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