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Ugcla conf report

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Uganda Community Libraries Association held its seventh annual conference at Kawempe Youth Centre on 26-28 July 2017

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Ugcla conf report

  1. 1. 1 Uganda Community Libraries Association Annual Conference 26-28 July 2017 The Uganda Community Libraries Association held its seventh annual conference at Kawempe Youth Centre on 26-28 July 2017. It was a special occasion because it was the tenth anniversary of the Association’s founding, which we celebrated by holding a networking forum on the Saturday evening. We invited many guests from outside UgCLA, including our partner organizations in Uganda, publishers, and representatives of government. There was dancing by Mulia Foundation Children to entertain us, and a splendid cake, cut with fanfare by the Association’s two co-founders, Kayaga Mulindwa and Kate Parry. Besides fun and games, the conference activities included a great deal of hard work. Participants arrived at midday on the Friday, had lunch, registered, and received forms to fill in to help UgCLA keep up to date profiles of their libraries. They also received a questionnaire to inform two proposals that we are planning to develop on the African Storybook project (see www.storybook.org) and listened to a short talk describing those proposals. Besides that, a large number of books donated by Book Aid International were available for participants to look at, from which they could prepare boxes to take home to their libraries in return for a fee, to cover clearing and transport, of 30,000 shillings per box. In addition, every represented library was asked to prepare a poster displaying what the library had achieved in the past year. These posters were displayed around the conference area so that participants could look at them in any spare moments. The conference was formally opened at the end of the evening by the Rev. Bobson Musamali, a member of Kawempe Youth Centre’s Board of Directors. The conference theme was “New technologies: their implications for libraries,” and the first session on the Saturday was a plenary talk on the theme by Lois Mutibwa, of the East African School of Library and Information Science. It was a beautiful, well prepared, presentation, with plenty of opportunity for the audience to ask questions and contribute information. The session was followed by another on technology, this being a practical one in which the participants, working on laptops or on smartphones, learned how to set up gmail accounts and Google groups and to write blogs. The session was led by Fred Sebuma, Arthur Ssebale, and Eunice Nsaire, representatives of UgCLA’s new member and partner, the ANABEL Resource Centre. After lunch on the Saturday, the participants learnt about the African Storybook, which, as a website with an associated app, is a product of the new technologies that is particularly important for African community libraries. Dr. Cornelius Gulere, who has been helping people write stories for the website and who is now the project’s coordinator in Uganda, told participants about the aims of the project, its significance in relation to government policies, and how to access the stories through the website or the app. Then everyone was invited to work directly with the stories in their own languages, whether by reading, translating, or adapting them, or by initiating new ones. This session occasioned particular excitement and made everyone eager to participate in one or other of the proposed projects. The Sunday morning provided an opportunity for those libraries that have computers and access to the internet to speak of their experiences with technology. These libraries include Kawempe Youth Centre and the Nambi Sseppuuya Resource Centre, both of
  2. 2. 2 which emphasized the importance of using technological resources to develop the library’s profile and publicize its work. Mr Justin Kiyimba, in telling the story of how the Nambi Sseppuuya Resource Centre obtained its computers, also urged UgCLA’s members to be persistent in advocating for their libraries. Time was then made available for the participants, meeting in language groups, to develop their ideas as to what they might do with the African Storybook. They presented these ideas briefly to the group as a whole and handed in their completed questionnaires. One particularly valuable presentation was by a representative of the Busolwe Public Library, who explained how the library, working with the Lunyole Language Association, had contributed to the writing of stories in Lunyole. The session as a whole brought out the complexity of language problems in Africa: some libraries work on a regular basis with two or more African languages, which may be completely unrelated; others use a language in which there are no stories yet published in the Storybook; the languages of some do not even have a standard orthography. There is a great deal of work to be done on these issues, and UgCLA, with its wide diversity of members, is in a good position to contribute to the effort. The last two hours of the conference were devoted to UgCLA’s Annual General Meeting. Brief oral reports were presented, and then members voted for new members of the Board of Trustees. The following were elected, all of them unopposed: Chairman Justin Kiyimba, Nambi Sseppuuya Memorial Resource Centre Deputy Chair Enoch Magale, Campaign For Youth Driven Development Initiatives (CFYDDI) Treasurer Esther Kyazike, Kawempe Youth Centre Secretary Daniel Ahimbisibwe, Kitengesa Community Library Member Ivan Kaibu, Busolwe Public Library Member Jane Kawalya, East African School of Library and Information Science Member Olivia Mutabirwe, Nyarushanje Community Library Kate Parry was asked to continue serving on the Board in an advisory capacity. Altogether, 35 member libraries were represented at the conference, and well over 50 people attended; they included individual members of UgCLA, extra library representatives, and volunteers who are working at Ibanda and Kitengesa Community Libraries. A number of our regular member libraries were not able to send representatives, but they were compensated for by a number of new members or by the return of old members who had dropped away. After ten years, UgCLA has grown impressively and become quite an established institution. There is good hope of its continuing to grow, especially under its new leadership.

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