The merger process between libraries of MLSultan and Technikon Natal: reflections of a practitioner

Veena Jayaram

Abstract


Education Minister Kader Asmaf's plan to merge many of South Africa's tertiary institutions has given impetus to the
merger of two of the country's oldest technikons, Technikon Natal and ML Sultan, both located in the city of Durban.
This paper briefly sets out the scenario facing the institutions and the libraries, pre-merger as well as post-merger. It also
provides a cursory glimpse of a few institutional challenges, some lessons learnt, and finally some recommendations.
The primary focus of this paper is not, however, to document the process involved in the merger of the libraries of these
two institutions. This process was managed as a project, with a Project Manager being nominated from among the library
staff. Various merger structures were put in place in order to facilitate participation by all staff. A Merger Management
Committee (MMC) was established and departmental workgroups were formed consisting of relevant staff from both
libraries. Representatives from these workgroups were elected to form a Sub-Committee that served as a liaison structure
between staff and the MMC.
Regular meetings of all these groups took place as well as staff workshops and briefing meetings. Astructure/model for the
merged library was agreed to and estimates for database merger were calculated. Consensus was reached on many areas
of function and service for the merged library, with common policies and procedures being formulated. Various
committees are now working on space and HR issues.
Although this has been a voluntary merger, the newly formed Durban Institute of Technology (DIT) created out of the
merger of ML Sultan and Technikon Natal institutions, has been experiencing some turbulent times in its short history. It
is heartening to note that, from the libraries' point of view, the above has all been achieved in spite of the prevailing
cfimate of unease regarding mounting merger costs and employment uncertainty among staff.
A time-line reflecting milestones in the merger process has been listed in the Appendix. It provides additional information
and should be read in the context of the text.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7553/69-1-732

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