I was privileged enough to attend the DITCHE National
Library IT Event at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan
University from the 20th to the 22nd
of May 2008. This event -
a gathering specifically for those with IT
responsibilities working in academic libraries in the
higher education sector in Southern Africa -
was hosted and sponsored by TENET.
The purpose of the event was to deepen and strengthen
the bonds that exist within the Library IT community. I
attended the gathering with my IST Library Unit Leader
Leonora Wydeman, unit member Tumishi Madihlaba and
library colleagues Ria Groenewald and Ina Smith.
The three days consisted of various presentations and
discussions with the focus on the following main
Digisation and repositories and the critical issues
and challenges in creating a digital preservation
The impact and practical application of current and
emerging technology (software and hardware) in the
The following points will indicate aspects that stood
out and drew my attention:
Greenstone Digital Library Software: making inroads into Southern Africa
A presentation delivered by Stephen Visage from UNAM
concerning a suite of software for building and
distributing digital library collections.
Greenstone is not a digital library but a tool for
building digital libraries. It provides a way of
organizing information and publishing it on the Internet
in the form of a fully-searchable, metadata-driven
digital library. It has been developed and distributed
in cooperation with UNESCO and the Human Info NGO in
Belgium. It is open-source, multilingual software,
issued under the terms of the GNU General Public
The following African digital library collections are
examples of Greenstone in action (with UNAM being
Support Project leader):
Also partaking in research and development are various
organizations from Zimbabwe and Lesotho.
What I appreciate of the software is that it is
open-source and runs on all versions of Windows, Linux
and Mac OS-X. It can also be installed on a personal
computer or laptop and you can offer content on CD-ROM.
Apparently it is very easy to install and I will test
this as soon as possible.
Technology @ the Central University of Technology, Free State’s Library
and Information Centre
A presentation delivered by Dora Ackerman and Lee
Goliath concerning IT and serving their clients’ needs.
It was quite interesting for me to hear (and see) how
their library was adapted to focus more on typical IT
Lab provision than on direct provision of Library and
Their general setup (hardware, software and security)
compares well with our established protocols.
One thing that we can learn from them is the proper use
of student helpers (“runners”) that are clearly
identifiable and assist students in the computing areas
with basic issues.
Peregrinations in the Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 world
A presentation delivered by Hennie Rautenbach concerning
new hardware and software developments that have an
impact on our daily interaction with our clients.
A broad spectrum of items was mentioned but what stood
out was the Asus Eee PC (with luck Stephen had an
example present) and the use of RSS feeds and other
electronic sources to keep abreast of developments.
The Asus Eee PC is a subnotebook computer
notable for its relatively small display, solid-state
permanent storage and MS Windows or Linux-based
A subject that Hennie brought up was the use of Thin
clients (and also Stephen brought it up and the
effectiveness of their use at UNAM) – something we can
look at for future research, testing and maybe
There were then also two presentations delivered by my
Towards a digital preservation policy for institutional repositories:
Delivered by Ria Groenewald and Ina Smith.
Very well received and indicated that they are on the
right track and that other institutions look toward our
Library for assistance and leadership.
Comtributed by Hennie Muller