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think of college libraries, you probably picture quaint quiet spaces with
shelves of dusty books, a librarian and students hunched over their reading
material. But this is not the case with the libraries in the National Teachers'
Colleges. NTC libraries are doing much more than you think. They are not only
about books; their real focus is information.
Information is at the very heart of the education system. This is why so much importance has been placed on libraries which have quickly developed into the ideal centres of learning in the colleges. To some, however, these ‘centres of learning' are frozen in time and struggle to meet the ever-growing numbers and needs of its users today.
That is why NTC libraries are leaping into the future by creating engaging collaborative spaces and incorporating technology to adapt to this digital era.
Susan Owomugisha, a librarian at National Teachers' College Kabale described her first impression of the college library as a place that lacked technology and only had shelves with books and reading spaces. "But today, the library space is changing," she added. "We have computers and the internet where we can access books online.
Much of this has been possible with support from Enabel through the Teacher Training Education project that is focused on improving the quality of teaching and learning in the colleges. Through this project, a lot of effort has been made to transform the libraries so that they meet the various demands of its users today.
"There is a need to focus on the library user and understand their needs," she says. "Something I never really paid attention to in the beginning. But after going through the online course (Opening the Book), I was able to understand the importance of the library set up. Things like organizing the spaces in the library and accommodating different kinds of users."
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is another important aspect that has been incorporated in the NTC libraries. Libraries now have a computer section to cater for users interested in using the internet. But that is not all, librarians have been supplied with and trained in the use of a library management system known as KOHA. This open-source software has simplified their work in a lot of ways.
According to Susan, a lot of the work she did as a librarian was manual and time-consuming. This included registering users, writing stock and preparing reports. "But now with KOHA, I can generate a report, get statics of users, circulate and catalogue books which makes my work a lot easier and faster," she said with a smile.
Along with the introduction of KOHA, NTCs received a library kit. This is a set of equipment that included a photocopier, a laminator and a binder. These are things according to her that have helped the college provide better services to its library users. Before, a user would have to exit the library to photocopy pages of a book that they found interesting but now they can easily do so in the library setting without it consuming much of their time. This equipment has also supported the libraries by acting as an income generator. Students pay a minimal fee for services of the binder, laminator and photocopier and this can, in turn, be used to purchase more equipment to enhance the library.
To top it all is the construction works at the college. Enabel is supporting the construction of a bigger and better resource centre that can fully encompass collaborative library spaces, increased library stock, the integration of ICT (computers and internet) and provides equipment that not only enhances access to the library but also improves the comfort library user. This she as she calls it, is ‘the library of Tomorrow.'
All this is part of Enabel's efforts to improve access and use of information that can improve the quality of teaching and learning in the colleges through user-friendly libraries.