Academic library Essay
Opportunities to enhance service 12 Professional development objectives 12 Professional development needs 13 Immediate needs: CIT 13 Immediate needs: general 15 Long-range needs: information and communications technology 15 Long-range needs: general Professional development recommendations 18 1. Establishment of regional training center(s) 18 2. Implementation of a Training Team approach 19 3. Identification, adaptation, and/or development of training modules Establishment of targeted grants 20 5. International library leadership program 20 194. Of Carnegie Grantees in East and West Africa
A Report to the Carnegie Corporation of New York on visits to University of Dark sees Salaam (Tanzania), Maker University (Uganda), University of Ghana/Logon (Ghana) and the University of Education at Winnebago (Ghana), Muhammad Belle University (Nigeria), University of Joss (Nigeria), and Baffin Allow University (Nigeria). By staff of the Morton Center for International Library Programs, University of Illinois Library at Urbana-Champaign: June 2004 Introduction The mission of every library is to facilitate access to systems of knowledge relevant to the pursuit of inquiry and study.
The development of information delivery systems is a key component of knowledge discovery and modern technology greatly enhances such systems. Libraries – academic, public or organizationally specific -? have commonly been among the early adopters of any technology
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Aaron Salesman in his work The Internet on Earth: a Geography of Information mints out that “North America is 115 times more connected than Africa” and further notes that “within developing countries, the connected populations are predominantly urban elites. “l Our research certainly supports the observations of others, that even the premier bandwidth capacity that interferes with any networking beyond the immediately local community. These Universities expend considerable sums of money for minimal Internet access, and that access which they do have is severely constricted as nations to the West come online during the day.
It is effectively a premium resource in emitted supply under contention by an expanding number of users. Securing the Linchpin: More Bandwidth at Lower Cost compiled by the Bandwidth Task Force Secretariat at the University of Dark sees Salaam, Dark sees Salaam, Tanzania for the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa, outlines the challenges in detail. The implications are that sufficient bandwidth would resolve a broad range of institutional problems. Adequate bandwidth for the support of research is certainly an important element in any set of supportive measures to assist university development in the regions.
However, the focus on bandwidth can also distract from overall underlying factors that also affect the ability of these institutions to function not simply as users of, but as contributors to, a developing international information resource. Few university librarians have any experience with a fully functional state of the art library, creating conceptual difficulties that affect institutional planning. Library and technology vendors are unwilling to visit African libraries or attend association meetings to demonstrate their products, limiting exposure to what is available.
Because training has not been consistently and easily available, technical as well as rotational skills vary and are hard to keep up to date. University resources have become even more limited over the past thirty years, creating even greater barriers to information access and fostering a greater dependence on external funding. This analysis attempts to identify the central issues and propose solutions that emerge from a clearer understanding of the essential problems. There are a set of issues common to all university libraries which can be addressed generally and, in some instances, cooperatively.
Morton Center and Workshops The Morton Center for International Library Programs at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign received a grant from the Carnegie Corporation in early 2004 to assess the capabilities of the libraries of seven African universities. All seven universities are Carnegie grantees. The Morton Center for International Library Programs is a non-degree professional development program for librarians around the world. Since 1992 more than 600 librarians from 86 countries have participated in Center programs and the Center staff have considerable experience in designing training programs.
Staff participating in the visit to Africa included: Barbara Ford, director, and Susan Scanner, assistant director. They were Joined by a colleague from the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Joyce Lethal in all the countries except Nigeria. This review focuses on user access to information. Discussion includes the resources of the libraries in areas such as collections and databases, staff development training, bibliographic instruction for users, understanding of international standards, and related services.
New technologies and their role in libraries are a key part of the assessment, which focused on the evaluation of the need for professional development training for Barry staff. Common Challenges The Morton Center team visited University of Ghana Logon and University of Education at Winnebago in Ghana; Muhammad Belle University, University of Joss, and Baffin Allow University in Nigeria; Dark sees Salaam University in Tanzania; and Maker University in Uganda.
The Morton Center team spent two days on each campus to meet with vice-chancellors, university librarians and their staff, CIT administrators and staff, Carnegie steering committees, and library users. They also toured libraries and CIT facilities. A set of common issues emerged from the visits ND observations, which are discussed in the remainder of this report. ISSUE: Local context Political and economic stability Several of the countries have lived through challenging political situations that have negatively impacted the operations of the country and of universities.
Economic challenges include under-funding of universities and their libraries and weak currencies that have little purchasing power on the international market. Varied external funding sources and agendas Each of the universities receives external funds from a number of sources such as the Carnegie Corporation, the Association of African Universities, International Association of University Presidents, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.
Each of these agencies has its own agenda and priorities which may overlap. While the projects are crucial to the development of the university and its libraries, conflicting priorities can create management problems and divert attention from other pressing issues. Rapid growth of student population The rapid growth of student populations has provided enormous challenges to the universities. In some instances, universities have grown from 7,000 to 30,000 students in a short time. Unfortunately financial support for universities has not kept pace with enrollment growth.
Without substantial support from the government and, in some instances, lacking the ability to charge tuition, universities are struggling to provide needed services. Lecture halls, hostels, and libraries are packed with students, and there is physically not enough space to provide education and services for all the students. At the same time, there is a great demand for university universities. In at least one case, a vice chancellor indicated that the university would not delay implementation of new programs despite a shortage of materials to purport the program.
ISSUE: Physical infrastructure Power Grid The main libraries appear to have a more reliable power source than many of the departmental libraries. Electrical failures are common, but most of the main libraries do have a backup source for primary systems. Departmental libraries may not. Two medical libraries had been without power for extended periods. Temperature control The climate is hard on materials, and none of the libraries had climate control throughout the buildings. Mold was obvious in some buildings. Open windows expose materials to accelerated degradation.
While central switching technology ay be housed in temperature controlled environments, PC’s on the floor were not; some were setup in windows, exposing them to the potential damage of high heat, while those on the floor were also exposed to extremes of dust. Library buildings and equipment Most library buildings showed signs of wear and tear. In some universities plans were under way for extension to current facilities or to build a new facility. Few buildings had the necessary or safe wiring for the technology. It was not uncommon to see numerous extension cords due too lack of power outlets.
Many of the stacks were closed-access. Most building lacked security features and few had accessibility features. Much of the furniture was worn and shelving was not always secure. Students live in a variety of accommodations either on or around campus, frequently sharing small rooms with six to seven other students. The only study place on campus is the library which usually does not have enough seats to meet the demand. Most of the lighting, when it was working, was inadequate. Computer Equipment As with many institutions, the number of total computers and printers for student and staff access was inadequate.
Most librarians shared computers among homeless, and students were frequently seen two or three to a machine. The speed of repairs for damaged equipment was affected by the ability to procure component parts, in some instances available only in western countries and requiring pre-payment. As noted above, while telecommunications equipment may be housed in temperature controlled conditions, the hardware on the floor often is not, exposing it to extremes of heat and dust. On site One university was using a wireless backbone.
The other six universities had laid a fiber optic backbone for the main campuses, commonly six to 12 strands, However, molly, not all the fiber was in use. One of the university information and communications technology (ACT) professionals was unsure of the installed capacity for his university, and unclear about how much was actually operational. Six of the main libraries had fiber run to the exterior wall; it was their responsibility to arrange connectivity from inside the building to the backbone. Distant and departmental libraries may be less well connected.
External Internet access was via satellite; the best capacity was a 1. 5-megabyte downlink and a 1. 0-megabyte uplink. The lowest capacity was a 1. -megabyte downlink and a 512- kilobyte uplink. This was insufficient; however, the cost prohibits increased access. The average cost for bandwidth was $10,000 per month. Local area networks All main libraries possess some configurations of local area networks (Lana), with computer centers for students. One library was actively extending wiring for power and Ethernet access throughout the main building, while another was testing the limits of wireless networking.
Departmental libraries vary, depending on their function and sources of funding. Departmental libraries require departmental support. In at least one instance a departmental library was more sophisticated than the main institutional library. Strategies Each university CIT department is investigating strategies for keeping traffic local, running on the higher capacity in-house bandwidth. Two universities discussed the distribution of local email accounts to compete with the Web-based email services, like Yahoo and Hotmail. Some institutions were limiting user access to Yahoo and Hotmail during the day.
Another institution would like to mirror the online e-Journal server on an in-house database server, so all Journal retrieval could be kept local. The penitence of e-Journal publishers on the Adobe Acrobat Reader (PDF) format taxes the low bandwidth of the Internet service. ISSUE: Database development and acquisition/retrospective conversion Cataloging Because of shared cataloging enabled by the standardization of the MARC record, much current cataloging was simply “capture” cataloging from a common database. The captured record was then edited to reflect institutional holdings for the selected title.
Two university libraries used a product (Bibliophile) for their current cataloging process, while another used the Library of Congress online system. The two products fifer. One location had no resource, however, and indicated that vendors had yet to respond to their attempts at contact. Retrospective conversion The conversion of the print catalog to a digital record was time consuming and expensive. One library had completed the retrospective conversion in house; two had begun the conversion process on an apparently limited scale, and the others were discussing strategies for beginning the conversion process.
It should be noted that the integrated library systems cannot fully function without the central database. While funding was available to purchase the hardware for integrated Barry systems, funding for the development of the database has been left unaddressed. Online public access catalogs The online public access catalog (OPAC) is the premier product of any modern library. However, it is only as good as the database behind it. The university libraries possessed varying degrees of expertise in, and even comprehension of, the significance of a robust digital catalog, how to create it and how to maintain it.
Related procedures such as weeding of the collection and inventory control require attention and created immediate training needs. Local databases Two of the university libraries were actively engaged in the creation of databases to track their print article collections. In one case they were making use of CDC-ISIS, a database product developed by UNESCO and distributed for free. This was a less than robust solution. There were issues concerning indexing and abstracting strategies, whether for a print or a digital database, that required attention in all institutions.
Acquired or donated databases Most of the libraries had access to databases provided by non-governmental organizations (Nags) and other sources. Access to external databases was severely emitted by the lack of bandwidth and computers in libraries. Librarians did not have easy access so they could enhance their searching skills, and users often were not aware of what was available, since librarians had not promoted use of the databases due to very limited access. In at least one location, the librarians had to pay for their Internet access.
ISSUE: Integrated library systems Purchased systems The integrated library system (ILLS) coordinates a range of functions to manage the development of the library collection. These functions include cataloging, circulation, purchased systems. One was fully installed, while another was operational but using a minimal MARC database. Another had been purchased but not implemented due to the lack of a MARC database. Vendor relations Libraries in this part of Africa were seriously constrained in their evaluation and selection process, as vendors were simply unwilling to provide on site demonstrations.
Support for products was similarly offered at a distance, and the cost of on-site training was extremely high. While the libraries had funds for the purchase of a system, it was unclear what provision had been made for maintenance of these systems. As most ILLS vendors make their real profit through the maintenance line, even funds available for purchase may not be a sufficient inducement to established providers. The one university with a system fully implemented did not control the process, was assisted by a European university and was limited to a choice of two possible vendors.
Consortia planning One library indicated involvement with a group of other libraries in the evaluation of ILLS vendors, with a view to establishing a common vendor for all participants. This was an excellent strategy, as it could make it worthwhile for vendors to invest time ND energy in the support of a regional system. However, funding disparities among the institutions could create barriers to implementation on a regional level, as well as misunderstandings about how consortia arrangements function to serve all members.
The western region had experimented with a wide area network providing basic connectivity to universities in the area, but the project failed to grow and develop. ISSUE: Library staffing and development Difficulties in retaining staff/outdated staffing patterns Each library had staff dedicated to CIT support for the library, funded from the library judged. In some instances the CIT staffing was temporary, as it resulted from the public service commitment of the university graduates’ training and education.
Some of these CIT staff did not have extensive experience or orientation to library service and practice. All library staff needed training to deal with new technologies. On-the- job training to improve CIT skills was necessary for all library staff in a phased manner. Salaries were generally low, and staff with CIT skills could often find better paying employment in situations where they could develop additional skills. There as strong competition for technical expertise within the institutions, among institutions, and with external employers.
Technical staff tended to acquire experience within the public sector and then migrate to better paying Jobs in the private sector. In some cases, major library reorganizations would be needed to achieve the technological innovation that was hoped for. Each of the libraries was undertaking initiatives relating to technologies. Most were using databases for their current cataloging, and some were doing retrospective conversion. Some local databases were being developed. Most libraries had not purchased an integrated library system, and one university intended to develop its own system.
Librarians were learning on the Job about technology, and familiarity was often not common among library staff. The variety of approaches was interesting, and university library staff could benefit from sharing their expertise among institutions. Isolation from what is happening in library and information world In many cases, librarians were learning about technologies through the literature, since they were unable to travel to conferences with many vendors present, and there were no braises nearby that have already implemented technologies.
One CIT library specialist commented that: “l would love to see a fully automated library; I would then know what my goal is. ” With limited access to the Internet and email as well as the print professional literature, librarians were not easily able to browse the web and Join electronic discussion groups. Libraries were constrained in their evaluation and selection process as vendors were simply unwilling to provide on-site demonstrations. Support for products was similarly offered at a distance, and the cost of onsite training was extremely high.
Lack of exposure to international standards and experience Since librarians had not generally been able to attend conferences outside the region and have limited access to the literature, there was sometimes a lack of exposure to international standards and experience. In some cases, the librarians were developing internal standards, unaware of the existence of international standards. In one library, a digital project was implemented without consulting standards. Geographic isolation means that there was little opportunity to learn in person from others or to share expertise.
Because vendors were often unwilling to provide on-site ministrations, librarians did not have the opportunity to learn from seeing a variety of systems. Professional development opportunities Many librarians had participated in regional and local training opportunities and were quite enthusiastic about the experience. The common complaint was that there needed to be more training, adjusted to local need, paced at the right speed, and with follow-up possibilities. Many of the librarians had received technical training before they had access to a computer and were not able to retain much of the training.
Several librarians mentioned the need for better access to technical assistance when implementing a new system. Some of the libraries were beginning to organize a staff development office in the library, recognizing that their needs would be better met by well-trained experts within the library. Institutional CIT We requested meetings with CIT staff at each university, and had an opportunity at each location to engage, to varying degrees, with the CIT personnel on general support issues, and support for the library specifically.
All CIT departments had responsibility for the installation, development and expansion of the fiber optic backbone. For one institution, that was the full extent of their responsibility. One CIT department had developed a full range of training opportunities, including certification programs addressing networking, programming and support products; these classes were available for a fee to university personnel. Library CIT budget. Departmental ‘CT, like departmental libraries, were commonly funded from departmental budgets.
At least two of the institutions had very involved CIT managers; however, the degree of involvement did not always reflect the extent of understanding of library service and practice. Underlying tensions reflected, in some instances, a failure to establish the inter-relationship of technological support for modern library practice. Technical staff tended to acquire experience within the public sector and then migrate to better paying Jobs in the private sector.
One CIT departmental strategy was to flood the market with technical skill, but, given the permeable borders, that may take a considerable period of time. External CIT training: library associations The range of training opportunities offered by national library associations varied with the strength of those associations. Some library staff reported access to one or woo day seminars on various practices, only to lose the impact of the training due to an inability to implement or practice what was learned.
This was not uncommon, even in developed areas, where hardware could still be a limited resource. Library associations also needed to identify or develop a pool of technical experts familiar with library practice who could offer training relevant to the immediate situation. External CIT training: special projects Training available for the implementation of specific projects – such as the digitization of university theses – may not incorporate a full awareness of the extractions under which libraries operate.