WSU’s library has recently been under much construction with the awarding of books worth R12.5 Million from alumnus and honorary doctoral graduate Dr. Sizwe Nxasana and the Library’s shift to e-learning.


Although the official book launch is sometime next week, we sat down with WSU Senior Director for Library and Information Services Pateka Ntshuntshe-Matshaya for a bit of a well-rounded picture of the library services at the institution.


Q: How involved is the library with academic support for students at WSU?


A: To ensure students success in their studying and learning endeavours, there should be strong partnerships fostered between the library and academics. It is through this partnership that at WSU, new students are inducted on how to use library resources and services for their learning benefits.


Books purchased in support of the university curriculum are suggested by academics whilst librarians use their networks to source the cost-effective learning materials from book suppliers and publishers. Behind all these processes there are strategies put in place to ensure relevance of the material and diversification of learning material formats the library should acquire.


Q: Kindly explain the library’s move to e-learning. What are its goals?


A: To ensure equitable access to learning and research materials across all WSU learning sites, the library subscribes to electronic resources, electronic journals and vast array of e-books relevant to courses offered by the university. It is part of the library philosophy that in this day and age ‘access to learning resources surpasses ownership, therefore, the adoption of an e-library strategy is aimed at promoting and building an e-collection that can be accessible to everyone associated with our university. Digital revolution is no longer history in the midst of higher education, the library as the heart of a university should be forefront in leading these developments. Acquiring library electronic resources and teaching academics and students on how to use the collection has two benefits: cost saving that is derived from avoiding duplication of printed collection and digital literacy that is acquired through manipulation of learning materials in e-format.


Q: How Is the WSU library equipped for the promotion of research, learning and writing in all studies provided by the university?


A: The library as a space houses large volumes of books that are multidisciplinary by nature. The library does act as a space for intellectual engagement where academics and students engage and interact with written text to create new knowledge. It is through this intellectual engagement and interaction between academics, librarians and students that research takes place. As stated above the library has various formats of research materials that are also supported by e- tools such as “Endnote” that guide researchers with techniques on how to manage sources of information they find and use for research. For research to happen, aspiring researchers should be exposed to scholarship and academic writing norms. Whilst the library is a home for research methodology books, librarians are trained to guide researchers on how to cite sources of information used and compile bibliographies following approved reference styles. The library as an integral part of the university sees itself having a role in driving research innovations such as digital scholarship services and Open Access. It is through this commitment that WSU has established an institutional repository which is an online platform that for now has 81 Masters and Doctoral thesis compiled by the university’s students.


To guide the university through the adoption of the Open Access movement, the first senate lecture on Open Access is planned for 24 October 2017. WSU library is quite aware that 13 universities in South Africa, through their libraries signed Berlin Declaration on Open Access, however, to move in that direction, it is quite important for the library to start with Open Access advocacy to bring every stakeholder especially academics and researchers on board when it comes to Open Access and implication on research practices.  


Q: Kindly explain the partnership between WSU, University of Fort Hare and UNISA in its new library building.


A: DHET generously put aside R200 Million for the three libraries to establish a state of the art 21st library in East London. This collaborative library across campuses is the first library of its kind in the history of South Africa. This four storage building will house on the first-floor UNISA staff and collection, second-floor University of Fort Hare and WSU library with no books computer workstations to pilot what Lancaster (1971) called a Paperless/ digital library.


The vision behind this library as it will be hosting the WSU library institutional teams of specialist in the digital revolution, Is to use it as a platform where new library technology Apps are tried and tested before cascaded to campuses. A specialist team will be playing a role of being “library technology innovators”, it is through this site that capacity building will be taking place.


Amongst the benefits that will be derived out of sharing the library will be “development of a specialised resource sharing system that established without compromising e-resources licence agreements, knowledge sharing amongst library teams, joint library orientation programmes for staff and students, shared 24/7 learning centre, training room and a boardroom. It is anticipated that the building will be completed on 1 March, 2018.   


Q: How is the library involved with the “Turn It In” service, and how does aim to improve academia in the university.


A: The university through the library purchased an anti-plagiarism software called “ Turnit-in”. Turnitin is anti-plagiarism software whose role is to detect the number of similarities between documents drafted.  As the university aspires to be a research university, we believe that seriousness about academic writing and scholarship should begin at undergraduate level when students are still crafting their understanding of the subject discipline.


It is, therefore, the role academics (lectures) to ensure that when assignments are given to students, there are instructions given on the number of sources to be used and how they should be acknowledged.  There are three things libraries need to get from academics to ensure their students are effectively trained to write, cite and compile bibliography:



  • When librarians understand what academics will be teaching, when and what assessment methods to use on each task- Librarians prepares and present training modules with examples that will lead students to resources relevant to the task at hand. Course outlines and learner guides should have the necessary information needed, if shared with librarians so many benefits can be obtained.




  • Anti-plagiarism (Turnitin) software training organised by the library should be attended by students with academics as observers to guide the librarians on areas to be emphasised.




  • Research supervisor through the library “ Turin-it-in “ champions should guide their postgraduate students to get assistance on plagiarism assessment.   



Q: At the recently held WSU Long Service Awards, Mrs. Mpeta from the Library and Information Services in Mthatha, was celebrated for being part of the institution for 40 years, among others. What does this mean for the Library Services moving forward?


A: The library is proud to announce that more than 10 of its staff were part of the staff awards with Mrs. Mpeta being the longest-serving staff member in the entire university. The library management and staff would like to congratulate this seasoned librarian for being so loyal to the university. It is almost 60% of library staff that have either passed through the university system when Mrs. Mpeta was a librarian or started their career under her.

The Senior Director Library and Information Services ( Ms. Pateka Ntshuntshe-Matshaya) is proud to declare that she is one of Mrs. Mpeta’s protégé.

Great leaders adapt to their surrounding environments and empower the team to succeed together (Brent Gleeson).


By: Simo Cele

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