Quality assurance practices in university libraries in South Africa

Luyanda Dube

Abstract


Key to the transformation of the South African higher education landscape has been the introduction and enhancement of quality assurance practices. The implementation of quality assurance mechanisms in the sector has also affected academic libraries, as they are not static, free-standing entities but are part of universities and their academic culture. Evidently, quality assurance is no longer an option, but a critical reality as libraries in general are under immense pressure to prove their worth in competition with other information enterprises, and are also facing budget cuts (Kinnell, Usherwood, & Jones 1999; Tam 2000). Academic libraries, in particular, are facing the extra challenge of striving to align quality initiatives and practices not only with the overall mission and goals of the university, but also with the fitness for purpose quality principle by which universities are judged by the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC). The study utilised questionnaires and document analysis to collect data and targeted officers in academic libraries who deal with quality assurance matters or issues as well as policy or other related documents. The results showed that quality assurance practices in academic libraries vary. They range from active and integrative processes for maintaining and improving quality to those that are feeble and not well developed. However, there is general commitment towards instilling a quality culture, encouraging a best practice, participative approach, continuous improvement and satisfying the needs of the customer. As one of its recommendations, the study highlights the need to enhance the depth and breadth of quality assurance initiatives and to create more avenues for sharing best practices.

Keywords


Quality; quality assurance; academic libraries and higher education landscape

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7553/77-1-64

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