Author : Jaya Raju
Scholarly communication has undergone dramatic change in the digital era as a result of rapidly evolving digital technology. It is within this context of evolving scholarly communication that this paper reports on an inquiry into (1) the extent to which university libraries in South Africa are actively embracing new and emerging trends in scholarly communication; and (2), the extent to which LIS school curricula in South Africa are responding to new and emerging scholarly communication competencies required in university libraries.
This qualitative study, located within an interpretivist epistemological worldview, was informed by the Operational Elements of Scientific Communication aspect of Khosrowjerdi’s (2011) Viable Scientific Communication Model.
Data was collected using summative content analysis of university library job advertisements over a four-year period; South African university libraries’ organizational organograms; and course descriptions available on the websites of South Africa’s LIS schools.
RESULTS & DISCUSSION
A review of job advertisements and organograms shows that on the whole university libraries in South Africa are embracing the new and emerging trends in scholarly communication, but some university libraries are performing better than others in adopting emerging scholarly communication services such as RDM, digital humanities, or research landscape analysis.
Course description analysis provides evidence that LIS schools’ curricula, as per global trend reported in the literature, do not seem to be keeping pace with developments in scholarly communication.
The ambivalent nature of an evolving scholarly communications field with unclear definitions and boundaries necessitates professional practitioners who are adaptable and open to change as well as an LIS education curriculum that is in constant review to seamlessly embrace an evolving field propelled by advancing digital technologies.