Tuesday, June 12, 2012

SCECSAL 2012: Post Conference Views

Uganda Library and Information Association members
Winners of SCECSAL 2012 Culltural Evening Performance
I commend Kenya Library Association (KLA) for a successful SCECSAL 2012 conference. The attendance at the conference was more than I had expected. About 330 delegates, including the largest airborne delegation of about 40 participants from Zambia, took part in the conference. About 78 papers were presented, and the quality of most presentations was very high. The conference venue (Laico Regency Hotel) was ideal, and of course, the food during lunch breaks was great. The conference registration fee (US$300), although some would say that it was relatively high, I think was ok considering the costs involved in organizing such conferences. Performances during the Cultural Evening, on 6 June, were outstanding.  Shame on Malawi Library Association (MALA) for refusing to perform. I hope MALA learned a lesson from the lone rangers from Nigeria, Norway and United Kingdom who put up excellent performances. Congratulations to Uganda Library and Information Association for winning the Cultural Evening trophy. I never knew that library and information professionals could double as traditional dancers until I watched the act from Uganda. They were original, well organized, and deserved to win. I suspected that Kenya Library Association tried to rig the competition. I could hardly recognize any of the dancers in the Kenyan group. Where were all the well-known library and information professional dancers from Kenya? Jacinta Were? Rosemary Gitachu? Joseph Kiplang’at? Constantine Nyamboga? Tirong arap Tanui? Peter Weche, although officially not part of the dancing group, did his best to support the dancing group by illegally dancing on the floor (and not on the designated dancing area). It was too late. Mmmmmmmmm! I enjoyed the evening. The music by Kayamba Africa was great.
The challenge is now for Malawi Library Association (MALA), designated host for SCECSAL 2014, to beat SCECSAL 2012. In my view, the areas requiring improvement, which MALA should look at, include the following:
  •  Registration process: the registration process at SCECSAL 2012 could have been better. I am sure that some individuals took advantage of the seemingly uncoordinated process and participated in the conference without registering and paying the registration fee. It is advisable to commence onsite registration at least a day before the conference to carter for the early arrivals, especially participants coming from outside the country.
  • Access to conference venue/meeting rooms: only registered participants with valid participant’s badges MUST be allowed to enter the meeting rooms. Free access to the conference rooms at SCECSAL 2012 contributed to the security breaches and loss of valuable items experienced during the conference.
  • Conference papers: some paper presenters complained that their papers were not included in the publication containing the conference papers. I know how difficult it might have been for KLA to have all the papers submitted in time for the publication. Maybe in future the organizers should inform potential paper presenters/authors to submit papers by a certain date, if they are to be included in the publication. Inclusion in the publication of paper submitted after that date should be at the discretion of the SCECSAL host Association. Host Associations should also ensure that basic editing and layout of the papers to ensure uniformity and consistence is done. This is visibly missing from the SCECSAL 2012 publication.
  • Author Awards: why is it that only Namibia (2000) and South Africa (2002) managed to organize SCECSAL Author Awards? The Author Awards page on the SCECSAL web site outlines clearly the guidelines for awards.  Shame on Uganda Library and Information Association (2004), Tanzania Library Association (2006), Zambia Library Association (2008), Botswana Library Association (2010) and Kenya Library Association (2012) for failing to organize the Author Awards competition!. Shame will also be on MALA if they fail to do so in 2014. As my Nigerian brothers and sisters would say: Chineke! God forbid.
  • Minutes of the General Assembly: follow-up on the deliberations of the SCECSAL General Assembly is rather poor due to late distribution of the minutes of the meeting. Why should SCECSAL member Library Associations accept to distribute the minutes of the meeting two years after the meeting? Let  Article 5 (5.6) of the SCECSAL constitution guide the host associations on this matter.
Zambia Library Association members
Runners-up SCECSAL 2012 Culltural Evening Performance
For my last word, let me say that I felt sorry for my sister (Nomsa Mkwanazi) from Swaziland Library Association (SWALA) when she was presenting SWALA’s bid to host SCECSAL 2014. SWALA lost the bid to KLA in 2012 and I am assuming that they were on standby to host 2012 SCECSAL. If this was the case, then all that was required from SWALA was to follow the procedure outlined in Article 6 (6.6) of the SCECSAL Constitution, and SCECSAL 2014 would have been theirs to host. No bids would have been required. SWALA, pleaase, give it a thought for SCECSAL 2016.

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