skills and empower people, there is not a well-paid service provider from which we can demand to fix things. We also need to understand that nothing is perfect – not even commercial software for which we pay lots of money. It is expected from the user community to help find solutions, and not to pass on the responsibility every time we run into a problem. It is up to whoever publish journals to choose what they want to use to publish, and if it is OJS, then be part of a community of great people who allows things to evolve organically, are good to one another, don’t find fault constantly, and who does things for a bigger cause. OJS is not dependent on us, and it is our choice to use it/not use it, and in the spirit of OS. To them all journals are equally important, and SA journals are not more important than others, regardless of how high profile the journal might be. Bugs are resolved based on funding available, and the purpose for which the funding was made available.

Please make use of the community help tools to solve bugs and to ask questions. Unfortunately the PKP OJS team is very small, and although stunning and extremely helpful people, and  very polite, they have quite a lot of work and cannot attend to all individual requests always. See https://forum.pkp.sfu.ca/

Africa OJS Mailing list
To make communication with one another easier, I was thinking to invite you to join a Google Group (mailing list) for OJS users. Completely optional, and for all to use, to ask, exchange info about OJS, and more. No other objective than to make communication easier. And it will belong to all equally, evolving organically. J I love the PKP approach of allowing all to evolve organically, without trying to control things too much.

All in all it was such a great experience, and it was great sharing all the SA initiatives with others from all over the world. Proud of all the work all have been doing and continue doing ….


Takeaways from the CODATA-RDA Summer School in Trieste, Italy, 7-21 July 2017

During the past 2 weeks I had the opportunity to participate in a CODATA-RDA Summer School on Open Science and Open Data at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP). Thank you ASSAf for this great opportunity!

The main takeaway from this workshop of 2 weeks: Science is becoming increasingly data driven, and roles, responsibilities, skills so dynamic. Constant adaptation needed, and the only way to stay abreast lifelong self-learning. Expertise develops with time, if you are prepared to up-skill yourself and open yourself for new learning.

Some suggestions:

Things are moving quite fast, and according to research we need much, much more data to inform new trends, find solutions to problems.

We only become experts if we are prepared to learn new things. Nothing static anymore.

I also made use of the opportunity to do an impromptu presentation on the African Open Science Platform on the Monday evening 🙂

My journey as LIASA Librarian of the Year continues ….


Don’t wait for things to happen, and wait for someone else to make it happen. Go out yourself and make things happen, be that someone. This is an important wisdom I would like to carry with me for the rest of my life. LIASA offers an excellent platform to reach out and influence directions of the profession in many ways. When I was awarded Librarian of the Year, I took the decision to use the award money to start a business for something I believe in and am passionate about. The business is called In the Cloud, and currently in the process of being SAQA accredited. Through this business I would like to help librarians, teachers, learners and more to become digital citizens, having the necessary skills to know which tools to use when, and for which purpose. I would like to once again thank the LIASA Librarian of the Year sponsors for awarding me the title, and to the Gauteng North Branch for electing me and having me representing them.

Once one has decided to make something happen, it can only be a success if you work as part of a team and if others share the same passion. During the week of 3 to 7 July, In the Cloud, SAPNet (one of the sponsors of the LIASA Librarian of the Year award), the Blue Bus Community Ministries and Hindle High School in Delft, Western Cape, put together efforts to present a digital citizenship course to Grade 11 and 12 learners from the Hindle High School. Thank you SAPNet for your valuable sponsorship – the learners enjoyed the food (breakfast, tea, lunch) served every day so much, and thank you for renting laptops so that each learner could have a hands-on experience. The computers of the school were unfortunately stolen, and the school does not have the money to replace it at this stage. Thank you Hindle High School and staff for allowing us to present this workshop to the learners, for allowing us to use the school classroom and staff room, as well as the school Internet to do the training. Thank you Blue Bus Community Ministries for the special work you do in uplifting conditions and learners in the community, and for making this possible, together with the other stakeholders. And then – thank you to my business partner for In the Cloud and her willingness to make this dream come true. We took personal leave to conduct this training, and also paid our own flights, car rental and accommodation while in the Western Cape. All in all this intervention was extremely successful, because of the work of people who were prepared to make things happen. Not only did the learners benefit, but personally I have experienced so much determination, and eagerness among the learners to learn as much possible. They even sacrificed the first week of their school holiday to attend the workshops each day from 9:00 in the morning until 16:00 in the afternoon.

Photo & design by Monet Smith Photography

Each day started with rusks and coffee, followed with a recap of work done the previous day. This would be in the form of questions and answers, and a group quiz on Wednesday caused huge excitement! The program covered the following, which was contextualized specifically for the needs experienced by grade 11 and 12 learners:

  • What is digital citizenship?
  • The world of work and my options following school, incl. entrepreneurship
  • Creating a business logo using Paint
  • Word processing using Word, incl. typing my CV
  • Using Excel to compile a budget and keep track of finances
  • Creating a slideshow with PowerPoint
  • Accessing the Internet using web addresses, and completing an online evaluation form
  • Life skills, incl. self-confidence, presenting, self-care and more
  • The power of webinars

During the week the learners worked towards coming up with a new business idea, to start their own business. A colleague from the Academy of Science of South Africa, Tsepo Majake, conducted a webinar on Thursday, during which he shared some thoughts on science as a career, Quest magazine and challenged the learners with some exciting mathematical problems. Tsepo was assisted by Nozuko Hlwatika, another great colleague of mine! Thanks so much to both of them for being willing to participate! On the Friday the learners presented their work, and the “judges” (or “funders”) (incl. a few teachers and the headmaster) were all speechless because of the quality, the level on which they delivered, and the questions they asked one another. They had to convince potential “funders” to invest money in their business, following presenting their business case. They were expected to evaluate one another, and to think critically. And did they take it seriously! They also evaluated the course through responding to 5 questions that encouraged them to do some introspection. The questionnaire was compiled with Google Forms, and the results can be viewed at https://loy2016blog.wordpress.com/

Since I had to leave for Trieste, Italy on Friday afternoon, I could not attend on Friday, but was on edge all day and thinking of them! So sorry I had to miss out, but the rest of the team made everything such a special experience for the learners!

I am still struggling to find words to describe this experience. Maybe it can be captured in one word – proud. I am so proud of these learners for not being the victims of their circumstances. They all have dreams for a better future, and where there is a will, there is a way. And they have already made the choice ….

I was sad saying goodbye to all, but thankful for being able to play a very small role in helping them to discover new talents and passions using technology as a tool. I wish them well, and think of them every day. I hope to one day learn about the positive direction their life’s took because of people not keeping a blind eye, but people who wants to make a difference and understand that these inequalities need to be addressed in a tangible way. Thank you to my business partner and In the Cloud, SAPNet, Hindle High School, Tsepo Majake, and Blue Bus Community Ministries. Thank you also to Monet Smith Photography for sponsoring a photo shoot to each of the members of the winning team, and thank you to the sponsor of the Woolworths gift vouchers.

The poster to be presented at the LIASA Conference in October will be dedicated to the learners and donated to Hindle High School, in memory of this life-changing event.

The photos were taken by Mr David Martin, Blue Bus Photographer.

View the photo album.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read the Blue Bus Community Ministries newsletter in which this event was featured.

Feedback from the learners after they have completed the evaluation form:

What is the most valuable thing you learned about yourself during the past

  • I can remember things slow when the laptop is not in front of me. I can do things on the laptop better. I can get confused when I need to say the words of the tools.
  • I learnt that I can work well in a group.
  • I learnt that I can work under pressure.
  • That I am able to work on the computer and on Microsoft.
  • That I am capable of doing anything if I just put my mind to it and also that I’m a very competitive person and that pushes me to always do my best.
  • I adapt quick, and I am a fast learner.
  • That I can do anything that is required of me with the necessary help.
  • That I can communicate well with people and that I actually feel an attachment to computers.
  • That I am able to do more digital work than what I could do before.
  • I’m a hard worker and I’m good when I’m working with other people.
  • I can work with others and I am a fast learner.
  • I work well in silent & I can manage my own space.
  • That I’m a very quick learner.
  • I can work with people and I can work under pressure.
  • I learned of my artistic side through Paint and I enjoy computers.
  • The most valuable thing that I have learned about myself is that I am a fast learner and that I can apply what I have learned.
  • I learnt how to use a computer quickly and easier. I learnt a lot of things that I knew that they existed but didn’t know how to use them for example Power Point, Excel and Paint.
  • I learned that I am a fast learner and I am good in computers.
  • I actually learned to let go of my fears to like communicate to people. The most valuable I learned was when we worked on the computers with all these different programs like Excel, PowerPoint, Word etc.
What is the most valuable thing you learned about technology during the past week?
  • I can communicate with someone overseas through Skype, do budget on Excel, search on Google.
  • I learnt that technology is actually very easy to use.
  • I learnt that technology is very much fast and it makes life easier.
  • Technology is able to do many things on only one click and it provides shortcuts.
  • It makes our lives easier and faster.
  • It helps a lot and its the most valuable thing.
  • That it can be managed if you know how.
  • That you can communicate with people around the world while you are at one place (it feels like you are there with them).
  • That it is not a bad thing, as long as you are able to use it correctly.
  • Is that technology does almost everything by itself and by doing that it makes our lives much easier.
  • How you can hyperlink your work and how smart a laptop is. You can edit your images and cut and paste it, you can also copy and past your stuff. I learned how to work on Excel with numbers and it gave me the correct answer without thinking.
  • Technology is exciting and can help you save much time and energy.
  • It makes life so much easier and saves me a lot of time.
  • Technology makes life easier than I thought and it’s not that difficult to actually use a computer.
  • How to prepare a business plan.
  • That with technology everything is easier.
  • That it makes difficult things much easier and quick.
  • I learned that technology is so clever these days and it makes everything easier and makes life easier.
  • The most valuable thing I learned about technology was when a person from Pretoria video called one of my colleagues right here in Cape Town.
What was the most difficult thing you learned during the past week?
  • Doing a business plan even though I have no idea of it using Power Point.
  • The most difficult thing I learnt is creating a business logo.
  • PowerPoint.
  • Excel budgets.
  • How to create a budget.
  • How to manage Microsoft Excel.
  • How to set up a PowerPoint in the correct way.
  • Preparing for the presentation.
  • Microsoft Excel.
  • There was nothing difficult, because we had assistance when we didn’t understand what to do.
  • It was to cut and paste my photo from Paint to Word document.
  • Nothing – our facilitators made learning so easy for me.
  • It was the business proposal part because I did not know anything about business but it was not very difficult because I got guidelines from the educators.
  • How to prepare a business budget.
  • Microsoft Excel.
  • Using Excel was a bit tricky for me.
  • The most difficult thing I learned during the past week was Excel but then at the end I did understand it.
  • Was when I could not work with the Word program.
Which part of the learning did you excel at, and why do you say so?
  • Doing CV, Paint, insert picture. Because I can remember it better.
  • Excel, I found my way around it much quicker than in the other parts.
  • Word, because my computer teachers gave me nice compliments on my curriculum vitae.
  • Word processing, I was able to complete many activities without the instructors help.
  • The PowerPoint presentations, because its easy and something I like doing.
  • Microsoft Word, it was easy and very useful.
  • Word was something that I think I excelled at because I found it very easy to learn and manage correctly thereafter.
  • The painting and typing part, it was nice. More like playing around. It was fun.
  • I excelled at copying and pasting.
  • Its when we were doing PowerPoint because I’m a very creative person.
  • The part where we did our CV’s. It was fun in a way.
  • Excel. Because I managed doing what was expected of us at my first try.
  • Everything. I might just not be competitive in all, but I can work through what I’ve been taught.
  • Using Word document, because it was something I did before.
  • Paint. I draw very good and I don’t get stuck.
  • Being able to create my own PowerPoint presentation and CV, because I haven’t struggled a lot.
  • Paint because it is fun, you play with shapes, colour them and that was super fun.
  • The part of the learning I excel at was at PowerPoint.
  • I only excelled at the questions that was asked. The actual reason I say is because the questions that was asked we revised over.

Which other training do you think is needed for school learners?

  • How to use Internet and Google search.
  • Public speaking.
  • Connecting to a projector.
  • Computer training.
  • Music lessons. I think our school needs a band.
  • Cooking Courses/training.
  • They should definitely start training the learners in nets training because our country is one of the weak countries in terms of that.
  • Lots more visual and practical learning.
  • How to use social media wisely.
  • Its teaching about Gmail because it is the most common communicating thing these days.
  • I do not know at this moment, but i think we need more skills. This was only the basics.
  • Sport admin.
  • Many learners finds it difficult to present, because of their shyness. So public speaking skills.
  • It is to train the learners on how to build their career choices and help to choose their careers correctly.
  • Sports.
  • How to type faster.
  • A training that would give learners pre-training of the careers that they would like to pursue.
  • The training I think is needed for school learners is computer training.
  • Computer Applications Technology.
If somebody were to ask you about your experience, what would you say?
  • I can do things on the laptop when I see it, I can do a CV and other few things.
  • AMAZING!!!!!!!
  • It was a life changing experience.
  • I have learnt a lot of new skills and learnt how to apply some of the skills.
  • It was very fun and educational. I’ve learned so much computer skills that I can apply in my school work. The ability to work with computers is really going to make my life and school work a lot easier and manageable.
  • Its an awesome experience, valuable and you learn a lot.
  • Awesome.
  • I would tell them that I had the opportunity to experience how to actually work on a computer in the correct way and I could gain lots of knowledge that I can share with other people.
  • GREAT and LIFE CHANGING, because I learned a lot about the computer.
  • I’ve learned a lot of things about technology and it was so easy and fun but also tricky.
  • It was a great experience because I have learned a lot during this week and a person can learn quick when you pay attention in class.
  • I had fun, I enjoyed observing new knowledge and experiencing much easier ways to get things done using a PC.
  • Learning-full!!!
  • My experience was a great one because I did not only get to learn about computer skills but I also got to interact with different people from different backgrounds and that gave me knowledge to accept people from where ever they come from.
  • I can now work on Microsoft apps rather than I was a week ago.
  • It was a remarkable experience, because I had the privilege to get computer classes for free and I learned things which people are still struggling with.
  • It was phenomenal. I enjoyed waking up every morning and meeting blessed people, Annamarie, Ina and my colleagues.
  • I would say I experienced so much about computer skills such as Excel, PowerPoint, Word, Internet.
  • I would tell the person everything I learned afterwords. I would advise them to also get the training.