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Management of open distance libraries with reference to learner support

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to share information on the management of open distance libraries with special reference to technology applications. It seeks to provide information on the changing roles of academic libraries with specific reference to the requirements of open and distance learning (ODL). It aims to focus on the practical management experience of the University of South Africa (UNISA) library in support of the implementation of a new ODL model (optimizing available technology) at the University. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A review of the relevant literature was conducted to provide an overview on the topic and a context for the information gathered on the UNISA Library. Information gathered from the planning, policies and procedures of UNISA in general and the UNISA library in particular as well as experience gained by participating in workshops on ODL at UNISA was included in the paper. Findings ‐ The findings indicate that research and literature on leadership in distance education in general are limited and this is even more true for open and distance libraries. It is, however, evident from experience and the required standards for distance library services, that structured management and planning of these services are important to ensure success and future developments of the services. Furthermore, leaders in open distance libraries also need a variety of skills that are constantly updated to ensure optimization of resources, for suitable strategic planning, policy formulation and suitable in terms of new technology developments. Originality/value ‐ In addition to the literature survey and analysis the information gathered for the article is original in that it captures the experience gained from management of an ODL library. Although focused on open distance learning, the information is also of value to residential institutions, as the border between online services and open distance services is becoming blurred.
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Keywords: Africa; Distance learning; Library management

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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