I react to a reader’s comment to the question, ‘What would you regard as useless university courses?’ in the Letters page of the Daily Monitor of March 4. With reference to a reader’s claim that “Courses like Librarianship have no impact in the community because they lock the graduate into one career rather than giving them options,” I would like to address this statement not as a matter of ignorance, but rather term it as lack of awareness of what the Librarian profession is all about.
When people talk about Librarianship and Librarians, all they think about is keeping books, stamping them and lending them out to our library patrons. Librarians play an invaluable role to the communities they serve. For example, in college and universities; librarians help students, lecturers and researchers to locate and access books and other electronic resources needed for assignments and research projects. The profession has grown and the opportunities have greatly increased.
There have been discussions around the world about changing trends and opportunities concerning Library science. With the advent of technology, we can all agree that many professions whether in banking, media and communications, law and medicine, there has been a shift and change in career opportunities and general operations and libraries were not left behind.
The library users’ needs and expectations changed; the shift in scholarly publications and the rise of Open Access has prompted the majority of academic libraries to dust the analogue way of operating and embrace the changing landscape with technology at the driver’s seat.
Presently, a number of academic libraries in Uganda subscribe to electronic resources like e-books, e-journals and on line databases with the help of CUUL (Consortium of Uganda University Libraries). The vision of CUUL is to inspire and enable Uganda’s libraries to provide world class access to vital research information. CUUL, therefore, facilitates activities like licensing negotiations, joint payments and access to e-resources.
Library and Information Science as a programme taught in some universities in Uganda has incorporated courses such as Web-based Resources, Database Management and Management Information Systems in the curriculum. This enables students to aspire to become electronic resources managers, systems librarians and digital curators and hence explore the various opportunities that the profession offers. The general attitude towards Librarianship in this country is quite a negative one. First, we are not a good reading society. As such, there is no way we would appreciate Librarians and related opportunities in Information Science such as the publishing industry, records and archives management, etc.
In as much as our public libraries, school libraries or community libraries are struggling to remain relevant to their communities; the National Library of Uganda (NLU), has played a great role in providing outreach services. In partnership with Book Aid International, the NLU carried out a project known as inspiring readers, with the aim of providing access to books through setting up book box libraries to enhance the reading skills of children. NLU also organises training for librarians of public and community libraries. Through the training, librarians obtain ICT as well as management of community-led libraries. Library and Information Science profession still has a long way to go. However, they have come a long way from the card library catalogue to the OPAC (On line Public Access Catalogue).
Librarian- UCU (Kampala Campus)