A job turned into a career

What started as a mere task at a high school library has now become a lifetime career in librarianship, which plays a significant role in the Unisa library services for Dr Modiehi Winnie Rammutloa.

Rammutloa's 20+ years of experience in various library sectors in the Library and Information Science space attest to her stature as an information specialist in data standards and quality reporting at Unisa's Library Services.


Dr Modiehi Winnie Rammutloa

As an information specialist, she believes the natural progression is knowing and understanding information, data, knowledge and wisdom. She regards these four concepts as fundamentals for any information specialist.

"Working at Unisa exposed me to various academic and professional opportunities that propelled me to develop an interest in sharing my work activities with colleagues in other institutions," she said. Internally, she has offered her services by acting in various managerial roles.

Born and raised in Ga-Rankuwa, a township on the outskirts of Pretoria North, Rammutloa's yearning for knowledge has yielded academic achievements in the form of a bachelor's degree (University of Limpopo), honours (University of South Africa - Unisa), MPhil in Information and Knowledge Management (Stellenbosch University) and a PhD in Information Science (Unisa), which she obtained in October 2023.

Rammutloa is also a Professional Research Group (PRG) researcher with a diverse research focus. She attempts to cover the four pillars of information and knowledge management, citizen science, research data management and sustainable development goals through her studies. She stumbled upon some of these research areas due to the nature of her work as a coordinator for data standards and quality reporting.

"I worked quite a lot in my career with data, and my curiosity grew from then. Sometimes, my interest would be sparked by innovations or new buzzwords I would explore further. I have recently started to write for publication, which is a space I utterly enjoy," she says.

Testament to this is her PhD thesis entitled Positioning citizen science in university libraries in South Africa and journal article, The missing link: the capacity development for academic librarians to sustain citizen science at university libraries | Emerald Insight, which reports on research into the skills and services required to ensure sustainability of citizen science as a service in university libraries.

Enabling research support benefits

Through the enabling support services of the Professional Research Committee (PRC), a research support body for Unisa professional staff, Rammutloa has been granted financial support and research and development (R&D) leave.

"A significant benefit for me was an opportunity, through the R&D leave, to have time and space to complete my PhD studies and discover my writing abilities. I never thought of myself as a writer/author, but through being a PRG researcher, the potential was unleashed, and I managed to publish an article in a peer-reviewed journal," she explains.

While she has always presented papers at national and international conferences, she never allowed herself to publish in an academic journal. All her efforts would end as presentation slides until she used PRC's research support services.

She has attended various workshops and training sessions on research methodology and related concepts through PRC throughout her PhD journey. "Those sessions made the journey less intimidating," she reflects, "as I had the tools and means to navigate the mighty PhD. I was also exposed to workshops on writing for publication, culminating in a solid end product of a research article, one of many to follow."

Rammutloa aspires to pursue a career in academia and has recently joined Unisa's Department of Information Science through Talent Management - an integrated process aimed at attracting, developing, deploying, supporting and retaining talented employees who can contribute to achieving Unisa's strategic objectives and creating a vibrant and sustainable institution. Her role involves teaching, learning, research, engaged scholarship and academic citizenship.

* By Mpho Moloele, PR and Communications, Department of Research, Innovation and Commercialisation

Publish date: 2024/01/24

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