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Incorporating supply chain techniques: total quality management and process re-engineering at the University of KwaZulu-Natal libraries.

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The most important unit of every academic institution is the library. When assessing the state of an institution, visitors from across the globe start by visiting the library. If the library is in shambles, it becomes evident that the institution somewhat requires intervention. Supply chain management has been identified as a solution to inefficiency problems faced by many organizations. As a means to save costs, increase efficiency, eliminate waste and improve quality, organizations are moving away from the traditional methods of operating and are recruiting supply chain techniques, including the Total Quality Management (TQM) and process re-engineering. This study aimed to explore the techniques which can be used to move from a traditional brick-and-mortar library setting to a virtual setting of retrieving information as a means of maintaining quality and efficiency of services. Users of libraries are technologically driven and require access to information from wherever they are, without having to visit the premises. A qualitative study was done across the five UKZN campus libraries by way of interviews. Ten library management and employees in positions where advancements are necessary or implemented participated in in-depth interviews to find out whether the implementation has been beneficial to support research, teaching and learning. A purposive sampling method was used to select participants and data collected was a transcribed verbatim collated into themes using coding. It is thus established from the findings that libraries must rethink their processes, which can be done by employing supply chain techniques as a vehicle to deliver the change required by the 21st century library users. Based on these findings, the following recommendations were made:- to employ triple bottom line reporting should form part of the UKZN libraries strategic plan, monitoring of electronic resources turn-aways, employ an effective risk management procedure, invest in research and development, incorporate reserve logistics and third-party logistics in processes.


Master’s Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.