Friday, August 12, 2011

Librarians Advised to Innovate or Become Irrelevant

Dr. Vitalicy Chifwepa delivering the keynote address
Librarians in Zambia have been called upon to be innovative or they will find themselves irrelevant in the fast changing information environment. Speakers during the morning session of the first day of the Zambia Library Association (ZLA) Annual Conference, at Lake Safari Lodge in Siavonga, urged information professionals in the country to move from the notion of “business as usual”, to take up the reins and drive the information profession in the country. Discussions at the conference showed that developments in the world information environment, among others, have resulted into:

  • Several competing professions in the information environment resulting in certain jobs which hitherto use to be a preserve for librarians being carried out by other professionals;
  • Modern information and communication technologies such as the Internet and Web 2.0/social media have opened up new sources of information to potential library users
In his keynote address, Dr. Vitalicy Chifwepa, University Librarian at the University of Zambia, called upon librarians in the country to have foresight, be alert and catch-up with the changing and up-coming technologies that are having an impact on the delivery of library and information services. Librarians in the country need to move at the same pace as their users if they are to provide the services the users will ever require.
Prof. Mary Wagner

Prof. Mary Wagner, during her presentation on Public Libraries: Catalyst for Information Literacy indicated that public libraries are essential infrastructure in a democratic society and should play a key and supportive role an information literate society.  However, faced with the problems of under-funding and poor library infrastructure, public librarians need to innovate and should consider providing targeted services to their communities within the limited resources available. Potentially, public librarians should target children, adults in employment, immigrants and émigrés, and provide ICT facilities for use by the communities.

In his paper on Information Professionals as "Hybrid Managers” in the Knowledge Economy: A Review from the Zambian Perspective, Mr. Sitali Wamundila, a lecturer in the Department of Library and Information Studies, urged information professionals in the country to transform themselves into “hybrids” capable of performing various roles in the information economy, if they are to compete  effectively with other information professionals. There is also need for the information professionals in the country to effect several changes including skills sets, mind sets and professional culture.

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