Community profile analysis of the Free State and the identification of the information infrastructure: a higher education community engagement project
Ackerman, Doraliza Reinetta
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The overarching purpose of the study is: to compile a comprehensive database of the information infrastructures in the Free State province and investigate/determine how information from the database can be utilised by Library Information Services at Higher Education Institutions in response to what is regarded as their social responsibility towards the community, through possible community engagement projects. In realising the purpose of the study, the following objectives were pursued: To undertake a literature review in order to investigate the following aspects: o The HEIs’ social responsibility in terms of the South African legislation and other policy documents, with special reference to the community engagement role of the LIS of the HEIs. The principle of community development, with special reference to people-centred development in the South African context, as well as the role of LIS in community development. o The various LIS sectors functioning in South Africa within the social systems of government, education, health, economic and the legal systems. The changing role of information, within the post-1994 legislation, in community development, with special reference to the non-traditional information dissemination service points in South Africa. To gather comprehensive data from various resources, including databases, for example the Free State Department of Education’s Education Management Information System (EMIS), annual reports and strategic plans of the relevant government departments of the Free State province, as well as other LIS related journals, for example the Free State Provincial Library Services, quarterly journal (Free State Libraries), making use of all possible means to identify the various information infrastructures functioning within the Free State province, including a questionnaire-survey to acquire supplementary information, that will be captured in a database. To utilise the database as part of a community profile analysis to be able to identify which communities lack which information infrastructure(s). The information infrastructures will be used in conjunction with the Census 2001 population statistics and the number of learners in the schools, according to the Free State Department of Education’s EMIS system will be able to do the analysis. The results will then be used to identify possible community engagement project(s) for the LIS of the HEIs. The major conclusions of the study revealed the following: That LIS of HEIs have a social responsibility towards society and therefore must engage in community projects. That LIS can contribute towards community development, thereby providing better access to information, which will lead to empowerment of communities in general, but especially empowered individuals. The database compiled is presented on a CD-ROM with the 1729 identified information infrastructures in the Free State province, including Library and Information Services, as well as other non-traditional information dissemination service points. The recommendations spell out possible ways in which the Library and Information Centre of the CUT can contribute to community responsibility through possible community engagement projects, for example to facilitate workshops to conscientise the various Library and Information Services to the amount of people with disabilities in their communities, as well as suggesting technologies that can the aid the above-mentioned group or train-the-trainer workshops for information literacy, thereby enhancing life-long learning.
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