Welcome to my blog. In this space we will walk the journey of libraries and librarianship. I believe it will be a long journey because libraries are about life itself. Life itself outlives our shot individual lives, going from one generation to another. Libraries go on from one generation to the next, and the next. This journey, I believe will be a long journey. Let us walk the journey, together.
Dr Buhle Mbambo-Thata: Profile
Dr Mbambo-Thata, is an outstanding scholar and activist in her field and in recognition for the sustained contributions at local, regional and international levels. Her professional career spans more than three decades of distinguished service and exemplary leadership, and she has achieved recognition internationally as a leader in her field.
Since 2006 Dr Buhle Mbambo-Thatahas been Executive Director, Library services, University of South Africa (UNISA), South Africa's premier, distance learning university.Unisa is one of the 10 mega universities in the world and enrolls more than 350 000 students.
Previously she spent five years as University Librarian at the University of Zimbabwe where, against a backdrop of a challenged economy, she managed to build up a state-of-the-art digital library.She excelled in establishing relationships and contacts internationally to the benefit of the library and the profession in Zimbabwe. The developments at University of Zimbabwe are documented in a monograph she edited “Building a digital library at the University of Zimbabwe” which can be accessed at : http://uir.unisa.ac.za/handle/10500/193
In addition to her role at UNISA, Buhle Mbambo-Thata is active in the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).She served as Secretary of the Africa Section Standing Committee 2005- 2007; Chair of the Africa Section Standing Committee 2007-2009, Chair IFLA Division 5, and Regional Activities 2009-2011. In 2009-20011 she was a member of the FIAFE and IFLA ALP committees and a member of the Governing Board.She is serving a second term on the Governing Board.
She was instrumental in securing the bid for Unisa to host the IFLA Regional Office for Africa since 2007.Under her leadership the Office has expanded its activities amongst others, hosting highly regarded annual IFLA Public Lecture and international conferences.
It is her extraordinary, sustained leadership and peer recognition that resulted in her election to various leadership positions in the profession and the community. She was recently, 6 February 2013, awarded the prestigious Chancellor’s award for leadership.
She is currently a member of the Strategic Advisers Network of the Global Libraries Programme of the Bill and Melinda Gates programme. Her other leadership affiliations include the Library Network of Association of Commonwealth Libraries; 1996-2001 served on the Advisory Committees of the eIFL Found.net, the Gender in Africa Information Network, and the Access to Learning Award of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation 2004 and 2007.
As the chair of the Board of Trustees of E-knowledge for Women in Southern Africa (EKOWISA) 2004-2011, she led this NGO in its mission to promote the development of a gender sensitive knowledge society through the effective use of appropriate ICTs at local, national, regional and international levels. http://www.ekowisa.org.zw
She also plays a leading role in the Gender Research in Africa on Women in ICTs for Empowerment Project (GRACE). http://www.grace-network.net/GRACE was initiated in 2005, involving 14 research teams across 12 countries. It examines how women in Africa and the Middle East use ICTs to improve their living conditions and to identify the barriers. She led two notable Zimbabwean projects on Gender and ICTS in higher education. In that capacity, she has led various projects pitched at women in higher education and consciously include capacity development of young professionals and academic women in qualitative and feminist research methods.
She has been an active member of the Committee for Higher Education Librarians in South Africa (CHELSA) and is currently the Chairperson.Under her leadership CHELSA did a review and valuable strategic planning session to enhance its role in the sector as well as set up an office.http://www.chelsa.ac.za
She was the Chairperson of the Zimbabwe University Library Consortium (ZULC) and played many leadership roles in the consortium.She also facilitated workshops and training session on effective consortia on the continent. http://library.uz.ac.zw/zulc/index.html
Her career at Unisa has seen the introduction of several major strategic projects, including the Unisa Institutional Repository; implementation of the Mobile Devise Catalogue Access – AIRPAC – the first of its kind on the continent; extended library hours to improve student access and the implementation of Radio Frequency Technology (RFID) to enable self services for clients as well as improving stock management. The latter is a critical feature for the Unisa library, given its size and scope. 2010 saw the library become one of the first to use Mobile Libraries to extend the reach to rural areas and expanding Open Distance Library services beyond the major urban centers in the country.
Buhle Mbambo-Thata truly leads by example, and that phenomenal achievements are found to be a source of inspiration. As a compassionate and trained counselor, she manages to impact positively on the lives and well-being of many of her subordinates and peers. Her assertiveness, high standards and going the extra mile to ensure the necessary resources to ensure success is impressive. In 2010 she was awarded the very competitive Unisa Woman of the Year Award in acknowledgement of her contribution to Unisa and the Library Profession.
“ If all this makes Buhle Mbambo-Thata sound somewhat formidable, as a person she is charming and softly spoken. She is also very unassuming and modest about her achievements; in fact, she does not recognize these as her sole property. Driven by vision rather than ambition, she simply sees things that need doing, recognizes that she cannot do them alone, and works with others to get them done. For her, it's the team that counts, not the individual.Her assertiveness, high standards and going the extra mile to ensure the necessary resources to ensure success is impressive” Emerald Interview. http://www.emeraldinsight.com
CONTRIBUTION TO IFLA
Dr B Mbambo-Thata has demonstrated her commitment and contributions to IFLA with the various leadership roles she has performed.She is serving a second term on the Governing Board. She is also Chair IFLA ALPCommittee and member of the Executive Committee. She has served as Chair of Division 5, Regional Activities, and a member of the IFLA Governing Board in 2009-2011. She has demonstrated her understanding of the workings, capabilities and challenges that face IFLA with her valuable input and contributions to the Association.
In the period 2009-2011 that she has served on the IFLA Governing Board, the Board has developed the IFLA Strategic Plan 2010-1015 . As a member of the IFLA/ALP Committee the Board has monitored the implementation of the Building Strong Library Associations programme. As a member for of the IFLA –FAIFE Committee she has participated in developing the FAIFE Action Plan.She has also served as member of the President–elect’s theme development subcommittee.
She currently Chairs ALP and is a member of the Executive Committee
KNOWLEDGE AND QUALIFICATIONS
Dr B Mbambo-Thata holds a Doctor of Philosophy, a Masters in Library Science a Post-Graduate Diploma in Library Studies and a B.Sc (Sociology).She has served in several leadership posts in university and college libraries, including College Librarian at the Hillside Teachers College in Zimbabwe, Senior Librarian at the University of Botswana, University Librarian at the University of Zimbabwe and Executive Director of the Library of Unisa.
She has been invited to deliver papers at various conferences internationally and has published and edited various publications.Her research interests are in women and information technology, information technology applications in developing countries and information literacy.