Libraries head is UNISA alumnus of the year

26 March 2013 | Story by Newsroom
Accolade: UNISA's Department of Information Science's Alumnus of the Year 2011, Gwenda Thomas, the executive director of UCT Libraries.
Accolade: UNISA's Department of Information Science's Alumnus of the Year 2011, Gwenda Thomas, the executive director of UCT Libraries.

Executive director of UCT libraries Gwenda Thomas has been awarded UNISA's Department of Information Science 2011 Alumnus of the Year Award.

The accolade recognises Thomas's professional contribution to library and information science.

It was one of several awards made to UNISA information science alumni in Pretoria on 6 March.

In her acceptance of the accolade, Thomas lauded UNISA's role in her personal growth and experience and in South African education over the decades.

"[As] ...the original examining body of South Africa before universities became established, it's been such an important support for so many people."

Thomas completed her honours and master's degrees in library and information science through UNISA and said the experience had taught her important life skills such as self-discipline and self-motivation.


"It's not easy studying part-time and those skills have served me well."

The career she forged in library and information science has taken her to the top levels of higher education. Thomas was general manager and director in a higher education and library consortium, the Foundation of Tertiary Institutions of the Northern Metropolis and its library project, and the Gauteng and Environs Library Consortium, made up of eleven institutional and library members across three provinces in South Africa.

Thomas held senior management positions in UNISA's Department of Library Services between 1990 and 2000 before her appointment as director of libraries at Rhodes University. These experiences developed a solid understanding of strategic planning, spatial planning, and the challenges facing libraries of modern educational institutions.

All have stood her in good stead at UCT where several library projects and developments have come on stream during her directorship/under her leadership - such as the JW Jagger Library Reading Room refurbishment.

Thomas has also maintained close associations with fellow educators in the profession with the re-establishment of the Library and Information Studies Centre as part of the organisation structure of the Libraries. It is intended, inter alia, to ensure a steady pipeline of trained librarians to create a pool of library graduates vital to South Africa's academic libraries.

"UCT, too, is playing its role in ensuring a supply of librarians for South African public, government and specialist libraries."

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