19th Annual Mortenson Distinguished Lecture

Ellen Tise

Ellen Tise, President of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) for 2009-2011

Title: Isolation and Information Famine Stifling Africa’s Growth
Thursday, October 22, 2009
4:00pm in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Room 126 with a reception following the lecture.

Read the Lecture Text here.
Listen to the Lecture Recording here.

During the scramble for Africa at the end of the 19th century, European countries staked claims to virtually every part of the continent to tap into the vast natural resources in Africa. However, post-independence from colonial powers has seen the stifling of growth of African countries. It is a generally held view that one of the pre-requisites for the alleviation of poverty and the stimulation of growth is equitable access to resources. And, one of the most fundamental of resources is knowledge. The literature supports this view as it reveals that knowledge and information are fundamental pillars for freedom, the exercising of political power, and economic, social and personal development.

It is the commonly held view that libraries will serve as the intermediary collecting, preserving and making provision of the equitable access to knowledge. African libraries therefore have an important role to play in breaking the isolation and information famine in Africa.   They could for example broaden their traditional roles and assume such roles as publishers of information, especially indigenous knowledge which has played such a critical role in Africa. They could play a much more significant role in lifelong learning and cultural development. The public library could become the hub of their communities, providing free, accessible space, resources and services for everyone. Libraries have the opportunity to open channels for the free flow of knowledge and information for the growth and development of the continent.

Ellen Remona Tise, Senior Director of Library and Information Services at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, will be the 2009 Mortenson Distinguished Lecturer on October 22, 2009 at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Ms. Tise is the president of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) for 2009-2011.

Her professional experience includes serving as University Librarian at the University of the Western Cape from 2001 – 2005 and prior to that was Deputy University Librarian at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. She also previously held the position of Systems Librarian at the University of the Western Cape, as well as posts at Brakpan City Library and the University of the Free State.

She has served on the Governing Board and Executive Committee of IFLA, the IFLA Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE) Advisory Board, and the IFLA Africa Section Standing Committee. Ms. Tise was Chairperson of the National Organizing Committee for the IFLA 73rd World Library and Information Congress, held in Durban,  South Africa in August 2007.

Ms Tise’s experience at senior management levels in the profession includes being the first elected President of the Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) from 1998 –2002; Director of SABINET Board from 2003 – 2007 and Online Board from  2003–; Deputy Chair of the South African Library Leadership Programme Governing Committee 2001-2004; Member of the Advisory and Management Committee of the LIASA-Carnegie Centre for Information Career Development Project from 2005-2006, OCLC Members Council Delegate from 2005 – 2008, and Member of the Access to Learning Award Advisory Committee for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation from 2007. She has also served on various selection/review panels such as the National Council for Library and Information Services and the Centre for the Book of the National Library of South Africa.

Ms. Tise is an Honorary Member of the Golden Key International Honour Society, as well as of the Library and Information Association of South Africa. She has published various articles in professional journals and is a regular speaker at national and international conferences, seminars, symposia, etc.