This blog explores library science issues from a Zimbabwean perspective with the aim to improve and advocate for change. Libraries in Zimbabwe have long suffered neglect in relation to funding and priority. Through this blog all these issues are put under spotlight to find a lasting solution to improve library services in the information age.
Library outreach programmes are still relevant in the information age than before and have taken a new dimension at a faster rate than expected. Library outreach is the activity earmarked to promote library services to the underserved communities and mostly the non users. Library outreach programmes aim at identifying and promoting library services that support equitable access to the knowledge and information stored in our libraries.
The underserved community is a challenge to library staff who is concerned about making information accessible by all at minimum cost in the best possible time. The advent of technology in libraries has made it easy to reach out to underserved communities. This however, has forced librarians to acquire moreIT related skills in web designing, blogging, setting up wikis, using social media, and definitely to spend more time sprucing library web pages with all sorts of links that avail information to users from around the globe. So, library outreach are no longer limited to the physical geographical areas but has transcended that due to technology.
World over libraries are a cornerstone for valuable information that promote democracy, human rights, good governance, education and sustainable development. The traditional outreach programmes involved sending a library material through mobile library services to prisons, schools and remote communities as well as the elderly. With budget cuts getting into librarians nerves such services have been discontinued and fears are that information accessibility has been threatened. Outreach programmes have benefited libraries through PR, new patrons and high visibility.
Gut (2010) noted that outreach typically serves those who would not get library services any other way and are a wonderfully endless source of feel good stories. It is an advocacy tool used to create harmony with the community and one should be able to relate the how impressive an outreach programmes is when more the disabled, terminally ill and focused groups are reached.
Library outreach is designed to bring in new patrons. Gut (2010) asserts that outreach brings the library to people who had no previous service. Definitely it should bring more users to the library to utilise wealth information stored in the library. Possible outcome of outreach programmes are an increased influx of user in the library and rising check out statistics within a period of time. New patrons require additional library materials so the library should be prepared to add new books and to design more interactive programmes to share with the increased users. Perhaps the outreach staff may update the library web page with more open access resources, consider information literacy skills training, and discussion for the library to remain relevant. Social media platform such as Facebook, You tube and perhaps a blog may be used to keep users posted on latest developments in the library. This is not only limited to public libraries but academic libraries can also do outreach programmes to ensure maximum utilisation of resources that the librarian spend thousands of UD dollars acquiring reading resources.
Libraries should resuscitate the outreach programmes in order to obtain new users and fight competition with other information providers, to maintain goodwill with society and to improve on visibility that may have a positive bearing on budget allocation. The more instrumental the library becomes in a community the more management realise the need for increased financial support. Libraries have long been neglected but outreach services provide an opportunity to regain visibility.
Librarians should start to do more outreach programmes the traditional way and also using emerging tools on social media. Try to open up a Facebook page for your library or hey start a library blog to market your library service.
This month of October feature the Open Access Week, from October 24th through the 31st that seeks to recognise the importance of free access to information for research and communication. It is an important week for librarian’s world over who have been involved in the movement since its inception. A number of activities are lined up to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research.
According to McLennan (2010) in her blog “Open Access” to information – the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need – has the power to transform the way research and scientific inquiry are conducted. It has direct and widespread implications for academia, medicine, science, industry, and for society as a whole.” She further noted that Open Access (OA) has the potential to maximize research investments, increase the exposure and use of published research, facilitate the ability to conduct research across available literature, and enhance the overall advancement of scholarship.
Libraries can plan a number of activities to promote open access and to bring awareness to the user community. Plan events that create awareness and do presentation of some of the open access resources the library has. It is also beneficial to do group discussion on open access pinpointing on the benefits to users and scholars. The library also benefits through having access to free full text content that would have a positive bearing on budgets.
Library association can also take the opportunity to promote open access materials to librarians. Probably the association can organize a march to make the event which is running for the fifth year. Zimbabwe will definitely need to promote the open access movement through promoting establishing functional institutional repositories (IR) that are a convenient mode for open access. The challenge lie in academic community that is reluctant to deposit their research output with the IRs. Students too should be engaged in the promoting of open access so that they understand the concept and to participate in the open access to support the publishing and likely foreseeing the continual of the movement through their publishing participation.
The user community does have a role to play in the open access week. Firstly they should see that they effectively use the open access content for research and development. Secondly, they have to tell some one about the usefulness of open access content to promote its adoption.
The Open Access week give librarians, users, publishers and writers an opportunity to share ideas on developing the movement and see continuity with participation from all sectors. Take this opportunity to organise something at your school, college, library and community as the information is key for development and sustainable livelihood.
The Zimbabwe Library Association (ZimLA) is joining hands with the International Association of School Librarianship Africa Sub Sahara region to host a Regional School Library seminar at Masiyephambili College in Bulawayo from the 8th – 9th of February 2012.The event will allow school librarians, school library media specialist, LIS lecturers library science students and interest people to meet, learn and share ideas an all aspects of school librarianship in Africa.
The theme is: ‘School libraries in Africa in the 21st century: learning from each other.’ Sub-themes are: information literacy skills across (from print to ICT; national school library policy; school libraries for reading skills; regional school library cooperation in Zimbabwe/Africa cooperation; joint school/community library cooperation; mobile library service in Zimbabwe/Africa; creative ideas for school libraries with limited resources: best practices; a library in every school campaign; any other topics related to the main theme (e.g. dissemination of HIV and AIDS information in school libraries).
The first call for papers has been announced and the abstracts should be no more than 200 words and should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org . The deadline is 31 October 2011. Conference presenters and participants will come from Zimbabwe, SADC, Africa and beyond.
The Zimbabwe International Book Fair rolls into life 28th of July 2011 until 30th of July 2011. A whole lot of pragrammes are lined up which are expected to change the face of the international book fair that was not glamorous for the past ten years due to a myriad of challenges ranging from politics to economic as well as social.
The three day event is going to bring together writers, artists, publishers and librarians to discuss issues relating to “Books for Africa’s development.” Sub-themes for the three days have been identified and are crucial to Zimbabwe’s access to information and availability of books to support literacy programmes and improving on the reading habits of Zimbabweans. The Indaba conference are critical in mapping and developing and policies that promote appropriate reading material to the public to foster development and social progress.
The 2011 internationally acclaimed book fair shall hold Young Person’s Indaba under the theme “Reading, Writing and Literature for the Youth” to foster creativity writing in the youth and promote acceptance of literature. The last day is to be characterized by a writer’s workshop that is going to unite the writer’s from all breath and walk’s of life to discussion writing and publishing in the age of computers.
Librarians will have an opportunity to mingle with the writers', publishers' and valued library clients.
D-Lib Magazine (http://www.dlib.org/) - D-Lib Magazine is a monthly magazine about innovation and research in digital libraries.
Journal of Digital Information (http://jodi.ecs.soton.ac.uk/) - E-journal publishing papers on the management, presentation and uses of information in digital environments
Information Research: An international electronic journal (http://informationr.net/ir/) - Information Research is a free, international, scholarly journal, dedicated to making freely accessible the results of research across a wide range of information-related disciplines.
Journal of Electronic Publishing. (http://www.press.umich.edu/jep) - The Journal of Electronic Publishing is for the thoughtful forward-thinking publisher, librarian, scholar, or author -- in fact, anyone in this new business -- facing those challenges.
Current Cites (http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/) - monitors information technology literature in both print and digital forms, each month selecting only the best items to annotate for a free publication.
First Monday (http://www.firstmonday.dk/) - One of the first peer-reviewed journals on the Internet, about the Internet and the Global Information Infrastructure.
Free Online Scholarship Newsletter (http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/index.htm) - The purpose of the newsletter is to share news and discussion on the migration of print scholarship to the internet and efforts to make it available to readers free of charge.
Free Pint (http://www.freepint.com/) - Free Pint is a free email newsletter giving you tips, tricks and articles on how and where to find reliable Web sites and search more effectively.
RLG DigiNews. Produced for RLG by the Cornell University Libraries Department of Preservation and Conservation, RLG DigiNews is a bimonthly Web-based newsletter focused on issues of vital interest to managers of digital initiatives. (http://www.rlg.org/preserv/diginews/)
Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship (http://www.library.ucsb.edu/istl/) - A quarterly publication of the Science and Technology Section, Association of College and Research Libraries, USA.
THE INFORMED LIBRARIAN ONLINE (http://www.infosourcespub.com/) THE INFORMED LIBRARIAN is a monthly compilation of the most recent tables of contents from over 180 valuable domestic and foreign library and information-related journals, e-journals, magazines,e-magazines, newsletters and e-newsletters.
Information science (IS) has incorporated a number of distinct disciplines into its mainstream and peripheral research including library science, information technology, sociology, communications, computer science and artificial technology (Holland, 2005). On the other hand, pure science adds to scientific knowledge but doesn't have practical users (Wikipedia, 2007). The purpose of this work is to analyse any similarities and difference between information science and pure science to disagree to a certain extend and agree to a lesser extend that information science is a better devil than pure science. The discussion is based on characteristics of the two disciplines and how they contribute in the day to day activities of the people. Basically the definitions of information science and pure science are to be given.
Saracevic (1992) define IS as a field devoted to scientific inquiry and professional practice addressing the problems of effective communication of knowledge and knowledge records among humans in the context of social institutional and /or individual uses of and need for information. Hawkins (2001)in Zins (2006) identify IS as an interdisciplinary field concerned with the theoretical and practical concepts, as well as the technological, laws and industry dealing with knowledge transfer and the sources, generation, organization, representation, processing, distribution, communication and uses of information as well as communications among users and their behavior as they seek to satisfy their information needs. Zins (2007) suggested that IS is broadly concerned with the creation, dissemination and utilization of knowledge. IS conceived as a hermeutic-rhetorical discipline, studies the contextual pragmatic dimensations with which knowledge is shared positively as information and negatively as misinformation particularly through technical forms of communication (Cappuro, 2000 in Tudjman and Mikelic, 2003) A comprehensive definition of IS by Taylor 91996) in Bates (1999) hinted that;
“The science that investigates the properties and behaviour of information, the forces governing the flow of information, and the means of processing information for optimum accessibility and usability. The processes include the origination, dissemination, collection, organization, storage, retrieval, interpretation and use of information.”
From the given definition the writer concludes that IS is a field of study that deals with the collection of information and communicating it as a profound phase that stimulates development and productivity in the knowledge economy.
Pure science however has been defined as the gathering of new information through discovery of a new fact and principally adds to scientific knowledge but does not have practical users (Johnson, 1994). Other profound definitions of pure science suggest hat it is systematic observation of natural phenomenon solely for the discovery of unworn laws relating to facts (Anderson, 2002). Mulder (2009) concluded that pure science is synonymous with basic research and it includes a method of investigating nature by the experimental method in an attempt to satisfy the need to know. Basically pure science is concerned with creating new understanding to clear facts through experiments to bring discovery such as in chemistry and physics.
To a lesser extend IS in a better devil compared to pure science because it present information to the enquirer thereby stimulating the mind to solve ambiguous facts. The dichotomy of information science from pure science presented by the given definitions show that pure science is concerned with discovery of new facts and explain them to the society whilst IS is concerned with presenting the information to the user and facilitating easy retrieval using well designed systems. Thus scientists are interested with researching in the pursuit of new knowledge (Mulder, 2009). A distinction that exists was hinted by Cappuro (2000) in Tudjman and Mikelic (2003) that: “IS, conceived as a hermeutic-rhetorical discipline, studies the contextual pragmatic dimensions within which knowledge is shared positively as information whilst pure science is perceived as a means of creating knowledge through laws and defined methods.”
Although a distinction that exists that IS is interdisciplinary in nature intertwining with and having relations with other disciplines and basically the relations are always changing. Bates (19990 concur with Saracevic (2001), Tudjman and Milekellic (2003) that information science is a field that cuts across or is orthological to the conventional academic disciplines and deal with distinct parts of the transmission of human knowledge with the storage and retrieval of ii in recorded form. IS classified as a meta-disciplines is distinguished by the fact that it is interested in the subject matter of all conventional disciplines concerned with that subject matter that is of value for society. Zins (2006) precisely state that IS concentrate on the objective domain focusing on the meta-knowledge aspects of objective knowledge, particularly on its technological and mediatory aspects. IS as a meta-discipline incorporate library science, documentation, knowledge organisation, and information retrieval and information systems to effectively contribute to the information society.
The above sentiment from various authors make IS a better devil to pure science to a certain extent that so far has been revealed by the given definitions. Further connotations by Zins (2007) that IS is focused on the meta-knowledge perspectives of universal knowledge provide a strength for IS over pure science which only seek to discover. Zins (2007) added that IS;
“. . . is the study of mediating perspectives of universal knowledge (i.e. human knowledge in the universal domain). The mediating perspectives include cognitive, social and technological aspects and conditions, which facilitate the dissemination of knowledge from the originators to the users.”
Even though IS may seem to be better; its activities depend greatly on pure science and scientists who are the creators of knowledge. Basically IS becomes a better discipline in that it transmit the discovered knowledge to the user.
A second characteristic of IS identified by Saracevic (2002) that IS is inexorably connected to information technology (IT) make it intertwine with pure science which is making great use of IT in all its processes and computations. The birth of new trends information publishing has dramatically changed the field of IS through proliferation of information in various format necessitating the urgency to come up with intelligent systems to enable information indexing and retrieval. Equally important in IT is pure science that allows unlimited publishing and discovery of new knowledge. According to Mulder 92001) pure science keeps new ideas and discoveries flowing through utilizing new technologies and breakthroughs that can often lead to spin-offs that revolutionalise everyday life. The area of IT connects pure science to IS in the quest for informing the information society of new ideas. Anderson (2007) firmly believes that the world of fast computation massive data storage and fast electronics has been built on the works of sciences that work to bring all things together in a scientific but social platform. In actual fact the IT component present in both disciplines provide an easy, fast and cost effective means of communicating basic knowledge based on discovery of unknown laws on well controlled experiments and deductions from demonstrated facts or truth.
IS seem better in that it works toward making efforts that recorded information both electronic and print is collected, organized and retrieval mechanism in place for users to effectively utilise discovered by scientists. On the other hand pure science concern is that new knowledge and facts should be available to explain different situations in everyday life. The bottom line for pure science is to create new knowledge through a number of experiments and computations that took time and require vast funding and dedication from the scientist. IS sometimes referred to as a soft science which eventually would conclude that to certain extend may not be a better devil after all. Anderson (2005) affirms that pure science and information science are potentially equal as they use different methods to come up with solutions. Mulder (2009) concluded that pure science aims at knowledge and is concerned with theoretical constructs ordered towards knowing, while information science as also an applied science aims at practice and in concerned with theoretical constructs ordered towards practice. The writer’sconclusion is that both areabsolutely essentialfor the progress of science as well as maintaining an informed and knowledgeable society.
The basis of the discussion has been built on the definitions given at the onset, analysing the crucial components of each and relating them to the areas of service. Several authors agree that information science is interdisciplinary concerned with the collection of information, organising and making it available to the users. Meanwhile pure science for instance chemistry and physics is determined to bring new discoveries to influence the activities of information and daily life. Certainly pure science and information science complement each as stated byAnderson (2005) that both are absolutely essential.
Tudjman, M. and Mikelic, N. (2003)“Information science: science about information, misinformation and disinformation.”Informing Science: InSITE-“Where parallels Intersect”. Available athttp://www.informingscience.org/(Accessed 18/03/2011).
Zins, Chain (2006)“Redefining information: from “information science” to “knowledge science.”Journal of Documentation, vol. 62; no. 4, p. 447 – 461.
Zins, chairn (2000)“Toward a theoretical framework for information science.”Informing Science: Special Issue on Information Science Research, vol.3; no. 2.
Information is a crucial factor in national development and the ability to use information tools is considered a source of power (Bordban (n.d) in Malekabadizadeh, Shakraneh and Hosseini (2009). Information is a link pin of national development as suggested Achitabwino (2007) who later pointed out that for a nation to develop it needs to have and provide relevant, updated and adequate information on food, security, health, population, education, family planning, youth empowerment, gender equality, and environment among other sectors. The dogma that libraries are there for proper management, provision and dissemination of such information become a reality to achieve national development. It therefore becomes apparent that the role of libraries in national development is unquestionable. The work endeavours to outline the critical role of libraries in national development, referring to circumstances in the Zimbabwean context. Discussion shall focus on the role of the public, academic and special libraries in fostering development and mentioning their roles in improving society’s thinking, shaping a knowledgeable people and impact of special libraries in economic growth. In addition the terms national development and library are to be defined to provide working definitions for this particular discussion.
Adio and Olasina (2005) gave an elementary definition of library as “a collection of literary documents or record kept for reference or borrowing.” A more comprehensive definition was specified by Omojuwa (1993) in Adio and Olasina (2005) as a learned institution equipped with treasures of knowledge maintained, organised and managed by trained personnel to educate the children, men and women continuously and assist in their self-improvement through an effective and prompt dissemination of information embodied in the resources. A library is an instrument of self education, a means of knowledge and factual information, a centre of intellectual recreations and a beacon of enlighten that provides accumulated preserved knowledge of civilization which consequently enriches one’s mental vision and dignifies his habit, behaviour, character, taste, attitude, conduct and outlook on life (Islam (2004) in Adio and Olasina (2005). It can therefore be summed up that a library is an active information centre that collects, organise, preserve and disseminate information stores in different media to a target audience.
The Online Dictionary refer to national development as the ability of a nation to improve the social welfare of a people, for instance by providing social amenities, good education, water and environment. According to Mohammed (2001) national development simply implies the advancement or growth of a country especially socio-economically, politically, literally (educational), culturally and technologically. Rodney (1973) attests that development in human society is a many sided process. Malekabadizadeh, Shakraneh and Hosseini (2009) coin that development is gradual growth toward advancement and power . . . has economical, political, social and cultural aspects. Sharif al Nasabi (1996) in Malekabadizadeh, Shakraneh and Hosseini (2009) development is all actions that lead society toward an organised system of individual and collective living conditions relating to desirable values. Hudson (2007) stated that development . . . means higher GDP’s, better quality of life and a state of national being and consciousness in which information and knowledge are both cause and effect. Several authors (Krolak, 2005; Pyati, 2009; Jain and Nfila, 2011 and Rodney, 1973) agree that development is both an economic and a social equation. The author conclude that national development point to the growth in political, economic, social and technological aspects of a nation and how they are positively affecting the people in daily life, business, environment life and competitiveness of these compared to other nations.
It is irrefutable fact that libraries and information centres play unquestionable role in national development through providing an integral component – information – required in decision-making and mapping the way forward in societies. Unagha and Okon (2006) in Jain and Nfila (2011) note that the role of libraries and information centres in disseminating information needed for formulating development programmes, addressing development problems and informing communities, as beneficiaries are crucial for national development programmes. Achitabwino (2006) assume that libraries are a pivotal point in democracy promotion and socio-economic development in a country. Phiri in Achitabwino (2007) argue that for democratic process to make sense, those that govern must be aware of the needs of those that are governed, whatever or whenever they. This can only be achieved if the politicians and electorates are provided with information relating to democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Zimbabwe has made significant strides to inform the electorates about government activities and projects through the establishment of Parliament Constituencies Information Centres (PCIC). PCICs play a critical role of informing the general public in a named constituency with information to spur development at the same time informing the Member of Parliament fort he respective constituency with demographic, economic, social and cultural information pertinent in drafting developmental projects. Further contribution by Achitabwino (2007) are that libraries are the corner stone of democracy in communities because they assist the public in locating diversity of resources and in developing the information literacy skills necessary to become responsible, informed citizen who can participant in democracy.
Okiy (2009) view national development as involving economic growth, modernization, equitable distribution of income and national resources and socio-economic transformation for improved living standards of people though the use of a country’s human, natural, and institutional resources. The defined parameters are achieved only by educated nationals who work toward achieving stated goals for instance the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). According to Okiy (2009) education is an instrument par excellence for national development . . . it involves the development of the whole person intellectually, psychologically, socially, vocationally, religiously or morally. Achitabwino (2007) opine that libraries play a great role in national development through the support they offer to the education sector. Library services are needed to keep the skills that have been acquired through literacy classes alive by the provision of good literature (Adio and Olasina, 2005). The library is the focal point for literacy programmes and the librarian is concerned with those programmes to provide an effective information system to create a literate community. Nyangoni (1981) noted that the public library has particular value in relation to educational work, not only because of its widespread accessibility but also because of its general acceptability at all levels of society. The need for libraries to support adult education is crucial to initiate community centred development through providing information on agricultural techniques and crafts, health education, political education and food processing. This would have a positive impact in the community being served as it is likely to cause development. In Zimbabwe several such programmes has been launched to provide the rural folk with pertinent information through the bookmobile libraries under The National Library and Documentation Services (NLDS) in areas of Nyanga, and greater areas of Matebeleland among other places. In addition to this programme the other programme was initiated by theRural Libraries and Resources Development Porgramme (RLRDP), a community based not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation. According to Moyo (2006) The RLRDP is generally active throughout Zimbabwe, with concentration in Manicaland and Matabeleland North Provinces. Other libraries are also dotted throughout the country. The significance of these programmes are that they are the only source where rural citizens can visit in order to get current news, access books to improve their academic education or access any knowledge necessary for self-development. Moyo (2006) further noted that libraries are capable of assisting nations address the MDGs. The role of education in national development is as good as the role of libraries such that Adio and Olasina (2005) concluded that ‘education’ and ‘libraries’ are two inseparable indivisible concepts, both being fundamentally and synchronically related to and co-existent with each other . . . both of them together are a means to an ultimate end.
The role of the public library is paired to national development through providing knowledge that is critical in shaping the community, developing workforce capacity and improving early literacy as well as school readiness. The public library has been identified as a natural partner in economic development. According to Nair (1995) public library is an institution which offers to people free access to information . . . to a large extent is related to the principle of access . . . Unesco Manifesto for public library (1994) proclaims public library as an institution which is the principal means whereby the record of man’s thoughts and ideas and the expression of his creative imagination are made freely available to all. The objectives of public libraries are crucial roles in educational, economic, political, social, and cultural development of the country. The public library in Zimbabwe has supported the economic and social development by providing information at the right time to the right people. The role has also been assumed by local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that have established information centres to make information available freely to locals in pursuit of information to fulfill different agendas. For instance the Zimbabwe Women Resource Network (ZWRN) provides information regarding to human rights, gender violence and equality in order to change social and economic status.
Nair (1995) attests that economic growth is not possible without extensive use of scientific and technical know-how embodied in books, and other mediums . . . access to right book or information at the right time for scientist, engineer or agronomist could have multiplier effect on the economy. It is at this juncture that the role of special libraries becomes a cornerstone for development by collecting knowledge valuable to the engineers, entrepreneurs and scientist alike. A good example is the Empretec information centre that provides timely information to entrepreneurs and Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) about markets to provide urgent issues related to economic growth. Another information service worth mentioning is the Zimtrade Information centre that plays a pivotal role in supporting trade through providing local SMEs with trade information. Zimtrade has two functional information centres located in the metropolitan cities of Harare and Bulawayo. Ifidon (1998) affirms that libraries are the most important institutions that contribute to a nation’s economic and industrial development.
Achitabwino (2007) opine that there is need for management and provision of agricultural information to communities as a positive step towards improving the declining food security. Zimbabwe like most of the Southern African countries – Malawi, Zambia, and South Africa - depends on agriculture for economic development and poverty alleviation. Agricultural libraries become instrument institutions that provide information on climatic changes, crop production and available markets. Achitabwino (20070 affirms that agriculture is the backbone of nations and we need libraries to that can harness information on marketable crops, agri-business, agri-economics, diseases affecting crops and irrigation. The information if used intelligently would boost the economic investments giving rise to GDP and improved livelihood. The Ministry of Agriculture in Zimbabwe has established libraries in different provinces and information workers to guide farming activities with up to date and correct information on farming activities with the aim of improving harvest that would have direct bearing on food exports and gearing toward achieving MDGs. Information is critical in changing economic prosperity and if used wisely national development can be achieved. However there is need to invest in the libraries to continue providing a valuable service to sustain the growth.
Information is a valuable asset in fighting HIV/ AIDS in all nations and failure to disseminate information would thwart prevention and awareness programmes that are run by a wide community. A vibrate health sector needs a well-documented and organised health information meant for dissemination to users and potential users in order to consolidate health records, planning and management (Achitabwino, 2007). Libraries play an imperative role in national development through the support they offer to the health sector. Sithole (2011) underscored the role played by libraries and information centre in disseminating HIV and AIDS information as the strongest when they establish partnerships with other organisations already involved in dissemination and education activities. In actual fact access to health information is valuable for a creating a health human capital that contribute toward national development. Achitabwino (2007) recommended that with HIV/ AIDS pandemic retarding socio-economic growth measures to avoid the scourge and the enhancement of behaviour change can yield a positive impact if information on such issues was accessible to rural masses through rural libraries. It is envisaged by Sithole (2011) that libraries in Africa should expand the scope of information resources they collect and distribute to include, sources outside the role of traditional libraries, taking a leadership role in using ICTs for sharing digital materials, providing information in formats that are accessible and interesting to children and young adults who are making decisions about their own sexual behaviour. In Zimbabwe several initiatives has been undertaken, first and foremost, with the SAFAIDS that has established HIV/AIDS information centre that continuously provide information to fight, prevent and more awareness. Other initiatives are undertaken by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare in setting up information centre in hospitals, district clinics and rural clinics that provide information on diseases, prevention and medication.
According to Mchombu and Cadbury (2006) nations are creating strategies to ensure that information and knowledge are used effectively, shared and made accessible . . . to empower people to act as agents of their own development. Mchombu and Cadbury (2006) further articulate that development information, in particular, can enable people to fight poverty, deprivation and illiteracy. This is a clear testimony that underscores the role of libraries and information centres in national development.
The foregoing discussion outlined the importance of libraries and information centres in economic growth, agricultural activities, health sector, education and SMEs as well as achieving MDGs. In the discussion information and knowledge has been considered as key ingredients for achieving national development and as such libraries are the key institutions entrusted with the selection, collection and dissemination of information. Therefore there role in national development is unquestionable and consequently require more funding to continue playing such a vital function. A lot should also be invested in the information personnel to be able to tackle head-on challenges posed by emerging information trends. In emphasizing the role of libraries and information centres in national development, Nkiko and Yusuf (2008) noted that “information is vital resource in stimulating socioeconomic development” and that “a society without developed libraries is tantamount to a person without a brain and memory” (Jain and Nfila, 2011). The public library has been identified as the most used and proper institution playing a fundamental and pivotal role in achieving national development through the various services it offer to the public in literacy, education, political role through promoting democracy and cultural functions. Basically the writer concurs with several authors (Achitabwino, 2007, Sithole, 2011, Mchombu and Cadbury, 2006, Hudson, 2007 and Nyongani, 1981) that libraries are instrumental for national development as they harness information which is considered an imperative component in the development cycle. Thus libraries and information centres are crucial for national development.
Adio, G. and Olasina, G. (2005) “The Role of libraries in educational development.”Library Philosophy and Practice,vol. 29; no. 2.
Hudson, W. (2007) “Libraries networking for national development: the role of the National Library of Jamaica.”Libraries: Networking for National Development Conference, November 22-23, Jamaica National Conference Centre.
Jain, P. and Nfila, R. B. (2011) “Developing strategic partnerships for national development: a case of Botswana.” Available athttp://www.emeraldinsight.com/(Accessed 11/04/2011).
Malekabadizadeh, F; Shakraneh, F. and Hosseini, A. (2009) “The Role of library and information science education in national development.”Library Philosophy and Practice. Special issue,p. 1 – 5.
Mchombu, Kingo and Cadbury, Nicola (2006) “Libraries, literacy and poverty reduction: a key to African development.” A research paper looking at libraries in Africa. Available athttp://eprints.crlis.org/(Accessed 26/04/2011).
Mohammed, Zakari (2001) “The Book industry in national development: Nigerian perspective.”Samaru Journal of Information Studies,vol. 1; no. 1, p. 27 – 38.
Nyangoni, C.K. (1981) “Libraries for national development: the Zimbabwe case.”Zambezia,vol. 1, no. 1, p. 49 – 58.
Okiy, Rose (2009) “Using libraries in Nigeria as tools for education and national development in the 21stcentury.”Library Philosophy and Practice. Available athttp://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/(Accessed 12/04/2011).
Rodney, Walter (1973) “How Europe underdeveloped Africa.” Available athttp://www.marxist.org/(Accessed 29/03/2011).
The subject of ethics has received international recognition to provide working conduct in executing daily responsibilities in differing organisations and professions; however others have decided to put more emphasis on their professions to build a ‘how-we-are-to-do-it’ approach in some circumstances. Similarly, the library and information fraternity through various organs, such as International Federation of Library Association (IFLA), American Library Association (ALA) have drafted and adopted ethical codes to provide a uniform approach of undertaking responsibilities in an ethical manner. Despite the astounding efforts both at national and international level information professionals still find themselves with unique, challenging circumstances to deal with in the existence of other laws such as censorship, copyright, intellectual freedom, and right to access of information. The purpose of this work is two-fold. Firstly, it attempts to define ethics as applied to library and information profession. Secondly, it seeks to analyse the ethical dilemmas that are faced by library and information professionals in Zimbabwe. Possible working examples are to be drawn from the Zimbabwe experience; however a major drawback has been a lack of literature covering this area of ethics in relation to Zimbabwe.
Ethics has been referred to as a branch of philosophical enquiry that relates to the “choices and made and the actions undertaken by the individual and how these impact on wider society” (McMenemy, Poulter and Burton, 2007:1) in Ngulube (2000). Ngulube (2000) identified that ethics in a records management environment encompass the commitment of the practitioners to the standard that is expected of them. Penman (1995) in Ngulube (2000) defines ethics as standards of conduct of a particular group of people in society. In elaborating this point Pojman (1995) in Ngulube (2000) states that ethics explain how things should be done and provide justifications for actions by providing the rationale involved.Ngulube (2000) opined that ethics seeks to establish principles of right behaviour that may serve as guides for individuals and groups. Further discussions by Guy (1990) in Ngulube (2000) identified that ethics are about honesty, accountability, pursuit of excellence, loyalty, integrity and responsible citizenship. According to the Oxford Dictionary (2003), ethics are a set of moral principles. Trushina (2004) pointed out that ethics provides a basis for actual value attitudes, and ethical principles govern professional conducts in situations free from rigid social standards, such as legal. Basically ethics denote the values attached to people in the society the conduct business and may be codified as well to form a code of ethics.
A code of ethics is basically a set of company values and beliefs that is intended to guide management and employees in making sound ethical decisions and ensuring responsible business conduct in order to achieve a professional and productive work environment (Mhonderwa, 2011). In organisations ethics are meant to address a variety off issues in the organisation that include the work environment, gender relations, employee management relationships, conflict of interest and financial practices among other aspects. Ethics generally are enforced by the individual’s own conscience. Library ethics has become a familiar term giving birth to library profession code of conduct also known as code of ethics as a supporting tool, a “framework to help information professionals manage the responsibilities and sensitivities which figure prominently in their work (CILIP, 2003) in Trushina (2004). According to Ball and Oppenheim (2005), “a library profession’s code typically includes the need to protect the public, the need to be responsible to the profession and to one’s employer, the need to support and guide professional, and the need to express its service orientation. Trushina (2004) identify library ethics as providing a framework for professional values, a paradigm of national library developmentin countries and the aims and goals of library services, principles of relations with patrons and ccolleagues, library and government authorities, attitudes to cultural heritage and developing information flows, the use of the internet, and similar things. A fascinating definition of ethics was given by Ocholla (2009) who opined that ethics define what right actions and wrong actions people may take under the different circumstances. Ethics seem to primarily focus on the norms and standards of behaviour of individuals or groups within a society based normative conduct and moral judgment: principles of wrong and right, moral consequences of human action and responsibility and accountability (Ocholla, 2009). However, the role of ethics in society is to promote what is considered good in people. The extensive continuum of ethics is to provide norms and standards of behaviour based on morals and values that are unifying. The profession of library and information science survive on ethics which the professionals observe in their conduct which clients. The evolution of ethics in the library and information profession has given birth to terms such as information ethics and code of conduct that spell out the expected behaviour as pinpointed by the given aforementioned definitions of ethics in general.
Despite the existence of code of conduct library and information personnel encounter difficult circumstances they can not solve in relation to the access to information, internet usage, and censorship. Miltenoff and Hauptmun (2005) pointed out that ethical challenges presented to information workers have increased dramatically. Information proliferation, advent of the internet and global challenges has but brought an ethical dilemma in the practice of information related fields.The ALA has recognised that “ethical dilemmas occur when values are in conflict.” Hamilton (2005) also pointed out that;
The dilemma librarians face is what’s known as a right-versus-right dilemma: it is right to support the community/nation’s quest for security and law and order, but it is also right to honour confidentiality as it is found in librarian’s professional codes.
Ocholla (2009) noted that ethical dilemmas in modern information environment are raised in different circumstances and include the following:
Should internet filters be put on all the computers in a public library?
Should law enforcement officers investigating a potentional terrorist be allowed to know what particular person checked out?
Should books donated by a racist be allowed added to the library collection?
Should a homeless person who smells very bad be allowed to use the library?
Should holocaust denial literature be included in the library collection?
Should there be charges for specialised information services in a public library?
Should a warning label be placed on an encyclopedia that contains clearly inaccurate information?
The above indicate only a snapshot of ethical dilemmas that are encountered by library and information professionals and they differ from nation to nation. Zimbabwe library and information professionals are not immune to ethical dilemmas irrespective of library that is academic, public and special library. The ethical issue presented in Zimbabwe concern plagiarism. Whilst it is difficult to control plagiarism information professionals face a mammoth task to enforce rules on putting an end to it. Plagiarism is repent in academic libraries particularly at university where students write assays for undergraduate and postgraduate thesis. Due to the big environment at University Of Zimbabwe it becomes difficult for the librarians to control thereby creating an ethical challenge. Similarly dealing with copyright issues in today’s information environment is difficult in Zimbabwe particularly against the right to access to information as described in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The librarians’ dilemma relate to access versus interpreting Copyright and Neighbouring Act which restrict the reproduction of published material at will. Due to the cost and overpricing of learning materials librarians would enormously improve access to documents but due to the restrictions provided under the Copyright Act an ethical dilemma would erupt though it was for a good cause – of increasing access to information.
Access to information has been coined as a universal and key issue for many international organisation (UN and UNESCO) whilst “on the other hand extended access to information has been the subject of concern to governments, security bodies and advocates of conservative public morals regarding information networks as endangering their concepts of just society” (Trushina 2004). Aforementioned instances create an ethical dilemma for an information professional in Zimbabwe, worth pointing out is the continual suppression of information for the gay and lesbian society who also seeks information from various centres but due to the fact that the Government of Zimbabwe does not tolerate such practice and therefore does not promote access to information for groups. The librarian would be in between providing access and enforcing the country’s needs. Other circumstances arise where teenagers require information considered immoral for their consumption against their right to access to information however in most instances the code of conduct suffers as the librarian would want to protect society upright.
Public librarians are the most affect due to the nature of their clientele that has differing information needs and that in it generate ethical dilemma. Furthermore the proliferation of information on the internet create a rather inquisitivesituation for the librarian to monitor against let alone to introduce filtering and blocking information facilities on the internet. A peculiar situation erupted in the US after the September 11 bombing of the Trade World Centre, following conspiracy that the people behind acts of terrorism used public library computers via the internet to lunch the attack. This was revealed after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) revealed that a librarian had identified one of the suspects (Miltenoff and Hauptman 2005). Miltenoff and Hauptman (2005) revealed that she was lauded by some, but others felt that she should have remained silent, because her actions comprised the confidentiality of her patrons. However in Zimbabwe there haven’t been such acrimonious acts of terrorism but instance of clientele tempted to view pornographic images via internet of which librarians would act according by applying the code of conduct. In Zimbabwe viewing of pornography and nudity material has been deemed a criminal offense under the Codification and Criminal Act of 2003 and let alone collection development librarian’s self-censor controversial, political, sexual or racist materials.
Library and information professionals in Zimbabwe have an obligation to the society they stand to serve of free flow of information and ideas to present and future generations and committed to intellectual freedom. In view of this, ethical dilemma emerges when users want to download files from the internet yet the library policy prohibits such actions as well as intellectual property rights. In most cases the librarian would not know what to as they also have a mandate to provide access to information but still want to do their job in an ethical manner.
Even though the ethical dilemma affects information professionals in Zimbabwe instance are limited due to lack of sophisticated information networking environment. The writer admits that the situation has been exacerbated by a lack ethical code that the Zimbabwe Library Association (ZimLA) has failed to promote and enforce. The whole act has left the library and information fraternity more vulnerable than before leaving the practitioners more confused. At least practitioners can still rely on the codes set by IFLA and ALA which are discriminately applied at large because they do not know about their existence. Information workers in Zimbabwe are staunch supporters of access to information and make every effort to provide information to the society but other legal framework undermine the efforts particularly censorship which is mainly applied by Government agencies and departments. Censorship is practiced to restrict access to information coded sensitive and socially damaging the social fabric, somehow making librarians interfere with the freedom to access of information as stated in the World Summit on the Information Society. Trushina (2004) postulates that the key aspects of library ethics of superior ethical significance were the principle of free access to information and principle of confidentiality of private user’s information. Basically, the country’s statutes normally supersede the professions code of ethics in most cases leaving a void in the execution of responsibilities.Nevertheless in Zimbabwe there is special need to inculcate in library and information professionals an awareness of the ethical dimension of their work in differing societies. Further contributions by Ngulube (2000) reveal that there is no code of ethics to complement the staff appraisal system and challenges faced by staff in discharging their duties raise many ethical questions. Ngulube (2000) further pointed out that some of the problems encountered include unauthorized access, mutilation, mishandling, denying access and use, compromising security, use for criminal activities and unauthorized destruction and disclosure giving the impression that the Official Secrets Act does not have a significant impact on preventing records managers from disclosing information in the records they keep. Definitely an ethical dilemma exists where a lack of training has profound implications on ethical issues together with a reflection of a lack of ethical behaviour in records managers’ activities.
Ethical dilemmas emerge when values conflict and are “often shaped most significantly by customs and habits thus only appear with special circumstances” (Ferna’ndez-Molina, 2000). Particular groups find material purchased by librarians in conflict with their values and norms at the same tine conflict with the library collection development policy and duty of providing information to people deemed necessary.Ferna’ndez-Molina (2000) postulates that the library can best defend them against such censorship pressure by establishing an acquisition policy which is well defined, detailed and explicit moreover such a policy should be elaborated together with those responsible for the institution, in an integral manner. Numerous libraries in Zimbabwe have acquisition policies that help to provide clarification where extenuating circumstances arise. A fascinating situation can be in the reference desk where a highly depressed student asks for information on suicide. The big question would be should the reference librarian deny the client access to information or break the confidentiality oath by information the parents or family concerning the situation. That in it provides an ethical dilemma that cannot be solved with easy but still a service needs to be provided, such are circumstances that Zimbabwean information professionals go through on a daily basis.
The increase of information on database, CD-ROMs, OPAC and other online journals and abstracts the library fraternity at one point requires copying and transferring of information from such sources while on the other hand authors, editors, producers and distributors of databases want to benefit financially from the use of such products. InZimbabwe such incidence has occurred with the electronic database that University libraries acquire under the Zimbabwe University Library Consortium (ZULC) which some have restrictions in number of print out against demand of articles. It creates a tension between desire of information professionals to obtain information at the lowest cost possible and the interest of the owners of the information (Ferna’ndez-Molina, 2000). It is further stated by Ferna’ndez-Molina (2000) that this is a problem of ethical nature, the more so the greater the difficulty of obtaining the required material without infringing on authorship rights.The library is found in the middle of a critical issue that it paid for resources with limitations and wants to provide the information to its community.
The aforementioned express the ethical dilemmas faced by library and information professionals in Zimbabwe on a daily basis but are not limited to these ones, but maybe more sophisticated depending on the environment. The most critical thing is to uphold to the code of ethics that national organ on library and information professionals should promote and enforce to close the void gap. Interestingly the body to spearhead such activities is dysfunctional creating a more complex environment to the information professionals. Nevertheless, ethics are the strengthening pillar in a profession that is purely society driven and orientated. It still remains a mystery to library and information ethics to grasp the information ethics without a formal method to inculcate them. Several proponents of information ethic opine that the library schools should commence to provide information ethics courses to students to circumvent the future dilemmas. This work provided a working definition of ethics and examined the possible ethical dilemmas that are encountered by library and information professionals in Zimbabwe. The author opine that Fallis (2007) conclude it all by arguing that in order to deal effectively with these ethical dilemmas, library professionals need to engage in ethical reasoning and to have a good working knowledge of information ethics which code of ethics provide but are not sufficient.
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