SABC Information Library
The interview this time is with Thelma Hlapolosa, the Information Librarian who works in the Newspaper Cutting Section of the SABC Information Library.
This section has a collection of 3200 000 newspaper articles. The following newspapers are ordered for this section: Beeld, Sowetan, Business Day, Star, Citizen, Mail and Guardian, Rapport, Sunday Times, Sunday Independent, Sunday World and the City Press. Every day articles are scanned in on the Newbase System and then electronically get cut, pasted and indexed.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. (Where you grew up, where and what you studied and your work experience before you joined the SABC Information Library)
Answer: My name is Nonhlanhla Thelma Hlapolosa, a mother of three. I grew up in Soweto (Mzimhlophe to be specific). I am currently studying Human Resource Management through UNISA. I did not have any experience when I started here in the SABC. I was fresh from school with my Matric and employed as a temp. (That was 1994). I was employed as a library assistant. Then my contract was extended from six months to a year from a year to permanent post in May 1995.
Please tell us about a normal day in your office. What newspaper articles do you give priority to?
Answer: My normal day starts on my way to work with news post on the road of headlines from different newspapers. By the time I am in the office I already know what the requests are going to be, from scandals of celebrities to politics and sports and current affairs. Newspapers are scanned by Themba Mtshali. Then we select what we view as important topics. Information requests from clients come by email, telephone or otherwise (internally/externally). Data cleansing is done while indexing. We search information on Sabinet, Newbase, Media24 and other search engines; export articles to the intranet; monitor the Newbase server; update topic list on the system and administrate and correct minor mistakes done during indexing and scanning processes.
Tell us more about your collection and the scope of material you need to preserve in the library.
Answer: The cutting section has a backlog of manual files of about a million articles (not currently scanned or indexed on Newbase). The Newbase system has a backlog from 2006 to date. Last year we managed to put all TRC collection on the system. However, the Mandela collection and the ANC, SABC and Elections collections still need to be scanned and indexed.
Do you struggle with technical difficulties, and if so, what?
Answer: Some days we do experience technical difficulties, the server would just act up and we need to reboot our system, wait for BIT to assist us but we manage. It needs to be said that we have a good system (Newbase).
If you have an anecdote about a specific piece of interesting information, please share it with us.
Answer: I can say all the collections, especially articles from the files. However I came across the ANC and NNP files and there is a lot that needs to be preserved. If it were up to me I would say every file in cutting service should be scanned and indexed immediately.
Tell us why you enjoy doing the work that you do.
Answer: The satisfaction on the faces of all our clients and learning the history of the country on a daily basis is fascinating!
Interview with the Information Librarian at the SABC Information Library
Questions and blog post by Karen du Toit, Afrikaans Archivist in the SABC Radio Archives