Celebrations to mark 60 years of service for the East African School of Library and Information Science (EASLIS) were officially opened on 9th November 2023 with a call on Information scientists to change their mind set and embrace the digital technology in order to contribute to the national transformational agenda and improve livelihoods.
The school celebrated its 60 Years of teaching, research and innovation in the field of Library, Records, Archival and Information Sciences from Wednesday 8th– Friday 10th November, 2023. As part of the celebrations, EASLIS organized primary and secondary schools quizzes and tertiary institutions talk show on 8 November 2023. The quiz for Primary schools focused on importance of school libraries and solicited proposals on how they can be improve.
The tertiary talk shows attracted university students from Mbarara, Makerere, Kabale, Kyambogo and other universities who discussed the role of information scientists , challenges and how they can be addressed. Students were also asked what role information scientists can play to guide government in the proper management of projects such as oil and gas, national identity card replacement, registration of digital car number plates, managing the upcoming elections 2026. Students made a number of proposals for government to address challenges affecting library and information scientists.
- Introduction of electronic documents management software to move away from paperwork.
- Supporting national, district and libraries in the new cities.
- Come up with a disaster preparation plan for records and archives in institutions
- Provision of information materials
- Revamping, standardizing national libraries and provision of better housing and allocation of sufficient resources
- Lobby support from organizations
- Encourage partnerships to help in capacity building
- Support Community libraries to promote intellectualism
- Revise National library act and other policies to match the current trends
- Offer scholarship and bursaries to information scientists
- Equate salaries of information scientist with other professions
- Register information scientists and offer certificates to operate
- Remove taxes on information materials
- Support the consortium of libraries etc
The celebrations were crowned by a Luncheon on Friday 10th November, 2023.
The Official Opening
While officially opening the three day celebrations on 9th November 2023, the Minister for Public Service Hon. Muruli Mukasa acknowledged that world over; records facilitate the operations of Government and other organizations, preserve the documented heritage of a nation and support accountability, transparency and good governance.
Due to their critical importance across the Service, the minister pledged government commitment to address the challenges in managing Library and Information Centers in the country including professionalization and infrastructural development.
“Libraries and Information centres remain critical pillars for national transformation and development. They are not just buildings filled with books; they are dynamic institutions that empower our citizens with knowledge, encourage innovation, and foster a sense of community”, Hon. Muruli stated.
The minister emphasized the critical role of libraries and information centres as silent engines that power a nation’s progress, and significantly contribute to the continued development of the knowledge base of people, communities, society, education sector, the overall economy and national development.
Besides being repositories of knowledge and information, the minister said libraries and information centres serve as the intellectual hubs where people of all ages and backgrounds can access a wealth of resources, from books to digital media, in pursuit of knowledge and self-improvement.
Libraries and information centres according to the minister, are not merely book depositories; they are dynamic, evolving institutions that need to be properly management in all aspects in order to play their critical role in transforming societies and nations since on a daily there are changing and competing knowledge needs across all societies.
In that regard , Hon. Muruli emphasized that, libraries and information centres are the bedrock in the Education sector across all nations as they continue to provide students with essential learning resources, making education accessible to all, regardless of socio-economic status.
From textbooks to research materials, Hon Muruli stressed that libraries and information centres empower future leaders with the tools they need to inform the countries policy and development agendas.
“Similarly, a nation’s progress relies heavily on research and innovation and therefore, libraries and information centres are invaluable in supporting this endeavour by offering access to academic journals, databases, and research materials, which fuel innovation, scientific discovery, and technological advancement.
It is also important to note that libraries and information centres are champions of literacy, fostering a reading culture and encouraging lifelong learning. By offering reading programs and resources for people of all ages, libraries and information centres contribute to a more knowledgeable and informed citizenry. Back in the day, there were public Libraries that provide the required reading environment and materials across the country”. He explained.
On the side of cultural preservation, the minister highlighted that every countries cultural heritage is preserved within the walls of libraries and information centres. They house historical documents, records, and rare manuscripts, ensuring that the history and traditions of our nation are not forgotten. The materials therein continue to be reference points for cultural preservation.
Concerning community awareness, the minister explained that libraries and information centres serve as community resource centres, promoting social cohesion and civic engagement. They offer a space for community events, discussions, and activities that strengthen the bonds among our citizens.
In regard to the increasing digital transformation, Hon. Muruli asserted that libraries and information centres have been instrumental in fostering digital inclusion by bridging the digital by way of providing internet access and computer facilities to the less privileged, enabling all citizens to access online information and services, fostering a more inclusive society.
The minister further highlighted the importance of libraries and information centres, in supporting economic growth and development. They continue to be avenues for facilitating entrepreneurship and small business development as they equip prospective entrepreneurs with knowledge and skills that can help them establish and grow their businesses.
In regard to health and wellness, Hon Muruli said libraries and information centres provide critical health information, promoting public health and wellness. They act as information resource centres on healthcare, disease prevention, and healthy living, contributing to the overall well-being of citizens.
The minister added that in the wake of climate change and its impact on the Globe, environmental libraries and information centres can contribute to environmental sustainability by providing information on environment and ecological issues, conservation, and sustainable practices, promoting a more environmentally responsible society.
“The role of libraries and information centres on the media landscape is arguably immense as they provide avenues for equipping citizens with the skills to evaluate, use, and share information responsibly, a vital skill in our edge of information overload especially in the Digital spaces”. He emphasized.
Despite the pivotal role in promoting literacy, education, and community development, the minister observed that libraries and information centres worldwide are facing a crisis that threatens their very existence, including but not limited to;-.underfunding, outdated resources, limited access to technology, inadequate staffing, declining usage, mind-set change; as majority of the officers in the entities sampled are still using manual processes and are slow to adopt digital systems.
Other challenges according to the minister include the dysfunctional records management system that continue to be an impediment to better library and information management in most entities as the manual systems require to be streamlined prior to digitization, lack of complementary equipment like computers and scanners to drive the digitization of the records management processes, the continued digital skills gaps due to general lack of knowledge and skills in the use and adoption of ICTs by the records staff and users among others.
The minister explained that the current status quo concerning records and information management across the service, should now be related to the historical importance of the East African School of Library and Information Science, which has been a beacon of knowledge, a catalyst for progress, and a cradle of talent.
“The East African School of Library and Information Science nurtured generations of professionals, for whom we are all-proud of and have immensely played pivotal roles in preserving and disseminating knowledge. It has also greatly contributed to the growth and development of the information management regime at this University, the country, and the greater region of East Africa and Africa as a whole.
60 years of service before and during the technological edge is not just a celebration but also a big milestone for the school. This commemoration should therefore enable us reflect on school’s unwavering commitment to the values of education, research, and community service. It has fostered an environment where innovation thrives, where intellectual curiosity is encouraged, and where a sense of unity and purpose prevails”, the minister said.
As the school commemorates 60 years, the minister challenged participants to reflect on where they have come from, the achievements registered, the challenges faced together, shared and overcome in steering the agenda for Library and Information Science in Uganda.
This day according to Ho. Muruli should be used to look into the future of library and information management as a whole considering the changing landscape because of the changing current digital edge influenced by technology.
“The East African School of Library and Information Science is not just a repository of knowledge; it is a bridge to the future and the future is now. In focusing the future of Library and Information Science, we should embrace new ways of doing things.
The advancements in information science and technology present new challenges and opportunities, and I believe management of the school is well prepared to lead the way and the School properly equipped to provide better services to the students and the clients that visits the school in search for new knowledge”, he implored.
No standard documents and records management system
The minister observed that no attempts have previously been taken to implement a standard documents and records management system across all Government institutions. Currently, the minister said the documents and records management functions are largely manual in most Government Institutions. The automation of documents and records management initiatives contribute to the Public Sector Transformation Programme under objective 5 of the third National Development Plan (NDP III).
“The records management function is the fulcrum of the Public Sector Transformation and therefore this requires a Public Service that is efficient, effective, transparent and responsive to the needs of the people driven by efficient records management”
The Policy Paper on the Transformation of the Public Service as stated by the minister identifies structures, processes and systems as one of the pillars of service delivery. Therefore, the EDRMS Project intends to address service delivery bottlenecks associated with Records and Information Management systems in the Public Service considering its central role in service delivery.
It is envisaged that the digitization of records in MDAs and LGs will result in more flexible and rapid access to information for quick decision making and the eventual improved services to the citizens. It will also save on storage costs, space, equipment and time taken to retrieve records in MDAs and LGs. This will promote transparency, good governance and accountability.
The EDRMS system the minister reported has since been piloted, deployed and is working well in two Ministries: The Ministry Public Service, since November 2021; the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance since January 2022. In the second phase of the deployment process, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (MoTIC) and Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA) were on boarded in January 2023. Currently, the EDRMS is running in four (04) entities.
Government pledge support to professionalization of the library carder and infrastructure
Despite the many challenges, the minister said, Libraries and Information Centers are not a luxury; they are a fundamental necessity for education, research, and community development .
The minister pledged government readiness and commitment to address the challenges in managing Library and Information Centres in the country due to their critical importance across the Service.
“I therefore wish to request the Library fraternity to remain steadfast in the changing information access landscape in order to keep a braced with the new developments and counter the current challenges as herein enumerated.
I therefore implore you all to remain professionals in you line of due and serve the people that require your services diligently. Professionalism is one of the virtues for the 21st managers that will facilitate rapid economic transformation of our country.”
Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Public Service he said, continues to be supportive in walking the talk of professionalizing the library cadre across the service, including librarianship. This has led to the development of standardized curricula, accreditation processes, and recognition of the importance of well-trained library and information professionals.
Government according to the minister is also committed to ensuring that the required infrastructure is in place to support Library and Information Management noting that the expansion of the National back born fiber has greatly impacted on the information landscape in the country and facilitated Digital Literacy, in the country and access to information. This aligns with the evolving field of Library and Information Science, which increasingly involves managing digital resources and technology.
“Government will therefore make every effort and other actors to support continued Community Engagement by providing the much-needed information services to citizens in various regions of Uganda in shaping the landscape of Library and Information Science in the country.
Moving forward, it is essential that we continue to support and strengthen Library and Information Science training to ensure that our Libraries, Information Centres, and information services remain vibrant, relevant, and accessible to all Ugandans.”, he pledged
In pursuit of the aforementioned role, the Ministry of Public Service he said, is championing the strengthening of the Records and Information Management function by fully automating the records management processes to promote proper management and utilisation of records at all levels by every stakeholder across Ministries, Departments, Agencies and Local Governments (MDAs/LGs) including Makerere University that hosts the East African School of Library and Information Science (EASLIS).
Over the years, the Ministry of Public Service has engaged the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology and National Guidance to provide an integrated Electronic Document and Records Management System (EDRMS) solution.
EDRMS (eDocs+) has been developed with requisite modules to facilitate records/document creation, usage, search and retrieval, storage, processing and maintenance, transfer and disposal throughout the active, semi active and inactive records lifecycle in the new digital agenda.
Hon Mukasa reported that through digitization of the end-to-end business processes relating to Records and Information Management, the system enables MDAs and LGs to proactively and effectively execute their respective core mandates and functions through timely and informed decision-making.
The Minister noted that the advent of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has fundamentally changed records management landscape world over. As a result, he said, Electronic records came onto the scene when Uganda embraced ICT as part of its economic development strategy in the mid-1990s. The significant reforms to embrace ICTs include the establishment of a fully-fledged Ministry of Information and Communication Technology in 2006, which led the development of the National ICT Policy, e-Government Master Plan, and the Cyber Laws.
Other developments highlighted include the establishment of the National Information Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA-U) as an Information Technology regulator. Overtime, many Government institutions have taken on computerization projects. Examples include; i) the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) by the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED); ii) the Local Governments Information Communication System (LoGICS) by the Ministry of Local Government; iii) the Electronic Tax System (e-Tax) by Uganda Revenue Authority; among others.
Information scientists must embrace the new technologies to transform the management of information and data -Mak VC
The Vice Chancellor represented by the Academic Registrar Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza, said celebrating 60 years comes with a lot of viable lessons.
Prof. Buyinza said the office of the Vice Chancellor partners with EASLIS to celebrate its joy as part of the proud history and promising future.
“ As an academic institution our tool of trade is teaching, learning and research and community outreach but our currency is information. The oxygen and life-blood of the knowledge economy is data, information and records management. And being the custodians of these valuable assets means you are determined to the speed and agenda of our development”. Buyinza said
Buyinza implored information scientists to embrace the new technologies to transform the management of information and data.
“We are going through the information revolution. Digital libraries and web mediated technologies have come on board but the goal is the same, to transform society. This is your time to shape our destiny as a country and as a humanity. Do not lose the moment” the professor advised.
EASLIS has shaped the Library and Information Science Industry in Uganda, DVCAA
In an overview of the school’s history, the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge Academic Affairs represented by the Director Quality Assurance Dr. Cyprian Misinde expressed pride in the schools contribution in obtaining some required documentation to trace the university history, undertaking research in various fields with output reflected in international databases.
He said EASLIS research and professional training has shaped the Library and Information Science industry in Uganda, the region and internationally. At the national level, the DCVAA pointed out the development of the public library system, the national library in Uganda, and the school library policy .
The school was also hailed for the establishment of Information Resources Centres and professionalization of records and Archives management in Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, private sector agencies and civil society organizations.
The DVCAA appreciated the school for the development and growth of the publishing sector, enactment of relevant legislation, institutional records and archives policies, development of the museum industry and academic libraries as well as the automation of library, records and archives management functions and digitization of institutional records at various levels.
“Notably, EASLIS has contributed significantly to the digitization of academic records at Makerere university and streamlining storage access to academic records under the DARP project that is being implemented under the department of the Academic Registrar”, Dr. Misinde stated
The DVCAA recognized various stakeholders and development partners for supporting the school. These include UNESCO, Swedish school of Library and Information Sciences, Bras university, National Library of Uganda and the Uganda Library and information Association among others.
The DVC AA recognized the invaluable contribution of the school leadership since its founding. These include Mr. Knud Larsen the first Director of EASLIS (1963-1966), Mr. Seith Director (1967-1971), Prof. SAH Abidi (1972-2002), Prof. Isaac Milton Namwanje Kigongo –Bukenya RIP (2002-2006), Prof. Elisam Magara (2006-2010), Prof. Constant Okello-Obura(2010-2014 and 2018-2022), Dr. George W. Kiyingi (2013-2018)and the current first female Dean Dr. Sarah Kaddu.
EASLIS has significantly contributed to knowledge, Principal CoCIS
The Principal College of Computing and Information Sciences Prof. Tonny Oyana appreciated participants for participating in the celebrations of EASLIS at 60 saying, the school is among the elders close to the university centenary celebrations.
Prof. Oyana thanked the school leadership for organizing the celebrations for purposes of reflecting noting, it was important to take stock after walking a journey to determine how to reach the final destination.
The Principal honored EASLIS for her significant contribution to knowledge.
“As a scholar, the work that has impacted a lot in term of publications that are out there lies in the information seeking behavior. And, among the giants is Prof. Robert Ikoja Odong who has 180 citations. When you go to the web of science, there are other others who have published a lot like over 500 citations”, Oyana appreciated.
Prof. Oyana said the basic function of the library is to enable people seek information and data in different areas including agriculture, health, finance, economy and legal aspects among others, giving humans an empowering that enable them achieve their goals.
Noting that information can accessed digitally, the professor urged participants to utilize gadgets such as mobile phones for economic productivity to enhance their livelihoods.
The Principal also recognized librarians for satisfying people’s needs for information.
Celebrations as a platform for collaboration and a catalyst for progress in library and information services, Dean EASLIS
The Dean EASLIS Dr. Sarah Kaddu, said the gathering was purposed to delve into the crucial realms of library and information services as well as the significance of records management in society.
“The symposium stands as a testimony to the enduring commitment of this institution and its stakeholders towards the advancement of knowledge, information accessibility and preservation of our collective memory”, she said.
Expressing gratitude to the academics, practitioners, students and enthusiasts and library lovers for gracing the occasion, Dr. Kaddu explained that the symposium was a platform for vibrant discussions, sharing insights and fostering collaborations.
“This symposium comes at a time when EASLIS is celebrating her 60th anniversary. We at EASLIS stand on the shoulders of those that came before us. We celebrate those who have gone through EASLIS and especially you who have come to celebrate with us”, the Dean appreciated.
The Dean re-echoed the importance of libraries, information services and records management saying, the symposium serves as a witness to the university’s commitment to continually improve and adapt to the evolving landscape of information management and records preservation
“Let us embrace this symposium as a beacon of knowledge, a platform for collaboration and a catalyst for progress in library and information services as well as records management. Together, let us strive to enhance our understanding, practices and methodologies, fostering a culture of effective information management and preservation”, Dr. Kaddu implored.
The Dean further implored information scientists to embrace technology in transforming how they manage information and records on grounds that the digital age has come with both opportunities and challenges requiring them to constantly evolve their methods and strategies in handling information and records in both traditional and digital formats.
Principal Communication Officer, CoCIS