LIS professional competency index for the higher education sector in South Africa


This first iteration of a library and information services (LIS) professional competency index was a targeted outcome of a three-year National Research Foundation (NRF)-funded research project with the objective of developing a national LIS professional competency index for the higher education sector in South Africa to be used by: i) LIS employers and employees for practical purposes (to benchmark existing competencies and to ascertain the need for further knowledge and skills acquisition); ii) LIS educators (for curriculum development purposes); iii) LIS researchers (as a basis for further research, both theoretical and empirical,  in the area of workplace competency exigencies); and, iv) the Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) in its oversight of LIS education and training in the country. Research activities which contributed to the compilation included: intensive reviewing of literature; data collection from LIS professional practitioners via semi-structured interviews as well as a national online questionnaire survey of all academic libraries in South Africa and content analysis of over a 100 academic library professional position job advertisements for the period 2014-2016; the use of both quantitative and qualitative philosophical assumptions in the study; and, the use of theories  such as the Core Competency Theory (Selznick 1957), Chaos of Disciplines Theory (Abbott 2001) and the Concept of Disruptive Innovation (Shank & Bell 2011) to inform different aspects of the mixed methods study. The research on which this index is based establishes that a blend of discipline-specific, generic and personal competencies are required of the modern LIS professional practising in a higher education library in the digital age. The index unpacks these competencies.

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Author Biography

Jaya Raju, University of Cape Town

Jaya Raju is Associate Professor and Head of the Library and Information Studies Centre at the University of Cape Town. She holds a PhD in Information Studies from the former University of Natal (now University of KwaZulu-Natal). She has researched and written extensively in the area of LIS education and work place competency requirements. She is an NRF rated researcher.


Publisher: University of Cape Town Libraries, UCT

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12 May 2017

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Jaya Raju
University of Cape Town