n Mousaion - South African parliamentary library services : a status report




Parliamentary libraries can play a significant role in the information behaviour of parliamentarians. With the exception of the Library of National Parliament, also known as the Library and Information Unit, in Cape Town, South Africa, the other nine South African parliamentary libraries are relatively new institutions that mostly resulted from the democratic processes that took place in the country in 1994. The Library of National Parliament services the National Assembly, while the other nine parliamentary libraries service the provincial legislatures. Initial status reports compiled in 2004 and 2007 indicated limited and very traditional services and sources in many of the parliamentary libraries. Five years later, an attempt was made to establish if improvements and innovations had been implemented in the parliamentary libraries to serve parliamentarians optimally. A quantitative survey was carried out among all ten parliamentary libraries using a questionnaire. The major findings were that although most of the libraries were offering the same kind of services, very few innovative services had been introduced. A steady increase in online journals, newspapers and databases was observed, thereby indicating a shift towards incorporating digital content and making information available online. A few of the libraries had introduced technology to their services by way of a library portal, Facebook presence, or by using a library blog. Recommendations include: establishing a consortium among the parliamentary libraries to enable information sharing; extending services to a wider clientele; and establishing a platform through the Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) where issues and challenges can be discussed.


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