Monday, August 19, 2013

An Academic Library as a National Reference Library in Uganda #wlic2013

An Academic Library as a National Reference Library: contributions of Makerere University Library in promoting civic literacy, by Andrew Mwesigwa (Makerere University, Kampala (Maklib), Uganda), is the next paper at the IFLA World library and Information Conference in Singapore
As well as a university library, it is also a national reference library and deposit library, and so it has a wide range of populations to serve. So for example they give information literacy training to members of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces.
In this paper (which you can read in full at they analysed Maklib's position in terms of civic literacy. They did a SWOT analysis and then did a qualititative investigation at a primary school, collecting data from pupils and teachers.
Strengths include:
- access to unique collections, in their Africana section. Through this it has contributed to nation building, including helping government departments to gain access to documents to make decisions.
- they have developed a working relationship with authors and publishers
- a "convivial" external user policy - so the public come come in to use archives or read newspapers
- an information literacy campaign reaches users from all walks of life, and the librarians have influenced generations of users
The key weakness is having to operate with minimal resources. Among the opportunities are opportunities for collaboration to enhance civic literacy campaigns, and the existing community of users. Threats include environmental factors (which threaten preservation of material).
As regards the opinions of the primary school, there was a concentration on the impact of a book donation programme: students felt that:
- book donation was worthwhile
- reading of English improved, and students got inspired to go to university rather than just visit
Their teachers felt that the books donated were a patriotic act "which exemplified librarians in civic society" and supported the promotion of books and reading. The speaker finished by stating Maklib's continuing commitment to civic literacy
Photo by Sheila Webber: Tree structures in the Gardens at the bay, Singapore, August 2013

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