Varsities’ Librarians Urged to Inspire Social Transformation

Prof. Odhiambo delivers the official opening remarks at the worshop flanked by Dr. Mangira

Librarians in universities have been urged to use the critical position they occupy in the knowledge and information production and dissemination to help the country address challenges arising from lack of utilitarian information to stimulate social-economic transformation among the  youth in Kenya.

Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs, Prof. Romanus Odhiambo was speaking during the official opening of the 47th UN/World Bank/Universities Librarians’ two-day workshop at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Thursday, November 9.

Representing the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mabel Imbuga at the function, Prof. Odhiambo, told the university librarians drawn from public and private universities and representatives from the World Bank Group and UN agencies that “electronic resources acquired through KLISC, had significantly enhanced access to diverse information resources in terms of affordability beyond the physical space of the library facility,” and singled out the role the Librarians played in negotiating for low prices of LexisNexis database from Ksh. 3.5m to only Ksh. 840, 000 among other benefits.

Ms. Nyabera engages the participants. On her left is Mr. Euppah and Mr. Stanlaus Agava from Tangaza University College (right).

The don further said, “The stakeholders’ initiative of resource mobilization and sharing” could only be made possible through such forums championed by the stakeholders, observing that the critical role Librarians play in facilitating staff and students in information search requests so that such resources are put to good use, is commendable.

While appreciating the promotional activities organized by the JKUAT Library such as the Emerald Knowledge Ambassador’s Workshop and the Open Access Week at JKUAT, Prof. Odhiambo was hopeful that “The librarians forum would further enhance the collaboration between the Kenyan universities, the UN and World Bank institutions in promoting information sharing as well as bridging information gap between the developed and developing economies.”

A section of Librarians follow the proceedings

The World Bank Group representative, Mr. Raphael Euppah, said the UN and the World Bank support the forum meetings in terms of trainings, chairing sessions, and coordinating partnership activities aimed at exchanging and sharing ideas on resource sharing, networking and staff development.

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UNEP) Head of Knowledge Management Unit, Hellen Nyabera appreciated the partnership saying, it seeks to build capacity of librarians as professionals in the advent of technological changes in the knowledge and information sector. “As stakeholders, we are constantly searching for areas of mutual interest especially what universities can learn from those who have already done it in order to avoid reinventing the wheel,” Nyabera observed.

Workshop participants pose for a group photo shortly after the official opening session.

Under the initiative, bi-monthly workshop meetings are organized on rotational basis in member institutions, where librarians share challenges and success stories experienced by individual institutions. During the meeting, Rongo University shared the journey of “Establishing school and community libraries through the African Library Project,” in a paper presented by Cary Francis Ouma and Joel Nakitare, while Jane Gicandi and Esther Obachi of Cooperative and Nairobi Universities respectively, made a case for “The Researcher ID”. Virginiah Gitare of UNEP decried the poor uptake of “Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE) System” in universities.

The host University Librarian Dr. Roselyne Mangira, shared the challenges and progress made by the JKUAT Library in its effort to serve students and faculty as well as the local community.  She also thanked the University Management for accepting to host and support the workshop. The next worshops will be held early next year at Karatina University and Turkana University College.