2016 LIS Research Symposium: call for active and ethical engagement
The University of South Africa (Unisa) Library and the Unisa Department of Information Science hosted the 7th LIS Research Symposium on 28 and 29 July 2016 at the Unisa Muckleneuk Campus, Pretoria, South-Africa. The theme was "Information Professions and Services in the e-environment: From ‘so what' to ‘what if". The symposium boasted an array of local and international speakers who all contributed to a conversation on how to successfully move the Library and Information Science (LIS) profession into new heights of technology and information access in an ethical fashion.
Prof Divya Singh, Unisa Vice-Principal and Director of the Globethics.net Southern Africa Regional Programme, gave the keynote address, stating that students have to be prepared to become global citizens She urged professors to "Teach students to be actively and ethically engaged with technology".
Anh Tho Andres-Kammler, Globethics.net Programme Executive Ethics and Education, presented our online library and services. She encouraged those at Unisa and other African institutions to collaborate with us for solutions to the ethical challenges faced by society and other institutions globally. The symposium also featured a panel discussion with Anh Tho Andres-Kammler, Prof. Theo Bothma and Unisa's Ethics Officer Zibuyile Jafta. The discussion covered ethical, cultural as well as moral values – as well as how to distinguish between these. Some of the speakers' parting shots included Jafta's "we should start ethics from positive psychology" and Bothma's "institutions need policies that enforce ethical behavior".
Andres-Kammler reminded delegates that the library is an important public space that contributes to the global agenda on ethics, while session chair Dr Buhle Mbambo-Thata urged colleagues to continue the conversation on ethics beyond the 2016 LIS Research Symposium.
On the second day of the symposium, Unisa Library Executive Director Dr Buhle Mbambo Thata focused on a crucial and global issue of ethics in an e-environment, setting the context for the discussions that followed. University of Pretoria's Prof Theo Bothma spoke on information ethics, saying that "ethical values need inculcation in every institution and society".
The Symposium gathered some 30 professionals, mostly librarians, professors, senior researchers, IT professionals from various parts of South Africa (Capetown, Durban, Pretoria, Johannesburg) and Switzerland. The LIS Research Symposium series was initiated in 2006 and it has evolved into a popular bi-annual event on the library profession's calendar.