‘Open Access: a new dawn for knowledge management’: Interview with Ellen Tise, KM Keynote Speaker



1.      You were IFLA president from 2009-2011. Now you are Senior Director, Library and Information Service at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. How did it feel to go back to the world of academic libraries after the presidential years?

Being back full-time in my post as Senior Director, has been quite an adjustment. However, I think the adjustment was probably harder for my staff – getting used to having me around so much now… After a year and half, I’m still getting used to not having the huge responsibility of IFLA on my shoulders, but things have slowly slotted back to being a ‘normal/ordinary’ library director.  Having said that, I’m still very much actively involved in international work. I still had a number of engagements the first year after my presidency, so it did not feel too different. I’m still involved in some key IFLA initiatives, such as the International Leaders Programme. I also represent IFLA on the International Advisory Board of Beacon of Freedom of Expression and on the UNSCO Expert Group for the reconstruction of Mali’s cultural heritage. I’m still serving on the International Advisory Committee for UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme and has also been appointed as Chairperson of the Board of the National Library of South Africa in 2012. So, although I have said ‘back to normal’ I still have an expanded role and my experience as IFLA President still benefits my institution and the profession in South Africa.

2.      During your presidency, you encouraged IFLA to  embrace the concept of Open Access. How do you see IFLA’s development towards Open Access so far?

Major encouraging steps have been taken by IFLA so far.

-In 2010 IFLA became a formal signatory to the Berlin Declaration  on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.

-An IFLA Presidential Working Group was formed and tasked with preparing an official IFLA statement on open access, which was formally endorsed by the IFLA Governing Board in April 2011

– Open Access is high on IFLA’s agenda and has been included in one of IFLA’s key strategic initiatives, namely Digital Content. The IFLA Open Access Taskforce mandate is to advocate for the adoption and promotion of open access policies as set out in IFLA’s Statement on Open Access: within the framework of the united nations institutions (UN, UNESCO, WHO, FAO), and develop case studies and best practices to support advocacy for open access.

– IFLA responded to the European Commission’s Consultation on the ERA Framework: Areas of untapped potential for the development of the European Research Area

– IFLA responded to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Public Consultation on The right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and it applications

– IFLA adopted a policy to make most of its own publications open access

I do however, feel that some momentum has been lost with the leadership role that IFLA could and should play with promoting OA and building capacity within the library sector and in partnership with other OA communities/organisations.

3.      In November 2012, the ‘Berlin 10 Open  Access Conference’ was held in your university. Did it make an impact on open access in South Africa?

Yes, indeed. Many institutions have and continue to adopt and sign the Berlin Declaration, develop institutional OA repositories, develop mandatory institutional self-archiving policies, influenced the development of governmental and national policies on OA, helped to established OA Funds to support researchers and students with payment of page/authors fees, gained tremendous financial support and buy-in from decision and policy makers. Stellenbosch University also launched two free platforms to African institutions to support and develop OA capacity on the continent. See:

http://ar1.sun.ac.za/ – The African Open Access Repository Initiative

http://aj1.sun.ac.za/ – The African Open Access Journal Initiative

4.      In your keynote speech at IFLA WLIC 2013 KM Session, you will talk about ‘Open Access: a new dawn for knowledge management’. Which role does KM play your university?

This is a difficult question to answer. KM is more of an academic discourse at Stellenbosch University. In my view the concept of KM at a practical level at academic institutions is not fully understood and Stellenbosch University is no exception.

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