GRATITUDE – CONFIDENCE – HOPE
The words come from Stephen Kizza, a librarian with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources in Kampala, Uganda. In his correspondence and writings, Kizza signs off with a phrase that is both poignant and meaningful to strategic knowledge professionals, particularly those dealing with Africa and KM/knowledge services in the research and business communities of the nations of Africa: “Look backwards with gratitude, upward with confidence, forward with hope.”
Could there be any stronger motivation for us? Could there be any better way to describe our aspirations for our work in Africa?
At the recent Special Libraries Association (SLA) Conference in New Orleans, through the generous sponsorship of Copyright Clearance Center and CCC’s “Beyond the Book” program, a “Hot Topics” session focused on strategic knowledge management and the KM/knowledge services needs of developing countries. Entitled “Global Information Sharing – A Dream Come True: Sharing Information Brings People Together,” the program was moderated by Christopher Kenneally, Director, Business Development, at the Copyright Clearance Center.
In the program, Dennie Heye of Shell in the Netherlands and Kenneally described how Kizza and Heye had become acquainted and how their conversations about strategic knowledge and specialized librarianship in Africa had influenced Kizza’s work. An important part of the story, not surprisingly, is how it demonstrates how strategic knowledge professionals can work with colleagues in other countries. It is a model that seems, from almost any perspective, eminently workable.
Kizza’s presentation, Special Libraries in Developing Countries: Information Management State of Affairs and Development Opportunities, was shown with recorded voiceover, as Kizza was unable to attend the conference due to U.S. visa restrictions. Having been invited by SLA’s Petroleum and Energy Resources Division to present at the conference, this program and the next day’s division meeting and discussion provided an opportunity for conference attendees to hear and discuss Kizza’s important description of information and knowledge management in Uganda.
Following the presentation, Heye described how he and Kizza had become acquainted, and how they and other knowledge professionals work together to support Kizza’s KM/knowledge services work in meeting user needs. At this point Kenneally invited Guy St. Clair, SMR International President and Consulting Specialist for Knowledge Services, to share his own experiences in this area.
St. Clair described his work, a knowledge strategy development assignment in Nairobi for the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). During his recent six-month assignment (and expected to continue in up-coming work with UN-HABITAT), St. Clair has been able to participate in volunteer work with the Information Africa Organization (IAO) an NGO that seeks to strengthen ICT and KM training for Kenya’s youth. St. Clair has also been able to meet with academic leaders, working with interested colleagues in Nairobi and Nakuru to advise about incorporating KM/knowledge services into the curriculum of the country’s many specialized graduate programs. In his comments, St. Clair connected his experiences and observations with the work Heye and Kizza are doing for Africa’s research and business communities.
Note: IAO has been described previously at the SMR International site: