ROLE OF ICTS IN PROMOTION OF GOOD GOVERNANCE:             CASE FOR LIBRARIES IN KENYA                                  by ...
CONTENTSSummary .............................................................................................................
SUMMARYThis paper seeks to establish the connection between ICT and good governance for libraries inKenya by reviewing lit...
Governance in KenyaGovernance, according to UNDP, is the process through which institutions, businesses and citizengroups ...
focus on redefining the relationship between Government and citizens with the objective ofempowering them through increase...
Recent efforts to liberalize the telecommunication sector and open it to private sector competition arepaying off in Kenya...
access Internet, online resources and skills. In Victoria, VICNET, a part of the State Library thatfunctions as a communit...
LIBRARIES, ICT AND GOOD GOVERNANCEOne of the factors that have favoured application of ICT in libraries is the present tec...
These libraries have computers for staff and users in addition to other ICT devices that are enhanceinformation service pr...
ICT enabled library services for governanceDigital librariesDigital or virtual libraries have advanced as a result of ICT ...
information network linking individual libraries to information for their users for promotion of goodgovernance.Internet a...
CHALLENGESThe Kenya libraries face many challenges, ranging from funding to staffing. Therefore, progresstowards ICT based...
their culture and lifestyle. When installing ICT equipment. Libraries should embrace the fact     that ICTs should increas...
RECOMMENDATIONSDue to the insufficient funding and underdevelopment of the public libraries in Kenya, academic andspecial ...
The need for partnership between libraries and governments in e-government initiatives need not beemphasized. Largely, pri...
Once the government and other bodies engage the library in dissemination information for goodgovernance, it will be crucia...
REFERENCES 1. Abdul Rahim, R., Waldburger, D. and Siegenthaler Muinde, G. (2005), “Access,    Empowerment & Governance: Cr...
18. Li, S. (2005) “The impact of information and communication technology on relation-      based governance systems”, Inf...
9. ht...
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Role of icts in promotion of good governance case for libraries in kenya

  1. 1. ROLE OF ICTS IN PROMOTION OF GOOD GOVERNANCE: CASE FOR LIBRARIES IN KENYA by Beatrice Adera Amollo Paper presented in Nairobi, Kenya at KLA Annual Conference in 2007 0
  2. 2. CONTENTSSummary ................................................................................................................................................. 1Introduction ............................................................................................................................................. 1 Governance in Kenya ......................................................................................................................... 2 ICT development in Kenya ................................................................................................................. 3Libraries and good governance .............................................................................................................. 4 Why libraries for promotion of good governance? .............................................................................. 5Libraries, ICT and good governance ...................................................................................................... 6 ICT enabled library services for governance ...................................................................................... 8Challenges ............................................................................................................................................10Recommendations ................................................................................................................................12Conclusion ............................................................................................................................................14References ............................................................................................................................................15 1
  3. 3. SUMMARYThis paper seeks to establish the connection between ICT and good governance for libraries inKenya by reviewing literature about ICT based libraries worldwide, and taking note of successesmade in the area of governance. It explores the extent and role played by libraries in Kenya,regardless of type and size in the promotion of good governance using ICT. Ways in which ICT canbe implemented and used in libraries for this purpose are addressed.INTRODUCTIONInformation and Communication Technology (ICT) has been defined as a diverse set of technologicaltools and resources used to communicate, create, disseminate, store and manage information. Theconvergence of computers, telephony, and communications has transformed the way people live andwork. It is essential in the development of any society and has become the driving force in the growthof countries worldwide. ICT has facilitated information availability and accessibility thus improvingpublic administration, democratization and citizen empowerment. Interaction between governmentand citizens is improved with an "open" online government. Implementing ICT in governanceprocesses also revitalizes civic institutions, promotes equity and empowers the minorities. This isgood governance.Many institutions have adapted ICT for decision making process that is transparent, all-inclusive andbeneficial to all. The power of ICTs to broadcast within short times and wider distances guaranteesthat more people are involved or reached. The unreached or under serviced are able to accessinformation using these technologies and unlike the traditional means and modalities, a deepergeographic penetration is accomplished. Libraries have taken advantage of these capabilities toprovide information that is current and commensurate with user needs.Some examples of use of ICT for good governance in other countries include an ICT based trialservice that is run by Transparency International called the "The Daily Corruption News" whichreports on corruption from around the world. In the UK, a website enables people tosend a Fax to their local Member of Parliaments detailing them of their grievances through the use ofInternet. This is an example of opening up a direct communication channel between people and theirleaders. And in the Dominican Republic, a website has been posted to publish the entry and exitassets of public officials. In addition it publishes officials bank account numbers, nationalidentification numbers, and home addresses on its site to help citizens detect possible fraudulent actscommitted while in office.Processes and operations have changed since the computer was first introduced in a library.Developed countries are engaging automated libraries in transmitting information to their citizen forthe sake of good governance. ICT adopted in libraries now range from integrated library systems(ILS) and RFID security systems to virtual libraries. These developments have elevated the statusand role of libraries in society – thanks to these technologies. 1
  4. 4. Governance in KenyaGovernance, according to UNDP, is the process through which institutions, businesses and citizengroups articulate their interests, exercise their rights and obligations and mediate their differences. Itis the exercise of political, economic and administrative authority in the management of the affairs ofa country at all levels.Governance is both political and economic. The political aspect deals with how power is exercised,how open the political process is, how decisions are made, and how much of a voice citizens aregiven in decision-making and in the management of public affairs. The economic aspect deals mainlywith how societal resources are managed (public sector management) and the role of governments inthe process of socioeconomic development. It provides the context in which corporate governance ispracticed by setting the laws under which corporations are established and the regulatory frameworkfor the conduct of corporate affairs. Sound corporate governance is important because it results in ahealthy and competitive corporate sector, which is fundamental for sustained and broad-basedeconomic growth. Good governance can be seen as an exercise of economic, political, andadministrative authority to better manage affairs of a country at all levels.Attempts to use ICT for governance in Kenya can be traced as far back as 1999 when the InformationTechnology Standards Association (ITSA) of Kenya launched an Electronic Graft Management pilotproject that was to increase public awareness and encourage public participation in fighting corruptpractices. According to (Backus, 2001), the project intended to use the Internet and e-mail as thechannel for communication by the public for reporting.Kenya is currently experiencing a major ground swell of political change with more people takingresolute steps to demand participatory and democratic systems of governance. The term e-government has emerged from the attempt to combine ICT with the increasing demand for goodgovernance in the political and economical arena. All levels of government i.e. central, national,regional, provincial, departmental, local government institutions and government branches, namelyadministration, civil service, parliament and judiciary are now using ICT to publish information anddocuments directly, rather than, as earlier, rely on the mass media as an intermediary.E-government relates to the relationship between citizens and those in power. ICT is exploited in thisrelationship to help transform the accessibility, quality and cost-effectiveness of public services. Thegovernment has introduced web-based Internet applications and other information technologies,combined with processes that implement these technologies, to enhance the access to and deliveryof Government information and services to the public, other agencies, and other Government entities.Government publications contain information on legal matters, education, agriculture, economics,health and environment which have an immediate impact on the lives of Kenyan citizens.Kenya’s e-government initiative was launched in the year 2004 with the overall goal making theGovernment more result oriented, efficient and citizen centered. The e-Government strategy was to 2
  5. 5. focus on redefining the relationship between Government and citizens with the objective ofempowering them through increased and better access to government services.The government has worked hard to cultivate an image of transparency and inclusiveness for goodgovernance. New web enabled databases and information, electronic filing systems, documentsexchange systems, electronic procurement, electronic declaration and application systems, and othertools have now been introduced in various government departments towards the e-governmentinitiative.For instance, various government ministries like the Ministry of Information, Tourism, Finance andState House, to name a few have put up web sites that contain information about the economy,Kenyan culture, government, the cabinet, rules of business, tenders, drafts bills and much more. Thepopular Constituency Development Fund (CDF), established in Kenya to control imbalances inregional development and targeting constituency-level to help combat poverty has a web site thatallows members of public to track projects in their areas and report any anomalies if noted.The government and stakeholders in the corporate world have endorsed these technologies aschannels for productivity and good governance.ICT development in KenyaThe growth of the ICT sector in Kenya has been significantly influenced by the global trends. Kenyalike other countries of the world is making efforts to modernize its telematics infrastructure to takeadvantage of emerging information technologies such as the Internet, virtual libraries and distanceeducation, just to mention a few. There have been notable increases in the teledensity, number ofcomputers and services; Internet Service Providers (ISPs), number of Internet users andbroadcasting stations.A number of policies have been drafted to support implementation of ICT in all sectors of the economy.For example, policies geared towards support of ICTs in schools to support learning and teaching andfreedom of information have been presented and should be blueprints in actualizing adoption of ICT asa fundamental tool in all development endeavors in the country.The Government aims to work with public and private utility providers (e.g. power, water, railway, etc)to develop the national information infrastructure. The Ministry of information is actively engaging allthe stakeholders in the debate for a comprehensive ICT policy and it is envisaged that Kenya willhave a final draft of the policy by the end of this year.According to the draft ICT policy, measures will be put in place to encourage the provision ofinfrastructure for access to local, national and international information resources. Sufficient internetcapacity for schools, colleges, businesses and provision of a reliable and secure internetinfrastructure country wide is a goal that has been set together with players in the private sector. Anationwide network consisting of fibre optic, satellite and terrestrial radio communication networks willsoon be a reality if the trend s maintained. 3
  6. 6. Recent efforts to liberalize the telecommunication sector and open it to private sector competition arepaying off in Kenya. Digital wireless telecommunication networks have sprung up to the extent thatcellular telephones have become quite common. The Government has liberalized the mobile cellularmarket and Kenya now has two mobile cellular operators, Safaricom Ltd and Celtel International(formerly Kencell Communications Ltd). Another effort pioneered by the Ministry of Information, an online portal for the ICT community in Kenya that provides an electronic meetingplace for individuals and organizations in the ICT industry is spearheading the development of acountry-wide network of community-owned digital villages or e-centres in the rural areas of Kenya.The e-centres are to be a base for the provision of services in each constituency in Kenya.The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), a regulatory arm of the government is supportingthe establishment of 16 School based ICT centers, two in each of the eight provinces in the countryon a pilot basis. The schools were randomly selected from areas with telecommunications networkcoverage. The primary objective of establishing the School-based ICT training centres is to build ICTcapacity in Kenya aimed towards creating an informed society. CCK’s investment into this project isworth Kshs22million. Upon implementation, the project shall among others build ICT capacity in thecountry; enable easy access and flow of information; enhance provision of high quality education;raise productivity and employment through ICTs; and connect schools in rural and high cost areas tothe rest of the world.The country has benefited from major financial backing from donors to develop ICT throughout thecountry. The Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (RCIP), financed by the World Bank,together with the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy) project that was developed bytelecommunications operators with support from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) andother development partners promise to evolve the country’s ICT sector to international levels, levelsthat match those of the developed countries.All these projects will facilitate connectivity in both rural and urban areas and improve e-Governmentservices.LIBRARIES AND GOOD GOVERNANCEThe key role of libraries is to provide continuing access to the knowledge base of human civilizations.(Choy, 2007) states that libraries collectively are the main instrument that preserve and transmit thisbody of accumulated knowledge or “knowledge base”. Libraries maybe called by different names butthis fundamental role is a critical component of any advanced civilization.Internationally, a number of governments have turned to the public library network as a means ofproviding information to the masses. For example, through the Peoples Network in the UK, thegovernment identified public libraries as “our street-corner universities”, and thus the ideal place togive access to these new learning resources. In Australia, a number of public library-based ICTprograms were started for the citizens with the aim of increasing the level and understanding of public 4
  7. 7. access Internet, online resources and skills. In Victoria, VICNET, a part of the State Library thatfunctions as a community Web publisher and Internet service provider (ISP), began a number ofonline targeting people in remote areas.In Kenya, the government appreciates that to increase accountability and empowerment,stakeholders and all sectors of society must participate in the e-government initiative. Therefore thelibrary should be accepted as a strategic player in advancing good governance in the country. Thepotential of ICT in governance will most effectively be harnessed through participation andcooperation of libraries and the rest of the stakeholders from public and private sectors. Only bycombining competencies and resources can the massive roll-out of innovative ICT-based servicesand the scale-up of good governance be achieved.Government’s support for the library is mentioned in the National Information & CommunicationsTechnology (ICT) Policy drafted by the Ministry of Information & Communications which affirmsGovernment’s aspiration to support the development, deployment and maintenance of the publiclibrary and other public service Institutions as a means of encouraging free information flow in allsectors of development. This statement underscores the government’s regard of the public library asa major information provider.The Kenya draft Freedom of Information policy of April 2007 also point outs the role of the KenyaNational Library Service (KNLS) in providing necessary institutional framework to ensure that everyKenyan has access to information held by public authorities. Libraries, regardless of type need torespond to this by proactively participating and providing information for good governance.Why libraries for promotion of good governance?Some of the factors that emphasis the integral roe of libraries in society and justify their position incontributing towards good governance are outlined below. They are important civil society organisations which represent the broad interests of members of societies, libraries and information services and advocate multilateral, transparent and democratic service. They enable informed participation in decision making. Libraries are supported by government and provide vital mechanisms to access government information and support for digital democracy. Libraries and information services often introduce users to ICTs and their use in seeking and using information at all levels of education and training. Libraries and information services offer secure environments in which everyone, regardless of age, gender or race can obtain information to take control of their lives and influence their societies. Librarians are trusted in their communities, know the needs of their users, and are trained professionals committed to public service. 5
  8. 8. LIBRARIES, ICT AND GOOD GOVERNANCEOne of the factors that have favoured application of ICT in libraries is the present technological trendscharacterized by improved performance by computers leading to computing power becomingextremely inexpensive, increasing ubiquity of telecommunications and very low cost data storagecosts. Other favourable factors include decline in the price of personal computers, new forms of widearea networks using even virtual connections and availability of high density distribution media e.g.the CD-ROM. Library services are labour intensive and about two-thirds of library budget usually goesfor labour and therefore since machines can be made more cost-effective in ways that human beingscannot, the use of machines is a viable alternative to increasing labour costs. In contrast, automationof library operations makes easy and less tedious the task of accurate updating of records in files andis likely to improve cost-effective performance by reducing the labour intensive activities and lead toincreased effectiveness through decentralized access to records.An ICT infrastructure in the library encompasses radio, TV, access to World wide net (web sites,online chats/forums, email, blogs), telephone and fax services and access to digitized documents.With ICT, such things as electronic cataloguing, electronic online public access catalogues (OPACs),electronic acquisition and serials control, electronic circulation functions, electronic distribution ofcommercial publications, electronic availability of raw data, multimedia information delivery systems,digitized collections and online textbooks are all now practicable with a higher degree of usersatisfaction.Libraries are considered centres of knowledge. In Kenya, the Kenya National Library services (KNLS)public libraries are probably the only decent learning centres available in the areas where they arelocated. KNLS and the Kenya National Archives and Documentation Centre are of considerablestrategic value to the country’s learning systems. The KNLS libraries are public libraries that arespread out in both urban and rural parts of the country. They comprise of 8 Provincial libraries, 9District libraries and 17 Divisional libraries. These are managed by the Kenya National LibraryServices board which has now turned to the community-based approach to establish libraries inKenya. These libraries are not fully automated. Most of them don’t have computers for users toaccess.There is still room for improvement as the ICT tools in the public libraries are inadequate. Users donot have access to Internet due to access restrictions and non supporting infrastructure in the ruralareas. The public libraries in the rural parts of Kenya still lag behind in the uptake of ICT. Theprovincial libraries have stand alone computers that are used only for basic library administrativeoperations and are not accessible by the public.Apart from public libraries, there are numerous special, research and academic libraries spread indifferent parts of the country. Research institutions and Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) inthe country are also known for their well stocked and ICT equipped libraries. Majority of the special orresearch libraries are found in the major towns and are more technologically advanced than any ofthe other libraries. This is mainly due to funding and support from their parent bodies and donors. 6
  9. 9. These libraries have computers for staff and users in addition to other ICT devices that are enhanceinformation service provision.There are also several other private libraries like the British Council Library. It should also be notedthat virtually all of the academic institutions beginning with the secondary schools up to the highereducation institutions have libraries (academic).While their traditional roles for providing books and other materials and as information centers stillserve as an important role within their communities, advancements in technology have also allowedlibraries to become resources for those who need access to or help with the Internet as well. Thus,librarians have taken up new service roles within the electronic and networked environment that theyhad previously not been expected to fulfill. Increasingly, libraries, particularly public libraries in otherparts of the world are helping their users access and use information provided by governmentdepartments. As the various government ministries continue to digitize government forms andservices, public libraries—as centers for public access in their communities—are often the onlyorganizations that can help citizens interact with government agencies and access E-governmentresources.All libraries in Kenya must give priority to ICT if they are to continue in the business of providinginformation to the public and remain as the main point of access for researchers, students and therest of the public. ICT will improve delivery of local government services, improves access toinformation that people need in order to function as informed citizens, broaden their participation ingovernance, and stimulate economic and community development.Libraries in Kenya have started to computerize some, or all, of their basic library functions, such ascataloguing, acquisitions, serials control, union lists of serials, circulation, indexing, lists of new booksetc. Since the late 1980s integrated library systems (ILS) have been used for these functions. Somelibraries especially special and research libraries mentioned earlier have added further functions totheir ILS, such as reserve booking, databases of community resources, home-bound services, mediabooking, and access to journal citation indexes and so on.Open source library systems provide a favorable option for libraries that are lowly funded. There areIntegrated Library Systems, digitization, metasearch and course management software that havebeen installed in libraries as a cheaper and even more effective alternative. Examples includeLibraryFind, KOHA, PHPMylibrary, Moodle, Greenstone and Evergreen. 7
  10. 10. ICT enabled library services for governanceDigital librariesDigital or virtual libraries have advanced as a result of ICT in the libraries. A library is no longerdefined by its physical confines, but by its collection. A digital library is a managed collection ofinformation, with associated services, where the information is stored in digital formats and accessibleover a network. A key part of this definition is that the information is managed.The libraries of the twenty-first century are challenged to be digitized through the application of ICTfacilities to their libraries. This is aimed at ensuring quick and easy access of the large numbers oflibrary users to relevant accurate and current information from both remote and immediate databasesto facilitate learning, teaching and research.Librarians have traditionally selected and organized resources with great care. In building digitallibraries, librarians have the opportunity to provide users with direction and to rescue them frominformation overload. Copies of digitized and print documents from the government departments aresent to libraries where they are processed commensurate with library standards before disseminatingto users using ICT. With digital technology in libraries, users can access information from anywhere.The digital library permits users to access library and networked resources and services anytime andanywhere so long as Internet connection and computing equipment are available. This technologycan also be adapted for rendering of service aimed at good governance by libraries in Kenya .Information networks and consortiaNo single library can afford to acquire all the resources and in all the formats available. Networkingaffords participants the opportunity to acquire all that their funds could enable them to acquire and stillhave access to what their users need.ICT has made networking regardless of distance and space possible. With an enabling infrastructure,a library is able to provide a wide range of information service to its users, drawing from both internaland external ‘collections.In order to facilitate more efficient information services for library users, some libraries in Kenya haveimplemented relevant networks to enable links to the Internet so that users can search digitaldatabases of books, theses, journal articles and so on. In addition anyone from around the world withInternet access can use these resources, given the appropriate authentication.In Kenya, an example of such a consortium is the Kenya Libraries and Information ScienceConsortium (KLISC) which partners with International Network for the Availability of ScientificPublications (INASP), a networking organization that facilitates access to over 20,000 journals tomembers at subsidized rates. Other research and special libraries have also formed consortia withother libraries worldwide. A consortium of libraries countrywide can ensure that there is electronic 8
  11. 11. information network linking individual libraries to information for their users for promotion of goodgovernance.Internet accessWith the tremendous growth of the internet, people now have access to an overwhelming range ofinformation sources available at the click of a mouse.Access to the Internet has brought many benefits to the users of most libraries in Kenya. Librariescan harness the internet abilities to provide information from various government departments. Thelibrarian’s role would be to educate the users on how to access and even translate some of thisinformation into language that is understood by the target users.E-mail, chat forums and other Internet services can be used to lobby representatives, public officialsand commercial enterprises; to publish moral appeals; to protest, and to start referenda or citizenslaw-making.Mobile telephonyThe growing number of mobile phones is transforming Kenya. While there is evidently increasedexcitement about the emergent technology, the ease and convenience of communicating hasimproved public discourse and given impetus to development initiatives.Libraries should be able to communicate with their users using mobile phones. This service, renderedin conjunction with the telecommunication companies can be a means of linking users to their politicalleaders or business counterparts at subsidized rates. Vital information from the MPs can betransmitted by the library to the people via the appropriate channels where direct communication isunlawful. 9
  12. 12. CHALLENGESThe Kenya libraries face many challenges, ranging from funding to staffing. Therefore, progresstowards ICT based services in libraries and distance education has been slow for a couple ofreasons:1. The high cost of information and communication infrastructure. Libraries in the rural areas are disadvantaged because of the poor infrastructure. A sizeable part of the remote areas in Kenya still lack electricity and structured telecommunication facilities. Setting up suitable infrastructure is costly and takes a long time. The government is making great effort to ensuring connectivity in all parts of the country before 2010.2. The lack of technical expertise and low staff retention There is still need for more library staff to be trained in use of ICT for information service delivery in the modern library. Majority of libraries have just a few library staff who are ICT literate hence there is likely to shortage of staff to train users on how to access information using ICT. Poor retention of ICT library staff is another impeding issue. Many libraries have not been able to retain this caliber of staff for various reasons.3. Poor computer literacy Even if physical access could be provided, as is being done already in many parts of the country through telecenters, kiosks, and other media, many Kenyans cannot use ICT tools, an outcome of poor literacy, both computer-based or otherwise. To make matters worse, there are massive inequities in society and the educated and the affluent, mainly men, have significantly higher access to the Internet. ICTs are new technologies. They require some knowledge and expertise to use. Literacy rates are still low with too many people unable to read or write. Even when one can read, ICTs require training to be able to use them effectively.4. Poverty Despite other novel ways of providing access through telecenters and sharing of access, poverty conspires to keep the financially poor away from benefiting from ICT powered information services. Even though national absolute poverty declined from 52.3% in 1997 to 45.9% in 2005/06, 1 in 5 Kenyans still have consumption levels that are inadequate to meet basic food needs. This is according to a DFID report of April, 2007. Kenyans falling within the poverty bracket will hardly visit or seek ICT enabled library service if their basic needs are unfulfilled.5. ICT applications may become distractions ICT applications may become distractions rather than becoming the means to attaining good governance. People may develop a fear of or dread ICT tools if they are not integrated with 10
  13. 13. their culture and lifestyle. When installing ICT equipment. Libraries should embrace the fact that ICTs should increase the degree of interest and involvement of the people to be served.6. Lack of effective advocacy. Participation of libraries in Kenya’s e-government initiative may be hampered by poor representation or advocacy. In (Mutula, 2005)’s article, Librarians are cited as having inadequate skills for marshalling convincing financial and advocacy arguments for justifying investment in ICTs for information delivery in libraries can be perceived as one of the major causes for poor technological investment in public and academic libraries in Kenya. Do librarians lack effective advocacy skills to lobby and justify to government and other potential financiers, the necessity of funding for procurement of relevant ICTs and active participation in issues of governance?7. Lack of translated materials Most ICT services are presented in English. This is a deterring factor for majority of the target users, particularly people residing in the rural and remote areas, who are not conversant with the language. Information produced by government bodies or for good governance is in English. English is used in all the government web sites, in their graphics and instructions. Even TV and radio programes that would be transmitted by libraries are in English. It is ineffective to present useful information in formats that users cannot comprehend.8. Lack of automation policies Libraries in Kenya do not have automation policies. There are neither policies nor strategic plans and actions for the introduction and use of ICT. This makes introduction of ICT for dissemination of information for good governance difficult as there is no framework to initiate a systematic program that would maximize positive impact. 11
  14. 14. RECOMMENDATIONSDue to the insufficient funding and underdevelopment of the public libraries in Kenya, academic andspecial libraries in those areas that do not have public libraries should participate and contribute inthe extending e-governance to both their target clientele and the surrounding communities.It is not only the role of the public library to avail information or good governance, special andacademic libraries need to collect, store, process and disseminate these information to their targetusers as well. Academic libraries in colleges, primary and secondary schools should be stocked withprint and online information from government for access by their students and teachers.School libraries should stock information to support civic education in the schools as a way ofpromoting good governance. Public and academic libraries, alongside Civil Society Organizations,can help in civic education programmes and provide the necessary information aimed at developingan informed electorate. Public libraries, with their open access and usually being centrally located,can help with voter registration and even serve as polling stations in some areas. The libraries,through Internet facilities, can reach out to politically disaffected or unmotivated citizens and publicizeparty positions, solicit feedback, new ideas and new members.In Kenya, the KNLS public libraries should be seen as a readily available facility with the essentialmanpower and infrastructure to support good governance. Government initiatives for e-governanceshould take advantage of this fact and actively involve the libraries in creating information bases forthe enlightenment of citizens in the villages, cities, schools and market places. Public libraries need tobe well equipped and staffed to ensure ICT generated information is disseminated to the users whoare well oriented in the use of these technologies.The public library should particularly be seen as a political institution, providing citizens with thenecessary information to fulfill their civic duties in helping to sustain the democratic gains of thecountry. An informed citizenry is best poised to ensure good governance. In this regard, there is theneed to educate and retrain public librarians as civic information specialists who are able to developand actively disseminate critical issues like human rights, electoral processes, citizen participation inpolicy-making and government accountability.The public libraries in Kenya should be supported by government in order to serve as the first refugeand last resort for E-government support, public computing, and Internet access. There is no need to‘reinvent the wheel’ by creating new institutions: the existing worldwide network of libraries andinformation services provide the essential foundations for capacity building. Information fromgovernment or public departments can be published via the existing public, special and academiclibraries with the KNLS acting as focal point in the network.It is important that information materials aimed for the masses be translated in accordance with thepeople’s abilities. Librarians who are trained in publishing and translation should be involved in the e-government initiatives as translators as well as disseminators. 12
  15. 15. The need for partnership between libraries and governments in e-government initiatives need not beemphasized. Largely, priorities espoused in e-governance such as accessibility, affordability,appropriate citizen content and appropriate conduits are similar to what libraries need to achieveusing various ICTs. This commonality should make governments and libraries partners in the e-government partnership in the information age. Libraries will, however, need to be proactive toinfluence their partnership with governments if they have to beat other stakeholders in the ball game.(Mutula, 2005) suggests that librarians must make proposals, create awareness, develop humanresources and enjoy the partnerships in the e-government flight in cyberspace. Such partnershipscould provide a perfect recipe and a solid base upon which an information society could be built inKenya. Strategies by which libraries can be more knowledgeable of E-government services andresources can be developed through these partnerships.Information literacy and training roles of libraries could be critical to the effectiveness of the e-government-library partnership. Libraries have well-trained information professionals and increasinglyICT-literate staff who can work with government to create content and provide information services tothe population. The ability of libraries to manage online information in modern library servicesdemonstrates the skills and knowledge of the technical resources needed to organize onlinegovernment information in order to evolve into full e-government information resources.On the other hand, the government can provide infrastructure, and put in place favorable environmentfor the private sector to participate in this relationship, so that it can provide state-of-the arttechnology. Library staff can be further trained to have a range of E-government skills andknowledge.The development of networks between public libraries and educational institutions and Organizationsis possible with ICTs. Libraries should be encouraged to implement ICT enabled services that canthen be shared electronically by all the stakeholders and their users. Electronic networks betweenpublic libraries and research libraries, school libraries and special libraries in Kenya will improveaccess to information to a wider user group.Partnerships should also be established with the media by libraries to ensure consistent flow ofinformation. Libraries should be consulted when composing information for the masses to establishuser preferences and suitable formats for effective communication. This partnership should cutacross all forms of media - from radio to television to print. Partnering with the media will be central tothe libraries and other partners in making an impact in developing planning and implementationeffective governance tools.E-governance has potential for the libraries in Kenya as a faster means for libraries to shareresources and enhance outreach services. E-governance will provide libraries with opportunities toaccess large amounts of government information that would be difficult to access in a non-electronicenvironment. It is possible that with the number of governments information increasing online, e-government provides a new way of enhancing bibliographic control of government information andnetworking among disparate libraries. 13
  16. 16. Once the government and other bodies engage the library in dissemination information for goodgovernance, it will be crucial that the libraries ability to assist community members in access to anduse of E-government services be publicized.CONCLUSIONThere is need for the government to recognize the various E-government roles, services, andactivities that can be provided by libraries using ICT. The government should therefore engagelibraries in promotion of good governance. 14
  17. 17. REFERENCES 1. Abdul Rahim, R., Waldburger, D. and Siegenthaler Muinde, G. (2005), “Access, Empowerment & Governance: Creating a World of Equal Opportunities with ICT”, Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 2. Adesida, O, (2001) ‘Governance in Africa: The Role for Information and Communication Technologies”, Economic Research Papers No 65, Abidjan, Côte dIvoire 3. Arms, W. (2000), Digital Libraries, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. 4. Backus, M., (2001) “E-Governance and Developing Countries, Introduction and examples.” Research Report, No. 3. 5. Bertot, J.C, Jaeger, P.T., Langa, L.A. and McClure, C.R. (2006) “Public access computing and Internet access in public libraries: The role of public libraries in e– government and emergency situations” First Monday, Vol 11, No. 9 6. Choy, F.C, “Libraries and librarians – what next?”, Library Management, Volume 28 Number 3 2007 pp. 112-124 7. Ciborra, C., Navarra, D.D.,(2005), “Good governance, development theory, and aid policy: Risks and challenges of e-government in Jordan”, Information Technology for Development, Vol. 11. No: 2, pp. 141-159, 8. Eve, J and Brophy, P. (2001) “The Value and Impact of IT Access in Public Libraries: Final Report”, Library and Information Commission Research Report 102, Manchester, UK 9. Gakunu, P. [2004], “e- Government Strategy for Kenya.,” Paper presented at the WSIS Action Plan workshop held 25th-26th 2004 in Nairobi, Kenya 10. Giordano, T., (2002) “Library co-operation on ICT in Italy: an overview”, Program: electronic library and information systems; Volume: 36 Issue: 3. 11. Häggström, B.M, (2004), “The Role of Libraries in Lifelong Learning.” Final report of the IFLA project under the Section for Public Libraries 12. Hanson, A and Lubotsky, B.L. (2003) “Building a Virtual Library”, University of South Florida, USA, Information Science Publishing 13. Xie, H.I.,(2006) “Evaluation of digital libraries: Criteria and problems from users perspectives”, Library & Information Science Research 28 433–452 14. Johansson, V., (2004) “Public libraries as democratic intermediaries: some examples from Sweden”, New Library World; Vol. 105, No. 1/2. 15. Kavulya, J.M. (2004), ‘‘University libraries in Kenya: a study of their practices and performance’’, PhD thesis, Humboldt-University, Berlin. 16. Kavulya, J.M. (2007) “Training of library and information science (LIS) professionals in Kenya A needs assessment”, Library Review, Vol. 56, No. 3 pp. 208-223 17. Lal, B, Gaumer, G.L and Manhica, S (1999),Information and Communication Technologies for Improved Governance in Africa, United Nations, Economic Commission for Africa 15
  18. 18. 18. Li, S. (2005) “The impact of information and communication technology on relation- based governance systems”, Information Technology for Development, Vol 11, No. 2, pp. 105-122. 19. Mutula, S.M. (2001) “The IT environment in Kenya: implications for libraries in public universities”, Library Hi Tech; Vol. 19, No. 2. 20. Mutula, S.M., (2005), “Bridging the digital divide through e-governance: A proposal for Africas libraries and information centres”, The Electronic Library, Vol. 23, No. 5 pp. 591-602 21. Omekwu, C.O. (2006), “Managing information and technology: critical roles for librarians in developing countries”, The Electronic Library, Vol. 24 No. 66 pp. 847-863 22. Qureshi, S., (2006) “Why is the information society important to us?” Information Technology for Development, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 1-5, 2006 23. Sharifabadi, S.R., (2006), “How digital libraries can support e-learning”, The Electronic Library, Vol. 24 No.3, pp. 389-401 24. Shibanda, G.G. (2006), “Management of government information in Kenya”, Paper presented at the International Seminar on the Strategic Management and Democratic Use of Government Information in Africa: WSIS Follow-up Conference on Access to Information and Knowledge for Development United Nations Conference Centre, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 27 – 30, 2006 nd 25. Taylor, A.G, (2004) “The Organization of information”, 2 ed., Libraries Unlimited, London 26. Tedd, L.A., “World Library Summit and visits to libraries in Singapore: a report”, Program: electronic library and information systems; Vol. 36, No. 4, 2002NOTES 1. Draft Freedom of Information Policy by Ministry of Information & Communications April 2007, 2. Flynn, E, “The role of e-Government and e-Governance in the developed and developing world.”, An Annotated Bibliography, 3. The Kenya Freedom of Information Bill 2007, Ministry of Information & Communications, Kenya, 4. Kenya: Factsheet April 2007, United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), 739BDA?OpenDocument 5. National Information & Communications Technology (ICT) Policy, By Ministry of Information & Communications January 2006, 6. Promoting the global information commons: A commentary on the library and information implications of the WSIS Declaration of Principles, 7. 8. 16
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