Friday, August 12, 2011

Use of Social Networking Tools in Libraries in Zambia

Conference Participants
A survey by Mr. Charles Banda, Reference and Electronic Services Librarian at the Copperbelt University, in Kitwe, Zambia has shown that social networking tools are hardly used for work related activities by librarians in the country. In a paper presented at the Zambia Library Association (ZLA) Annual Conference, 11 – 13 August 2011, held at Lake Safari Lodge in Siavonga, located on the banks of the Lake Kariba in Zambia, results of the survey on the use of social networking tools by librarians in three public universities – Copperbelt University, University of Zambia and the Mulungushi University showed that various reasons are responsible for this state of affairs and these include:
  • Restrictions from the Information Technology Departments on what web-based facilities/services that can be accessed;
  • Bandwidth challenges;
  • Lack of time by librarians to use social media;
  • Lack of knowledge among librarians on the use of social media;
  • No interest – librarian preferring to do things the way they have always been done.
The paper recommends, among others, that:
  • Librarians should embrace social networking tools;
  • Training of librarians in the use of social networking tools to facilitate and enhance the adoption of the tools/technologies should be conducted;
  • Librarians and IT professionals in the universities should collaborate in the implementation of social networking tools in university;
  • The library and information studies curriculum should be revised to take into account social media;
  • Internet bandwidth in universities should be increased to facilitate and enhance access to social media based services and facilities.
Part of Lake Kariba
The workshop was followed by a seminar on Web 2.0 and Libraries services facilitated by Justin Chisenga. The seminar, among others, looked at the potential application of Web 2.0 in libraries and by librarians in their work; cases of Web 2.0 in libraries; and creating a blog using blogger. Copies, on CDs, of FAO Information and Management Resource Kit (IMARK) modules on Web 2.0 and Social Medial for Development, Knowledge Sharing for Development, and Digitization and Digital Libraries, were distributed to participants.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Workshop Highlights Challenges to Agricultural Information Management

Participants in the Plenary Session
Participants from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe at a workshop on Agricultural Information Management and Knowledge Exchange for Eastern and Southern Africa have highlighted the major challenges hindering information management and knowledge exchange in the ministries of agriculture in the region. The opening day of the workshop which took place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 20 – 22 July 2011, saw participants enumerate several problems, among them inadequate investments in agricultural information activities and the absence of information management policies and strategies to facilitate the management and sharing of information in the ministries of agriculture.

Other challenges highlighted and closely linked to the above two, include:
  • Inadequate information and communication technology facilities
  • Inadequate capacity in information management and knowledge exchange
  • Weak libraries and documentation units/centres
The participants also noted lack of coherence in information activities in the ministries. They indicated that several departments and units, i.e. statistics, ICT, extension, library, etc, are involved in information and knowledge management activities and yet these rarely talk to each in as far as management and dissemination of information generated in the ministry is concerned. A result, different information management systems and standards are used and sometimes there is duplication of efforts.

Group Discussion
The workshop is funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization - Regional Office for Africa through ITOCA – Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa, based in Centurion, South Africa, and hosted by ITOCA East Africa Office in Nairobi. The main goal of the workshop is to introduce the participants to information management standards and guidelines, and some tools, aimed at capacity development and effective agricultural information management and knowledge exchange at maximum cost efficiencies, developed by FAO and partner institutions. These, among others include the Agricultural Information Management Standards (AIMS), AGROVOC, AGRIS Application Profile, AgriDrupal and the several training modules under the Information Management Resource Kit initiative (IMARK), including the following:
  • Digital Libraries, Repositories and Documents
  • Investing in Information for Development
  • Knowledge Sharing for Development
  • Web 2.0 and Social Media for Development