A report on the Second Biennial DISSAnet Conference Prolissa: Pretoria 2002

Luyanda Dube


The democratisation of South Africa culminated in changes and growth in the library and information science (LIS)
profession. The formation of the Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) came as a result of such
transformation. Unfortunately, most changes were more focused on strengthening the resource base in terms of material
and information technologies. Arguably, the skill of utilising these technologies at an advanced level was inappropriate
(Wormell 2002). Sewdass (2002) discloses further that very little attention was paid to human resource development,
especially in terms of research capabilities. It is believed that through research the LIS profession can make a significant
contribution to library and information theory and practice in South Africa and far beyond her borders. Menou and
Bishop, Menou, Mchombu and Miti as well as Mlaki in Mchombu (2002) all concur that LIS research should expand its
horizons to go beyond the information dissemination and use paradigm. They feel that LIS profession should be an active
element of the civil society, democratisation and global community. Fortunately, the challenge can be achieved by
conducting research on policy issues at national and international level, whilst on the other hand developing multi-faceted
knowledge relevant mostly to the African context. It is thus, crucial that the LIS profession grows and strengthens its
resolve to avoid marginalisation as one of those professions that are no longer viable in this new political dispensation.
Ultimately, the international development program for LIS research in South Africa DISSAnet was formed by Professors
Irene Wormell, Peter Ingwersen of the Royal School of Library and Information Science in Copenhagen and Theo Bothma
of the University of Pretoria in collaboration with the representatives of the Danish International Development
(DANIDA) to promote LIS research in South Africa. DISSAnet is the acronym for the Development of Information
Science in Southern Africa Network. The project was planned for six weeks over a period of three years, from 1998 to
2000. A total number of 20 registered Masters and Doctoral students were selected from different institutions of higher
learning. The main focus of project was to provide and enhance skills development specifically in scientific research, as
well as to provide a platform for networking among LIS practitioners in South Africa. This was achieved through a series
of lectures on diverse subject areas and the candidates active participation in conducting research and presenting and
publishing the output in local and international conferences and publications consecutively.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7553/68-2-749


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