Re-thinking boundaries in the African LIS work place as a contribution to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals: reflections from a South African study
Purpose - In the context of the historical influence of British and American trends on the African LIS context, the current knowledge society, as well as Africa’s challenges in terms of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), this paper reports on the work-in-progress in an aspect of a wider study currently being undertaken in South Africa. The aim in this aspect of the study is to interrogate how current technology trends are impacting on LIS work place qualification and competency requirements. The intention is to re-visit traditional boundaries and demarcations in the interest of the growth and development of African LIS workers who in turn may contribute to meeting the Millennium Development Goals in a number of creative and innovative ways. Design/methodology/approach - A qualitative research approach was employed, using semi-structured interviews to collect data from purposively selected managers and staff from a sample of academic, public and special library services in South Africa. Findings - The paper emphasizes the need for LIS in Africa, particularly in the context of the current knowledge-based society and the harsh realities facing African communities, to contribute to the attainment of the MDGs in Africa. In attempting to make this contribution, the paper recommends that the African LIS work place must not allow itself to be constrained by qualification and other work place boundaries that are legacies of the past, as evidenced in the limited study reported in this paper which demonstrates lessons of innovation as well as instances of restriction. Originality/value - The paper calls for a paradigm shift in terms of qualification and other work place boundaries in African LIS work environments so as to allow African LIS services to make a meaningful contribution towards the attainment of the MDGs. In doing this the paper also offers lessons for other developing parts of the world.