A comparative study of the job functions of university and university of technology graduates and diplomates in special libraries and engineering firms
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This study investigated the job functions of university and university of technology graduates and diplomates in the staff structures of special libraries and engineering firms in KwaZulu-Natal. The objective of the study was to draw on possible trends and best practices in the latter for the Library and Information Services (LIS) work environment, as engineering like LIS draws its personnel from both traditional universities and universities of technology (UoT). Hence, the main target population for the study was university and UoT graduates and diplomates in special libraries and engineering firms in KZN. Graduates and diplomates were chosen for inclusion in the study using a census because of the smallness of the staff complements in these organizations. Two sets of self-administered questionnaires were distributed, one to graduates/diplomates and the other to employers in the selected organizations. Data collected was analysed using descriptive statistics and content analysis. Findings of the study revealed inconsistencies with the National Diploma: Library and Information Studies (ND: LIS) where these diplomates occupy paraprofessional as well as professional positions in special libraries whilst engineering graduates and diplomates tend to occupy job titles according to their highest academic qualifications. In both special libraries as well as in the engineering environment there is much task overlap and downshifting of job functions between paraprofessional and professional university and UoT graduates and diplomates. This study has revealed a valuable best practice from the engineering discipline for the LIS profession, which is that of professional registration. Professional registration of engineering staff with the Engineering Council of South Africa is a statutory requirement in the engineering profession and allows for the growth and development of those in the profession. It is recommended that the LIS profession, and the Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) specifically, investigate a mechanism for professional registration of library and information workers.