Faiza A. Ali is a lecturer at the College of Applied & Industrial Sciences at the University of Juba. She is also the coordinator of several cooperation projects involving the University of Juba Library (UJL) and the University of Bergen Library, funded by the Norwegian Cooperation Programme for Capacity Development in Sudan (NUCOOP).
Her vision for this library development cooperation is clear: one essential element of any university striving to provide quality education is a good library adequately stocked with essential scientific books, journals and technological facilities required to serve its professionals in their teachings, study and research.
“The vision for UJL is to establish a modern well-spaced and well-stocked university library with scholarly literature in the form of relevant books, journals, periodicals and references, both printed and electronic, and to strengthen library services by having trained staff.”
In addition, there is a need to improve the library infrastructure by providing necessary equipment such as computers for staff and students, software for cataloguing and improved presenting and repository facilities.
“The old card-based catalogue system should be replaced by an automated system, and we also need a better internet connection.”
WILL NOT COME SOUTH
Due to the war in southern Sudan, the University of Juba was transferred to Khartoum in 1989. A library was opened in Khartoum to ensure that the students and staff received the required teaching, study opportunities and research books and journals. However, the main library in Juba continued to function.
“The library here in Juba was opened to the public, reflecting the outreach philosophy of the university. Academic staff in Khartoum would regularly request books and photocopies from the Juba Library,” Ali recalls.
During exile in Khartoum, the University of Juba expanded greatly. A number of colleges and centres were established, resulting in an increased number of students and staff.
“The original capacity of the library has not changed in terms of space. The main challenge facing the University of Juba is therefore lack of space. In addition, there is an urgent need to recruit more trained library staff. This is especially the case here, since most of the library staff in Khartoum may not come to the south,” Ali believes.
The library in Juba currently employs around 20 people (including five on study leave), of which only eight are trained librarians.
There are currently five NUCOOP-funded projects involving the Bergen University Library and the Faculty of Mathematics & Natural Sciences in Juba.
“The projects have been very useful to our university, especially the library. Most of the library staff have been trained under these projects. There are currently five library staff undertaking long-term training at Makerere University in Uganda – all expected to graduate this year. Other staff members have undergone short-term performance improvement training at the same institute,” Ali explains.
A small computer lab with 15 computers has been created through the NUCCOP cooperation, and a number of books have been purchased. The project team has chosen Koha as the library system for Juba University Library. Koha is an open-source integrated library system used worldwide.
“A number of our books have now been catalogued in the Koha system through the NUCOOP funding. Being the main aim of this cooperation project, we will continue to catalogue in a continuing process of changing the card-based catalogue to electronic.”