INFORMATION AWARENESS AND ADVOCACY DAY
DATE: 27TH MARCH, 2018
VENUE: MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND TOURISM
Prepared by Melba Mabuku - Sitwala
Advocacy day at MET
Advocacy is something library and information professionals do every day, almost without thinking. Advocacy is spreading the word about the fantastic things that happen in libraries and encouraging people to come and take a look (ALIA, 2010).The purpose of advocacy is to ensure that library services are front of mind for decision makers, management, staff, users and potential users, communicating their value to create a backdrop of goodwill, interest and enthusiasm about libraries. The event was attended by librarians from various ministries and they show cased various information materials available in their libraries. They had one on one talks with MET staff members. The Deputy Permanent Secretary, Honorable Bernadette Jagger officiated the event. She stressed on the fact that,
“Having being a teacher herself for many years, she fully is aware that libraries play a very important role in people’s lives therefore stressed the need for staff members to fully make use of these libraries”
Additionally, “she emphasized that there is a need for all the ministries to ensure that libraries receive funding, librarians are well trained and are up to date with relevant technologies and skills”.
THE MINISTERIAL LIBRARY SERVICE (MLS)
Provides professional expertise to supervise, support and coordinate special library and information services in government. At present, the Ministry of Education through NLAS provided librarians to 14 libraries in different Ministries. The main goal of ministerial libraries is provide technical and scientific information to decision-makers, researchers, students, business community, technicians and other professionals covering needs and services on key areas of the national economy. At present 17 Ministerial/special libraries operate under Government Ministries.
THE MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND TOURISM RESOURCE CENTRE
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism Resource Centre (METRC) is a Ministerial reference information Centre which falls under the Directorate of planning and Technical Services. The resource Centre serves staff members, researchers, business people, students, learners and the general public by providing technical and innovative information on environmental aspects and tourism.
The vision for the library is to foster an environment of discovery and intellectual exchange that inspires all our users by turning them into becoming critical thinkers through access to timely and relevant information.
The libraries values are centered on collaboration, diversity, excellence, quick and effective responseness in meeting the needs of our users.
PURPOSE OF THE INFORMATION AND ADVOCACY DAY
Librarians in Ministerial libraries have a crucial role to play in ensuring that these libraries are put into use by the staff members otherwise the so purpose of having libraries in these Ministries would be in vain. It was discovered through monitoring and evaluation of all the ministries monthly library statistics, it was observed that the usage levels by staff members was on the low side. Understanding that our primary key users of these libraries are staff members, librarians then came together and came up with the idea of starting to conduct information awareness sessions on a quarterly basis.
The purpose of the information awareness sessions is to simply for librarians to create awareness to staff members on the available information found in libraries, the services provided and also to encourage staff members to become library members. Additionally, the motive of this event is to encourage usage of libraries and also for staff members to network with other librarians in other ministries and be able to find out more on what information can be accessed in other libraries.
All in all, these events helps bring librarians together there by making them feel the sense of belonging.
The importance of statistics in libraries cannot be over emphasized. The statistics helps information professionals to assess themselves in terms of performance. Libraries are able to know how they are performing by looking at how the library is being used, which materials are mostly borrowed, which user groups are using the library more, what are they using the library for e.g. Internet, reading, borrowing books, photocopying or reading newspapers. Equally, during these events statistics are recorded in order to know the success and failures of the event. The number of staff members we reached out to and what where their views on what needs to be improved. It can thus be said that during this information awareness session, four hundred and fifty five staff members took time to come and support the event. Among them were the Minister of Environment and Tourism, The Deputy Minister, the Directors from different Directorates and Deputy Directors.