The official opening of the Leadership and Training Centre and Research Commons
By Sanku Tsunke
Posted on 16 November 2011
Dr. Rookaya Bawa, Dr. Omotade Aina & Prof Cheryl de la Rey
The Department of Library Services at the University of Pretoria officially opened the Leadership and Training Centre and Research Commons in the Merensky II Library, situated at the University’s Hatfield Campus. This is a dedicated advanced research space for postgraduate students at masters and doctoral level as well as for researchers and academic staff at the University of Pretoria.
The Research Commons has been designed as a research and social space that contributes to social dialogue, scholarly exchange and intellectual development. This facility enhances the Library’s commitment to supporting postgraduates, academics and researchers in their research endeavours and to lending impetus to the University’s research output.
The Leadership and Training Centre and Research Commons was developed as part of the national Research Libraries Consortium (RLC) Project funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. This project aims to contribute to the development of dedicated facilities, shared technologies and well trained librarians to increase library support for researchers at beneficiary institutions.
The Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria, Prof Cheryl de la Rey outlined the concept of a research commons at universities, a fairly new development in South Africa. She said the premises at issue are the equivalent of a laboratory facility, except that instead of the usual laboratory equipped for the typical activities of natural sciences, the space referred to in this instance is essentially dedicated to intellectual pursuits.
Prof de la Rey said the Carnegie Corporation of New York has been instrumental in establishing the concept of a research commons and in facilitating the development of facilities of this nature at a number of universities throughout South Africa. She added that the facilities at the University of Pretoria Library are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that the University increases its capacity to educate and train master’s and doctoral candidates, and to increase the University’s research output.
“The University of Pretoria’s Library has been designed to support the under-graduate teaching, but with these facilities the university is positioned to expand its capacity to meet the distinctive and unique needs of senior post-graduate students. In this way, the University will be able to meet its objective of becoming a far more research intensive university”, said Prof de la Rey.
Dr Omotade Aina, the Programme Director for Higher Education and Libraries in Africa for the Carnegie Corporation of New New York delivered the message on behalf of the President of the Corporation, Dr Vartan Gregorian. He said that the Carnegie Corporation of New York believes that libraries are key agents of change within societies and therefore serve as the gateway to progress for any society that values learning and knowledge.
He said libraries play a critical role in improving literacy levels and act as information hubs where people begin to envision the future for themselves, their communities, and even for their nations. “A library is a laboratory of human inspiration, a window to the future. A library is a source of self-renewal, a link between solitary individual and collective mankind which represents our communities”, said Dr Aina.
Dr Aina said the Carnegie Corporation of New York is proud to have helped the people of South Africa to build and renew their libraries, thus ensuring the preservation of treasured knowledge in order to fructify the future.
Carnegie Leadership students ltr Heila Mare, Thulas Dumakude & Boni Matupi