Tuesday, August 19, 2014

SCECSAL 2014 was an eye opener

By Ocatvia Kgwasa
Participant from South Africa

Participants at a parallel session durng SCECSAl 2014
Being a young professional in the Library and Information Science (LIS) field, SCECSAL 2014 was an eye-opener. The papers presented showed how far information professionals and librarians have come in this ever changing technological world. The theme was relevant to what’s happening today. We need an information literate society for our continent to thrive and prosper. It is true, the Internet, has brought about a few challenges for the LIS professionals. How we have overcome those challenges and manage to remain relevant and important is interesting. The ideas shared through research are inspirational. The conference was well organised. It’s very unfortunate that some of the presenters were not able to make it. On the whole, the conference is necessary.

Given the opportunity, I would attend the next SCECSAL conference. It provides one with a platform to learn from LIS professionals in other countries and how far ahead, or behind one’s institution is in terms of the technological advancements and techniques in the field.

It’s always a great opportunity to be out of the office to attend training or a conference, especially when it is in another country. With that being said, I will admit, it was an awesome opportunity to be able to have attended SCECSAL XXI in Malawi.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development

Please, access, read and sign the Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development. The Declaration is also available in PDF in English, French, Arabic and Spanish.

Here is the list of stakeholders that have already signed the Declaration.

The Declaration was drafted by IFLA and a number of strategic partners in the library and development communities between January and May 2014.

SCECSAL 2014 was great, but…

By Chiza Longwe
SCECSAL 2014 Participant from Malawi

Indeed  SCECSAL 2014  was  a wonderful forum where librarians  came and  discuss  issues which affect  the  profession. However, SCECSAL   2014,  held  in Malawi,  had  a few  hiccups which  I  need  to  highlight.

A participant asking a question during
SCECSAL 2014 paralel session
I am not very much comfortable with parallel sessions. As was the case in Malawi, some parallel sessions were poorly attended. In some cases, especially when participants arrived lade after announcements had been made about the parallel sessions, they were confined to the session in marquee instead of attending the other session. As a result most of us missed on the discussions held in the other parallel session.

A large number of paper presenters did not turn up and they were still scheduled by the Organizers to present their papers. No reasons were given why they presenters never came. The programme continued as planned and as a result there was a lot of time wasted. The non-arrival of some paper presenters denied an opportunity to others whose papers were not accepted on the basis that there were too many papers to be included on the programme.

I  also  observed  that  the conference  proceedings were  not ready  at the  time  the Conference was opening. I remember at the SCECSAL conferences in 2006 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and 2008 in Lusaka, Zambia, the papers were published in a book and were distributed to participants during registration.  I hope come SCECSAL 2016, the conference proceedings will be ready.

Attendance at SCECSAL 2014 by participants from outside Malawi was somehow low. I believe, people were thinking of IFLA than our SCECSAL, which was held too close to the IFLA conference.

The other point which I need to mention is to do with the coverage of the theme of the conference in the papers. I am of the view that most of our presenters did not highlight the theme of this year in their papers. Some papers were presented as if we were in Tutorial class and a student was presenting an assignment. This was the case for most papers that were based on Master’s degree research projects. We need to improve on this one.

Another point was the lack of transport arrangements to the conference centre which I think contributed to the sessions starting late and lack of networking among the participants. The delegates were scattered all over Lilongwe, and they had to commute to and from the conference Centre.  This resulted in late arrivals at the conference venue. Some of us missed to network with the delegates and ended up knowing very few delegates.

I am also of the view that Library and Information Science schools should have been given a platform to talk about the problems they are experiencing as Library Schools, and how they admit students in their schools. SCECSAL is a good forum to promote the LIS programmes in the region.

Finally, I am of the view that the closing speech by the Chairman concentrated too much on National Library Service of Malawi than on SCECSAL itself. This was a SCECSAL event and issues affecting the profession in the region should have been highlighted to the Guest of Honour.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

NIWA and ZimLA miss SCECSAL 2014

The Namibia Information Workers Association (NIWA) and the Zimbabwe Library Association
Participants at SCECSAL 2014 walking to the conference venue
(ZimLA) failed to send official delegates to the SCECSAL 2014 held in Lilongwe, Malawi, from 28 July to 1 August. 

NIWA’s failure to take part in SCECSAL 2014 conferences was attributed, in some quarters, to the inability by the professionals in the country to organize themselves and plan for such events. However, a participant from Namibia attributed this to the fact that NIWA has very few members, in fact less than 40.

NIWA has also failed to make available, in digital format for posting on SCECSAL websites, its biennial country reports since 2004.
NIWA hosted SCECSAL 2002, rated among the best SCECSAL events in terms of organization, entertainment, and papers presented. For example, the SCECSAL Author Award and best paper presenters have so far only been awarded at SCECSAL 2000, organized by NIWA, and SCECSAL 2002 organized by the Library and Information Association of South Africa.

Regarding SCECSAL, the Zimbabwe Library Association has been in the doldrums for a long time. It has officially missed several SCECSAL conferences and has not provided its biennial reports since SCECSAL 2004.  
It is difficult to understand why ZimLA missed SCECSAL 2014. The Association recently held its 48th Conference and Annual General Assembly, 24 - 27 June 2014, and one would have thought that participation in SCECSAL 2014 was also discussed on the side.

The few participants who came from Zimbabwe had no idea as to why there were no official representatives from ZimLA. It also looked like they had no link with ZimLA. No wonder, they could not organize themselves to take part in the SCECSAL 2014 Cultural Evening.
NIWA and ZimLA should note that when they are unable to send a member of their Executive Committees to attend and officially represent the Association at the SCECSAL conference, they can designate any member of their association, already traveling to the conference, to officially represent them. All they will have to do is to write a letter to the host Library Association indicating their designated representative and give him/her a copy of the country report to be presented at the SCECSAL General Assembly.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Post SCECSAL 2014: advice to library and information professionals

By Geoffrey Nyamasege
Library Assistant and Social Media Officer
Strathmore University, Nairobi, Kenya

The SCECSAL Conference held in Malawi’s capital city Lilongwe was a great success by all means. It drew paper presenters from across African countries and by extension from other parts of the world. There were many lessons learned. It’s my hope that such lessons would be applied in parent institutions and organizations to facilitate effective service delivery and to keep our users engaged. It’s behind this zeal then I would want to share my two cents of thoughts of what I think we should do as professionals.

Geoffrey Nyamasege presenting a paper on social media
at SCECSAL 2014, Lilongwe, Malawi
First and foremost, we all know and recognize that information is key in all sectors of the economy. Key because information cultivates knowledge.  This information must be created, organized and disseminated through effective and user friendly channels in order to benefit the users. To achieve this, information professionals need to study their surroundings and seize the opportunities such a surrounding presents. They must take the good of their environment.

Investing in creating and disseminating knowledge will facilitate generation of future knowledge.  Analyzing and interpreting research findings particularly from the just concluded SCECSAL 2014 will help formulation and implementation of actionable strategies. This will help in return improve our economies of scale. Therefore, we must recognize the importance of information in all sectors of the economy.

As professionals, we must think beyond the theories thought in classrooms of the role of libraries and information centres. We must now develop good practice out of these theories. We must envisage the changing roles of these institutions in research and development. For instance, we must think along the emerging roles such as supporting current knowledge and national economy; facilitating creation of new and impacting knowledge through research. We must look at the value of knowledge in our custody and that which is being created in relation to the way such knowledge is used.

Information professional must establish a good working relationship with the rest of the faculty. Their new role would be to improve perceptions and increase resources provision. To achieve this, they would need to continuously offer Information literacy programs. And here the use of web technologies plays a major role as an enabler to knowledge dissemination. It would help in the utilization of resources and above all, improve user independence.

Another key component is that Information professionals must make their presence known and felt. How? In the presentations made for instance, internet usage among them Social Media and web technologies, presents best platforms for the information professionals to engage their counterpart colleagues as well as their users. SCECSAL resorted to use LinkedIn, twitter and YouTube accounts. This will develop long term relationships and long-life learning.

Information professionals must use the available technologies and incorporate them as part of their best practices. However, to realize this, there must be an enabling environment as well as capacity development. Such platforms must equally be applied not just for social networking but for professional work. It’s therefore important that web technologies be an integral part of our work, part of our strategies for the purposes of our core mandate in higher education. All these must be aimed at providing quality service delivery to our users be it be on-campus or off-campus!

What do we need to do to achieve this? We must make it our responsibility and our business. We must continuously create awareness by convincing and making those that we serve understand why this is so critical.

Of importance, everything we do or engage in, must translate to quality service delivery of our clients. This is how we will get to impact higher education and the society. Then we must now look beyond. We must transform the social economic development both of our institutions and organizations as well as at the national level. But then, wait a minute! We must yearn to collaborate and share knowledge. We must formulate new channels of knowledge sharing. We must in our institutions and organizations improve the quality of readership and scholarship.

Monday, August 4, 2014

SCECSAL 2014 General Assembly makes major decisions

Participants at SCECSAL 2014
The SCECSAL 2014 conference’s General Assembly on Friday, in Lilongwe, Malawi, made major decisions that will have an impact on the hosting of the SCECSAL biennial conferences, management of SCECSAL affairs in between the conferences, and the visibility and communication of SCECSAL activities.
Month for SCECSAL conferences

Henceforth all SCECSAL conferences will be in the month of April. This decision was made to make it easier for potential participants to plan their participation in the Conference in advance. It will also prevent Member Association hosting the conference to hold it in July or August, months that have potentially presented problems due to their closeness to the IFLA conference, which is held in August.

Management of the SCECSAL affairs
In between the SCECSAL biennial conferences, a Committee of Presidents/Chairpersons of the Member Associations shall manage SCECSAL affairs. The President/Chairperson of the Association that hosted the recent past biennial conference shall chair the Committee for a period of two years. The President/Chairperson of the next host of the SCECSAL conference shall serve as Secretary to the Committee for a period of two years.

Social Media presence
In addition to the SCECSAL web site, the General Assembly agreed to establish a presence on social media, specifically on LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. An official SCECSAL blog will also be set-up. 

SCECSAL branding
The General Assembly agreed to re-brand SCECSAL, and adopted Blue, Green and Yellow as the main colours of the of the organization. A new logo will be designed.

Amendments to SCECSAL constitution
The General Assembly adopted a proposal to initiate amendments to the SCECSAL constitution.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

SWALA to host SCECSAL XXII conference in 2016

SWALA delegates at SCECSAL 2014
On Friday, in Lilongwe, Malawi, the SCECSAL 2014 General Assembly endorsed, by an unanimous decision, Swaziland Library Association (SWALA)’s bid to host the Twenty-second SCECSAL conference in 2016.

The Uganda Library and Information Association (ULIA) will be on standby to host the conference in the event that SWALA fails to do so. Article 6, Section 6.6 of the SCECSAL constitution also gives ULIA an automatic right to host SCECSAL XXIII in 2018, provided the Association confirms in writing its willingness to host the conference at least 3 months before SCECSAL XXII in Swaziland.

Friday, August 1, 2014

SCECSAL 2014 resolutions

CONSIDERING the significant role of information and knowledge in socio-economic development;

CONGNISANT of the on-going national and global consultations on the post-2015 development agenda;

RECOGNIZING the need to integrate digital technologies into library and information work for optimal access;

RECOGNIZING the rights of people with special needs;

We the delegates of the XXIst SCECSAL Conference resolve that:
  1. Each SCECSAL member association should align its activities to the national and global development agenda and report on its post-2015 strategy at the XXIInd SCECSAL in 2016.
  2. In line with parent institutional policies and strategies, libraries and information centres in the SCECSAL region should develop e-strategies that encompass open access, social media, digitisation and e-learning resources for the provision of optimal access.
  3. SCECSAL member associations should host national conversations on the provision of information services to people with special needs.

Done, this 1st Day of August 2014, at Sunbird Capital Hotel, Lilongwe, Malawi.

PDF copy of the resolutions

SCECSAL 2014 cultural evening

South Africa




Dancing to Kukere by by Nigerian recording artist Iyanya


Traditional dancers from Malawi