(Published - 1 April 2020)
“Everyone assumes libraries are obsolete because of Google - but that’s just not the case. In this time of fake news, where there’s so much information available that it can be hard to tell what’s reliable (or even useful), librarians are the gateway guardians to the world of information. Our job is to help protect you from bad information and to guide you to find the right type of information.”
Kerisha Chanderdeo is employed by the City of Cape Town as a senior librarian at Brooklyn Library. She knows firsthand the struggle to balance the books - so it’s no surprise that she’s earned her Master’s in Library and Information Sciences at the University of the Western Cape.
Initially, the Durbanite had big dreams of studying criminology - dreams she pursued with a criminology degree cum laude from UKZN and a PgDIP in Criminal Justice and Forensic investigation - completed with distinction. But something was missing.
“I wanted to help the public using my real talent – and that was information,” she recalls. “So I worked for a bit and realised that my true passion is in the libraries. I took a risk, saved up what I could and resigned from my position to study for a PgDIP in Library and Information Studies at UKZN PMB campus. I only had enough money for one semester - but I didn’t care; I was determined to succeed. That determination paid off: I graduated top of the class.”
Eventually the City of Cape Town offered her a one-year contract. She jumped at this opportunity, and five years and several promotions later, she finds herself at Brooklyn Library.
“You get to interact with people from completely different paths of life, and you can see firsthand how a simple book or a piece of information can make someone's day.”
The objective of her thesis, titled Librarians’ book selection practices and budget fluctuations in the City of Cape Town, was to investigate book selection practices of librarians from the City of Cape Town Library and Information Service. In particular, this research assessed the role of the Collection Development Plan in the book selection process. She gathered insights on what selection tools are utilised by librarians doing book selection, and she explored how declining library budgets have affected the book selection process.
“The selection librarians at the City of Cape Town are extremely experienced in and knowledgeable about the selection process,” she says. “They have vast amounts of experiential and theoretical knowledge in the process. But the City’s Library Services collection development plan needs to be updated in accordance with modern technologies and processes.”
Chanderdeo’s dream is to be a subject librarian at a university.
“I love the fact that, as a librarian, you can help people find the information they need, and that you can solve their problems with just some clear thinking and the right guidance,” she says.