Department of Library Services Newsletter - Issue 2 - 2020

01 May 2020
This newsletter is intended to convey the events and news of the Department of Library Services. Enquiries can be directed to Elsabé Olivier (email: [email protected]).

News and Events

UP Library Services is ready to support online learning, teaching and research for its academic community during COVID-19 lockdown

The library is working hard to ensure that most of the library’s resources are available and accessible during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

The library is working hard to ensure that most of the library’s resources are available and accessible during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Most library sites are now available and can be accessed without incurring data costs through

As one of the top university libraries in Africa, with the biggest collection of e-journals and an e-book collection that’s increasingly growing, thanks to the financial support from University Management, we are confident that we will be able to support our community’s information needs during the pandemic and beyond. The library is satisfied that students and staff have been increasingly downloading and accessing online e-books and e-journals.

The library will prioritise the digital curation of most of our university’s research outputs, such as retrospective theses and dissertations. In the meantime, a task team is currently scanning selected book chapters from the Study Collection and other items only available in hard copy format. The on-demand service items will now appear via the popular clickUp app to enable wide access by students. The request for this service has suddenly increased since lockdown. This process of making reading and study material available to students will unlock access to most reserved materials in the library in accordance with the provisions of DALRO and Copyright Act of South Africa, 1978.

Our library commercial partners, booksellers, vendors and publishers have responded positively by providing some items in open access mode in conjunction with HEIs to assist students and researchers worldwide. The South African Licence Consortium (SANLiC) is leading the university libraries to navigate and discuss deals and agreements on e-journal resources. We foresee financial turbulences for the libraries globally, as we adapt and adopt more and more online resources and services. The library may need to seek financial support for more e-resources should the pandemic cause further challenges in regard to the re-opening of the physical spaces.

Meanwhile our goal is to create virtual spaces to replace the learning and research commons in the interim, so that hands-on skills for searching and using tools, often provided by the library, do not disappear owing to obstacles caused by the coronavirus.  We have designed flexible digital workshops in this regard.  Some of our library users have started using our virtual platforms effectively since we closed the library to cater for level 5 lockdown. We can now attend to all inquiries and individual reference support is available remotely. The information specialists introduced Libguides a while ago, as part of our instructional information resources, and they have refined them to enable users to find many ways of contacting us, such as via Ask a LibrarianChat to a Librarian, or chatting to the robot librarian, Libby. Since the University launched the first robot librarian in Africa, the library has strategically set up Libby to interact with users, by directing and prompting them to choose simple self-service options that the library has made available to students and staff.  

Library Services and Operations

The Department of Library Service’s primary concern is to ensure the health and safety of students and staff. It will maintain close contact with the University’s COVID-19 response team, and adjust its operations as and when needed.

  • Access to Collections: Online resources (e-books, e-journals, e-theses and dissertations, databases, etc.) will continue to be available 24/7 to support the needs of students and staff.
  • Contact us: Users should, as far as possible, consult the library website, subject guides or use the contact list of information specialists who will work online and respond to email queries. The Ask Librarian service or reach out to LibChat will be an essential channel to contact the DLS. This platform will be monitored from 07:00 to midnight.
  • Renew Library Resources: During the library closure, all resources can be renewed online. Users can check their status on items online on their My Library Account. If you have any questions, please contact us using Ask Librarian.
  • Interlibrary Loans: The library will continue to provide interlibrary loan services for electronic services only.
  • Library Course Reserves: All library reserves will be available on GV. However, library print services are not available as long as our facilities are closed.  Please email your faculty library contact person to discuss options on how to access materials online.  Students are encouraged to check with their lecturers if they have questions about reserved course reading materials.

The library’s information specialist will be available remotely to assist faculty staff members to reserve course reading material or to find alternative course content, including openly licensed teaching materials such as Open Educational Resources (OERs). 

  • Remote Research Support: The library will assemble resources and tools for Remote Instruction for postgraduates and researchers. Information specialists provide online research support for undergraduate students and faculty staff, and the Research Commons will support postgraduate students and researchers.
  • Special Collections: Physical items in Special Collections that can be used on site are not available. Staff will be available to support the needs of researchers who are working remotely and can provide some virtual reference services and support classes and research needs. 
  • Open Scholarship Services: The RDM and Open Scholarship teams will continue to support research data management, open access publishing, copyright and the archiving of Electronic Theses & Dissertations, research articles to UPSpace and datasets to research data repository.
  • Book a Virtual Meeting: This is a new service the DLS will offer for anyone seeking to virtually meet library staff, especially as a research support service.  

As the coronavirus continues to rage, the library wishes to draw everyone’s attention to the UP open science agenda. This is supported by our institutional policies such as our Research Data Management policy, open access and the archiving of ETDs and published journal articles in the repository, UPSpace.  Our open access policies and the ORCID strategy, which promote researcher and institutional internet visibility as well as research impact should, going forward, be viewed as enablers of open education and research in the digital era. All our academics and researchers should really consider supporting open access and the use of OERs, which have suddenly become vital sources of supplementary academic resources, as they are freely available on the internet, as good educational material. Please find a few examples that DLS has placed on the open resources list: openbooksOpen Textbook libraryOER CommonsHathiTrust, and other collections at other various universities and research institutions.

Students and staff who need assistance, here are our contact details:

WhatsApp: +27 66 509 1285

Undergraduate support: [email protected]

Postgraduate support: [email protected]   

Open Scholarship Services: [email protected]

Research Data Management: RDM

Ask a Librarian

Chat to a librarian

Subject-specific information specialists

Follow UP Library Services on our social media platforms FacebookTwitter and Instagram for useful tips and communications.

Also, check out our most FAQ (frequently asked questions) or submit your own question.

We are here for you!

- Author: Lazarus G Matizirofa
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