Improving library services in Eastern and Central Africa
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CTA. 1989. Improving library services in Eastern and Central Africa. Spore 22. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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SCECSAL is the Standing Conference of Eastern central and Southern African librarians which is a body committed to the im provement of library services and the profession in Angola, Bots wana, Burundi, Djibouti Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar,...
SCECSAL is the Standing Conference of Eastern central and Southern African librarians which is a body committed to the im provement of library services and the profession in Angola, Bots wana, Burundi, Djibouti Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe (with Namibia having observer status). The primary aims of this organi zation are to promote and sup port the development of library and information services in member countries, to forge maintain and strengthen professional links between librarians in member countries, and to discuss matters of mutual benefit and interest. Biennial meetings, which make recommendations to member associations for implementation, are held to further these aims, and succes sive conferences have centred on the availability, organization, and communication of informa tion - not as an end in itself, but as one means of promoting na tional development within the region. The first was held in Tanzania in 1974 and recognized that few people in the areas covered by SCECSAL were in the habit of either reading for pleasure or for information, and that this situation would change only if books were readily available in libraries or in shops at affordable prices. Subsequent conferences became more orientated towards information and library resources. It was decided at the third conference (Kenya 1978) that the development of information systems should be determined by the conditions in each country but, at the same time, individual nations should see themselves in a continental and international context. This was taken up and expanded in Malawi at the fifth SCECSAL conference: 'Libraries for national development' and the sixth ( in Zimbabwe) 'Information for national development'. From these, there emerged a unity of purpose that transcended sheer national interest and called for regional cooperation in the fields of information, the need for a regional union catalogue, the need for a regional school of librarianship, to fulfil the information requirements for the SADCC Food Security Programme. One of the other recommendations to come out of the sixth conference was that regional directories of experts and their areas of expertise should be identified and compiled by national organizations. SCECSAL VII included among its recommendations that libraries should provide information to rural communities not just by the written word, but also by the use of mass media, films, radio, story-telling, theatre, songs, and any other appropriate means. It is for the 'barefoot librarian' to bring information to the rural communities' libraries. SCECSAL VIII, which was held at the Universitv of Swaziland, Kwaluseni, in July 1988, was devoted to the theme of 'Library and information services for the disadvantaged groups'. SCECSAL's success in the few years of its existence springs from the fact that it has been able to be a creative force in urging governments to recognize the presence and existence of the Library Association in their own countries, and that professionals of the region have come together in a way that would not have been possible but for the existence of SCECSAL. Proposals have been made, which are likely to be implemented soon, that SCECSAL should work closely with COMLA, FID, and IFLA. It should also organize its activities through set sections which would be based on professional groups. For example, they could be based on types of libraries (academic, public), or other aspects of library activity (cataloguing, conservation). Each section would then devise its own programmes, and these would be reviewed bv a coordinating body of the elected offlcers of the section. SCECSAL has so far published the proceedings of every conference, which now form a series and which may be consulted for professional and historical purposes. For more information, contact: The Executive Committee of the Library Committee SCECSAL C/o University of Swaziland Kwaluseni SWAZILAND
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