Poster at the LIASA Conference

 

Interview on Monday 10 October 2016

My name is Ina Smith, and it is my privilege to represent the LIASA Gauteng North Branch as Librarian of the Year today. I am passionate about the role libraries and librarians can play in changing the lives of the community for the better. My road travelled can be described as moving from a digital immigrant to a digital native to a digital citizen, living in a digital ecosystem along with other digital citizens. I thoroughly enjoy learning new digital skills on a continuous basis, at the same time contextualizing technology and applying it to the world of information and research, demonstrating to others how it can be used to benefit and empower all.

Balance is so important in an ecosystem, where the various components live in harmony. A digital citizen in a digital ecosystem lives in harmony with technology, and in a balanced ecosystem, all have equal access to quality information with equal opportunities to become empowered. In a balanced ecosystem, all are assisted to equally acquire digital information literacy skills. SA is in desperate need of digital citizens who understand that

  • They have a right to access online information, and know how to access it
  • know how and where to search for quality information, and how to evaluate that information
  • successfully engage online in terms of finances, doing online banking, purchasing online
  • communicate and publish online via email, facebook, and more, in an ethical and responsible way
  • behave appropriately when online,
  • are law abiding when online – citing resources, collecting data, request ethical clearance
  • Digital rights & responsibilities – register learners online
  • Health & Wellness – take good care of themselves
  • Digital security – protect their online identity

This interactive poster demonstrates the dynamic world we live in. New information is generated every day. It is important that existing and new information is continuously accessible to solve current and new problems. We are all also aware that the medium for information exchange is more and more becoming digital, which has a far wider reach.

We need information from all over the world, but also African information to solve African problems. This missing piece of the puzzle to demonstrate that African research and other related information is not visible and accessible enough, and that publishing using online open access initiatives can help solve the problem – therefore the background of this missing piece resembling computer generated code.

Through the work I do, I want to train and empower the South African community. I am only one individual in this ecosystem we live in, and through training, I can impact on the lives of all. Through training other librarians from all sectors or sub-systems, librarians can in turn train their fellow colleagues and their users. Whether they are toddlers, school learners, students, working adults or senior citizens. Indirectly I want to help empower others, so that they can live a better live and take better care of themselves and the world we live in, at the same time becoming entrepreneurs, something South Africa desperately needs, with reference to the National Development Plan.

This presentation also speaks to the Transformation Charter, where the various sub-systems are encouraged to work together. An example: the research process in essence remains the same regardless of our information needs – whether you are a primary school learner having to do a school project on the life cycle of the silk worm, a student doing an assignment on the impact of colonialism on our country’s history, a medical practitioner having to stay up to date with new developments in health science, a researcher trying to find ways to purify salty sea water for human consumption, a mom who wants to start a new hobby, or a senior citizen wanting to start a vegetable garden, or doing research on personal health problems. We need access to information throughout our lives, and I want to make sure librarians are skilled to assist users in terms of addressing various needs, right through the information research lifecycle.

For people to become entrepreneurs, they need to apply critical thinking. Blooms taxonomy of learning domains demonstrates learning in action.  Through research we are constantly trying to un-puzzle and better understand our world to make it more sustainable. It is simply not enough to have access to information, and finding it. In order to use online information and technology to solve real-live problems, all citizens need to understand (make sense) of information and the results of research conducted, remember (recall) it for future use, apply it in new ways, analyze it, evaluate it and make judgements, put information together to be used in a new way, and finally create new thinking, and innovate, which will be resulting in entrepreneurs. We need to develop human potential, and can do so if all can become responsible and information literate digital citizens. This can be done if all understand how to become lifelong self-learners within the digital ecosystem.

“The ecological approach encourages us to think of South African LIS in such a way that where the flows of resources diminish, for example to school libraries, we will recognise that because of our interdependence, the weakness of one component has the potential to weaken other components.”

  • Framework of principles and mechanisms for LIS to contribute to:
    • Elimination of illiteracy and inequality
    • Promote information literacy
    • Building a modern, efficient, equitable library and information (eco)system
    • Building an informed and reading nation
  • Connection between integration of library and information services, the diffusion of information technologies, improved literacy and information literacy levels, citizenship, and the evolution of social cohesion and employment levels in the economy as a whole
  • Reading literacy, information literacy and information technologies within an integrated services system, could become the critical ingredients of economic growth and social development

“For South Africa to be competitive, it is important that it keeps up with the global trends in the provision of modern LIS that exploit all the benefits of ICTs.

The LIS sector’s capacity to contribute to the nation’s ability to convert knowledge into innovations and wealth will determine its value to the nation.”

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