24 August 2020 | Story Amanda Tongha | Photo Supplied
Keitumetse Betsy Eister says the information they provide is used by researchers “in conducting much-needed research aimed at contributing towards the knowledge base of South Africa, knowledge aimed at building our nation towards a developed country”.

The role of Keitumetse Betsy Eister, Director: Library and Information Services – who leads a diverse team of 65 staff members – is to ensure that the University of the Free State community has access to information. This is done to “support lecturers in teaching researched content to undergraduate and postgraduate students and to assist students in their learning expedition by supporting them towards academic success and life-long learning”. Giving an overview of the role of the UFS Library and Information Services, Eister adds that the information they provide is used by researchers “in conducting much-needed research aimed at contributing towards the knowledge base of South Africa, knowledge aimed at building our nation towards a developed country”. This information is also beneficial to support staff and the management of the university, who are using it to deliver well-researched services.

With a masters’ degree in Library and Information Services and working on her PhD, Eister is the right person to ensure that the right information gets to the right people. A mother of two and someone that colleagues look up to, there is much to learn about this UFS champion woman. 

Tell us about yourself

I was born and bred in Thaba Nchu 56 years ago. I remain grateful and proud of the type of parents I had, who instilled in me the belief and love for education, a foundation that has grounded me and led me to where I am today. 

I believe in the teachings of the late Steven Covey, one of which is “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”. In short, he says you need to stay focused on what you choose to do. In staying focused, I prefer to be driven by principles that have proven to have worked well in humanity, such as the government’s batho pele principles, ubuntu principles, ethical leadership principles, and so on.
On being a UFS staff member
I am proud of the 10 years I have spent as a Kovsie, with staff members who always remind me about the positive contributions I have made in their lives. Many of them have worked on their qualifications, some have obtained their first degrees, while others have improved their qualifications. At this stage, I can safely say the UFS LIS is a learning organisation, with four of us busy with doctoral studies, four with master’s studies, three with their honours, and six with their first degrees. We have also been working on our research capabilities, with two articles already published. 
Advice to her 15-year-old self

Looking back, I see a little girl who fortunately made the right choices in life. The most important one was to listen to my parents. I went to a girls’ high school, the St Anne’s High School. At one stage, we performed the Bible story, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, and I played the role of one of Pharaoh’s dancers. I developed a love for dancing and wanted to turn it into a career. My parents advised me to get my education first; I wasn’t very pleased with that, but I listened to them. I am glad that this 15-year-old worked on her education; I believe I would never have been the self-actualised woman I am today, given the dancing-career opportunities that were scarce for black people during those years. I believe education is key, whether you want to work as an employee or run your own business. It brings with it the maturity and knowledge required in both areas of productivity.  
Women who inspires her

Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng, the UCT Vice-Chancellor. She is a classic example of what it means to spend the 24 hours we all have in a day; what you do with it depends on you. I see her using it to make an impact on a number of fronts within her circles of life, showing what ‘woman power’ is capable of. UCT students call her ‘Deputy Mother’, hooking up with them on social media. I, for example, join her every Sunday at 16:00 during her one-hour sessions, taking us through all aspects of postgraduate studies; this is for anyone to join, not only UCT students. She has now started sessions on building a career in academia. She seems to be living a balanced life, also making time for exercising and hiking.


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