The UP Merensky Library is one of the centres of academic activity on Hatfield campus that provides students a space to study and concentrate. The UP library has been closed for the duration of the lockdown, but the library services have not stopped working to ensure that students can access the resources they need for assignments and other academic work. Lindiwe Soyizwapi,the Director of Library Services, said, “during this time uppermost in our mind as the Library was to align our support and programmes to the needs of our students and staff. We gave priority to enhancing access to academic texts and information resources”.

DigitiSing Library Services

While a full staff could not be present in the early days of lockdown, librarians went into the libraries in shifts to digitise physical books and send them to those who requested them. They also made themselves available for queries on both the chat function of the library website and a WhatsApp line until 21:00 on weekdays.

According to Soyizwapi , [the library services] listened to student voices via a number of channels, to the SRC, to faculties, to Deans, and other professional service departments who articulated problems experienced by students to access key texts. We engaged with the university executive for permits for essential library staff to get onto campus in order to print PPEs in the MakerSpace, to scan print materials within the copyright limitations. We engaged with Faculties to enhance reference pages on ClickUP. We scheduled meetings with some of the publishers to explore eTextbook formats where available. Library staff members have also needed to adjust on a number of fronts. As we learn, explore, and innovate, we are driven by the need to improve the student experience. We aspire to create inclusive experiences for the UP community”.

Training sessions

The library provided training sessions on how to use library resources, and hosted a number of online webinars, such as how to recognise academic integrity, the mind-altering books webinar, and an overview of the library services.

You can also access a list of the current webinars available on the library website. These include information on how to upload theses and dissertations onto UPSpace, how to make your work available through open access publishing models, and how altmetrics work.

If you missed any of the past events, these links will take you to the recordings:

Academic integrity in the age of misinformation:

Webinar on Mind-Altering Books:

The Library: a wealth of online information and support:

Online training sessions:

The day physical books became available

Recently, the librarians set up a voluntary system to help students access physical copies by sending runners to the Roper Street access to deliver books that had been placed on hold on the library website. This system was completely voluntary. Professor Molly Brown, the Head of the English Department, had this to say about the system:

“When I proposed the scheme for allowing students to Click and Collect at the Roper Street gate, the librarians were completely supportive of the proposal that went to the executive and made many helpful suggestions. They collected up the books every Tuesday and Friday, checked them out for the students who had requested them, helped the faculty volunteers pack them into a golf cart and collected returns and books that had not been fetched at the library entrance at the end of the afternoon.

The librarians also tracked down urgently needed resources for a couple of my research students and applied for copyright permission to digitise and post some key third-year materials on ClickUP. Students appreciate the assistance provided during lockdown by Marietjie van der Westhuizen, the circulation manager, Anna Siwela, the faculty librarian, and Adrienne Warricker, the subject librarian for English and other Humanities subjects”.

Level 1 changes and how to access the library

Now that we’re on level 1, it is possible to visit the libraries on each campus. They will be open Monday to Fridays 9:00 until 18:00 and Saturdays 9:00 until 13:00.

What you can do under level 1:

  • Book study space at the library (on the library website) in advance. This will be useful for students who do not have a dedicated study space at home.
  • Postgraduate students can access the Research Commons. Book online and bring your own device if possible. If you need to, you can arrange with the Research Commons staff to use a computer in the facility.
  • Return your current library books. This will allow other students to use those materials. You can do this via the book drop (at the top of the pedestrian gate) on University Road. The books will be quarantined before being re-shelved and you’ll get an email from the library confirming that they’ve received your books.

No late fines will be issued for unreturned books possessed by those who have no access to campus. Place a book on hold on the library website and set a time and date with a librarian to go and collect it from the library.

Contact the library (handle on all social media: @UPLibrary)

The library has Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter profiles where they share helpful news, tips, and resources. The Instagram page has beautifully illustrated short stories archived on their stories by Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde, and Henry Callaway. Additionally, information regarding the library services can be found on

Image: Provided

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