Students from the Department of Library and information Studies from the University of Limpopo, in South Africa, visited the UNIC Pretoria Library last month to gain a better understanding of the UN in South Africa and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Accompanied by their lecturers, the visit was part of an educational tour of special interest and academic libraries. The tour of UNIC Pretoria Library included informative discussions on work of the UN as well as libraries as resource centres. Students were introduced to a brief history of the UN and its structures with much of the discussions focusing on UNIC Pretoria advancing the 17 SDG’s in all activities.
Students were informed about the recent launching of UN information corners at Zamani Community Library, Khuri Village in Giyani, Mutshedzi Foundation Career Centre in Dzanani Township, and Makhado in Limpopo Province. This was in the pursuit of disseminating information on SDGs and other UN activities to a broader audience in order to achieve the 2030 UN global development agenda. Most students were captivated by the SDGs and wanted to know how best they could contribute to achieving the 2030 agenda.
Students positively engaged in the questions and answers session on the UN library collections, official languages of the UN, library services offered, marketing strategies of the UNIC library and how to keep libraries relevant in the era of digital technology. Students also asked questions about policies regarding copyright issues, partnerships, interlibrary loans and UN Library databases.
Discussions also centred on the latest trend of libraries moving from “collections to connections”. This means that trends are changing in the information sectors where librarians are no longer perceived as custodians of books but advocates of information by actively taking advantage of social media platforms to connect and market their products and services, building relationships with different partners through outreach programs and promoting the services of the library. The visit ended with students feeling enthusiastic and optimistic about joining library interest groups and empowering themselves on knowledge and information systems. The students also visited University of Pretoria, University of South Africa (UNISA) and the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) during their tour.