This article examines academic librarianship in South Africa; general trends and challenges
in academic librarianship; and the higher education (HE) environment in which academic
libraries exist. The authors propose that South African academic librarians adopt several
key professional principles to best support the priorities of their institutions. Academic
librarians who understand and respond to trends occurring in the larger context of HE
will continue to have a critical role in their institutions. As libraries have continually
adapted to the information needs of their institutions and stakeholders in the past, they can
continue to adapt by embracing these principles:
Be institution-centric, rather than library-centric.
Use existing research and theories to develop and provide services and resources that will
make the most effective use of staff and financial resources. Make assessment an integral
part of library operations.
Conduct practice-based research.
Engage in ongoing professional development.