Newsletter: Interview with Joe Kirsch
Give us brief information about
I am in the position of Senior
Control Systems Librarian (from 2003 to date) at the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality. I completed a National
Diploma in Library and Information Services in 1998 and recently acquired certification in IT governance. I am
certified in Information Technology Infra-structure Library (ITIL), and Control Objectives for Information and
Related Technology (COBIT). From a project management perspective I am certified in Projects IN Controlled
Environments 2 (PRINCE2) Foundation. Having specialist knowledge in Integrated Library Management (ILM) systems and
the Digital Content Delivery services and being involved in many migration projects to new Integrated Library
Management (ILM) systems, has broadened my specialized knowledge and experiences. In-depth knowledge and
understanding of application of library and information service principles, standards, best practices and
procedures have been instilled over the years while being involved in all aspects of different library functions,
from acquisitions, cataloguing to circulation and system administration. I am currently involved in consultancy as
an external specialist at the Library of Parliament in Cape Town (Nov 2012 - Feb 2013) to assist the Library of
Parliament in the purchase and implementation of Integrated Library Management (ILM) systems and Digital Content
How long have you been in the library
industry and what are the lessons learnt in your journey?
I have been working in the library sector for
over 16 years and as a Systems/Technical Librarian for more than a decade. One of the important lessons learnt
is to never act on assumptions, before verifying the facts.
What do you think makes a good
A Librarian should have a good general knowledge
and a logical approach to information seeking, as well as people skills (communication and interpersonal). A
love for reading is essential.
What do you think is the Shape of the 21st
I foresee that the age of internet, internet
kiosks, Wi-Fi, mobile phone, RFID, information portals, e-books, web OPAC, Digital Content Delivery services,
etc., will re-shape the library’s services. Libraries need to be aware of the new challenges and one can only
hope that the libraries and Librarians will step up to the challenge. Librarians need to update and re-evaluated
their Libraries’ current services and create new ways to best serve library users.
Do you think SA libraries are getting any
closer to this shape?
Libraries in South Africa have always been a few
years behind the UK and USA libraries. It will take many years of dedication and commitment from this profession
to achieve international standards in library services. SA libraries can learn a lot from progressive libraries
in the rest of the world. However, South African libraries have the potential and should make use of the
financial resources that are made available by the Carnegie and Bill Gates Foundation. In my experience, many SA
Librarians are very reserved when it comes to ICT. From my personal observations I found Librarians to have a
tendency not to share the information they possess or feel threatened by suggestions or different points of view
by outsiders for some unclear reason. Only through sharing of ideas, knowledge and experiences can
Systems/Technical Librarians solve their ICT challenges and really start making a change. SA Systems/ Technical
Librarians desperately need to create a Knowledge Sharing Culture. In 2012 I emailed over 80 Systems/ Technical
Librarians in South Africa to attend a workshop (even had LIASA online send an email to all its members) but
this endeavour failed dismally with only 3 responses, perhaps not just because of the absence of interest but
rather due to the fact of passiveness. ICT developments and advances will continue and if we continue to look
the other way it will be to our own detriment see http://www.systemslibrarian.co.za/Circulation-Performance.html.
What are your
Chess, Website design, Systems Librarianship,
Integrated Library Management (ILM) systems, SEO (for Google Rankings), creating blogs, forums, etc., basically
everything ICT related (listed in no particular order). I also enjoy reading up on new technologies that are
successfully implemented or available for libraries. When I have time I consolidate and publish articles on my
Are there anymore words of wisdom that you
would like to share?
Libraries and technology cannot
be separated, for this reason it should be important that Librarians are open to change as the only constant
with ICT is change. It is also true that most courses in ICT are useless within 5 years in today’s high-tech
environment. I'm not sure that university education can make a Systems/Technical Librarian, but I do believe the
practical environment can instil good habits (analytical and critical thinking). Technology challenges
System/Technical Librarians to be perpetual learners and adapting, particularly with the Internet and ICT being
at the forefront of today's society and such an integral part of what we do. I am of the view that in this
profession a person should always strive to keep abreast of new and evolving technology trends within the ICT
industry. Only through knowledge can you empower yourself to give guidance on best practice and ensure the
future of our Libraries. I am of the opinion that all Librarians in SA should be a member of LIASA, to increase
their influence in advocating in the interest of our profession.
Date: 26 January 2013