The dedicated Library and Information Service (LIS) team diligently continued to ensure that staff and students could carry on with their work and studies, with the best support at their disposal.


Although all the NWU’s library buildings were closed during levels 4 and 5 of the lockdown, users could still access services through the virtual library.


“Even long before lockdown, we maintained two sets of libraries — the virtual or online library and the physical library services,” says Dr Mathew Moyo, chief director of LIS. He adds that the virtual library was key to continuing services during lockdown.


Don’t fear when help is near


Mathew says the LIS team put many measures in place to communicate with users about all the services that were available online.


The LIS’s WhatsApp line (066 028 7119) was re-opened and library users can also contact staff directly through the Ask Us chat facility. All staff, and in particular the faculty librarians, transferred their office phone lines to their cell phones and shared their numbers with users to provide assistance when needed.


Users can also contact staff through emails and social media accounts. Faculty librarians are available during normal working hours from 8:00 to 16:30 to help staff and students with queries and information.


Virtual(ly) all access is possible


Mathew says the virtual library is much more than just a library. Not only is it available at all hours every day of the week, but access to all services is free.


He encourages staff and students to continue to make use of their online books and journals. The online resources also include free Covid-19 materials and information which have been made available by some of the LIS’s suppliers.


Mathew says the timeframe for these free resources is from March to around September 2020. “With all the resources we have online, and the support we are providing, our message to staff is: connect with us remotely and we will surely help you.”


Moving forward


According to Mathew, group training will continue in June. This training for users will focus on the use of e-books, EndNote, referencing and plagiarism. “We encourage staff to send requests to their faculty librarians or book online on the training calendar on the Library and Information Service webpage.


“When lockdown measures permit, we also plan to roll out kerbside collection services. This will allow users to book printed resources through our online catalogue. An assistant will deliver it to them in their cars in a designated parking area.”


Going forward, the LIS will continue to apply strict social distancing measures, especially in the physical library buildings on the three campuses.


“The health of our users and staff is of utmost importance to us and we will continue to help combat the spread of the corona virus while providing quality services to staff and students.”


Dr Mathew Moyo is the chief director of Library and Information Service.

In the uncertain times of Covid-19, even when lockdown was at its most restrictive level, there was one certainty – the NWU’s library users had uninterrupted access to services and sources.

Click on the purple bars on the right to see how the usage of LibGuides and other popular sources shot up.


The numbers are skyrocketing


Dr Mathew Moyo, chief director of Library and Information Service says it is encouraging to see to what extent users have embraced the NWU’s virtual libraries.


“Access statistics to some services for the lockdown period up to now, are higher than in the same period in 2018 and 2019. A good example of this is the library webpage. It was frequently accessed, with 352 364 visits from March to end of May. The visits to the subject LibGuides* were almost double than previous years, in some cases.”


He says in May alone, Boloka, the NWU’s institutional repository, had 74 457 searches and DaYta Ya Rona, the NWU research data-management platform, had 776 views and 388 downloads. From end of March to beginning of May, there were 137 319 visitors to the databases of e-journals.


Library staff were especially busy. Faculty librarians received 1 144 emails with requests for online or information support and also received many phone calls. Mathew says the scanning service (of information sources only available in print format) was and continues to be popular among academic staff who needed the resources for work or research.


* LibGuides are library guides for specific subject groups.



  • Popular sources during lockdown

    E-books were widely used during the first two levels of the national lockdown. The growth in use of e-book Central (eBrary) was 16 484 in May, in comparison with 4 991 in April 2020. The total e-book usage statistic in April was 45 832, and 49 273 in May.


    The referencing guides were equally popular, as shown in the distribution table below:

    Guide Name March 2020 April 2020 May 2020
    NWU Harvard Referencing Guide 25 010
    11 155 14 844
    NWU Law Referencing Guide
    4 513 3 748 3 972
    APA Referencing Guide 1 740 1 043 2 164
  • Visits to the subject LibGuides

    The purpose of the LibGuides is to give users specific information relating to available sources and study materials that are relevant to their field of study.

    LibGuides Page Views 2018 2019 2020
    March 39 983
    45 226 77 857
    30 542 28 963 43 212
    May 33 020 22 596 45 242

NWU takes library users online with