Training needs of general library workers:Part I (challenges facing educators in South African institutions of higher learning)

  • Hester W.J. Meyer Department of Information Science, University of South Africa
Keywords: General library workers, training needs, library and information science, tertiary learning institutions, South Africa


A recent survey by Meyer (2009) on the need for the training of general library workers revealed that employers in library services are often not aware of the conditions affecting the ability of library and information science (LIS) educators at South African tertiary institutions to deliver work ready general workers to the LIS industry. Simultaneously, LIS educators are not aware of the extent to which changes to learning programmes can affect the appointment and promotions of library staff in practice. The objectives of the study were to determine the need for a formal learning programme for general library workers and how existing study material can be adapted to develop a formal learning programme suitable for general library workers countrywide. Data was collected by means of a self-administered questionnaire directed at supervisory staff of provincial and municipal libraries in South Africa, interviews with supervisors, and consultation of relevant internal documentation on job descriptions and legislation. The findings revealed that there is a definite need for training general library workers, whether formally or informally. This article, the first of two parts, considers the challenges facing LIS educators of which employers in the LIS industry are seldom aware of. The discussion is based on a literature study regarding training of general library workers in South Africa, as well as personal experience of the impact of various conditions on the relevant learning programmes of the Department of Information Science, University of South Africa before and after merging with the former Technikon SA. It considers the implementation of legislation and policies with regard to LIS training and how LIS educators, involved in open distance learning (ODL) cope with the specific challenges for delivering work ready general library workers. Part two will deal with aspects concerning the types of task general workers perform, and the specific type of training required to ensure that these workers contribute to efficient service delivery.
Research Articles