Libro Futuro

Libraries and librarians in Uganda. Mario Coffa interviews Sarah Kaddu

Intervista in italiano

Sarah Kaddu holds a bachelor’s degree in libraries and information science, a master’s in information science, and a PhD. in Information Sciences. He is currently President of the Uganda Library & Information Association (ULIA); he is former Secretary General, ULIA and President, SCECSAL (Permanent Conference for Eastern, Central and Southern Africa) and also representative of East Africa AfLIA; serves as Treasurer, AfLIA, IFLA Africa Section Executive Member, Reviewer, IFLA / OCLC Jay Jordan Early Career Fellowship and Library and Information Science Educator.

Sarah to start, can you tell us how you became a librarian?

I never thought of becoming a Librarian. But, in form six, my teacher who thought the programme was a very good programme filled it in for me without my consent. On reviewing admission list, my name appeared. That is how I became a librarian.

What does it mean to be a librarian in Uganda? Is there a recognition of the profession?

Well, before, the attitude of society towards the profession was very negative. They thought it was a profession for failures. And they thought it was very cheap until in the recent days that society slowly started appreciating the profession and also encouraging other to enrol for it. Being a Librarian in Uganda makes me proud because first of all I know, none of other professions can exist without us. We have to co exist. No organisation can survive without information and being able to make trusted decisions, they need to be based on information. It feels good to be a librarian in Uganda because I have inspired so many young people. Many want to be like me. And, I tell them, they can actually be better than me.

The Covid 19 experience has affected every nation in the world. How did you deal with this dramatic situation in your libraries? Has digital contributed in some way to compensate for the closures in presence?

As a Library and Information Science Educator, we were affected by the first lockdown. However, the university quickly put measures in place such as training lecturers in online and distance learning. So during the second lock down business returned to normal.

You are an IFLA member and therefore also have a more international view of the profession. Do you think our libraries will transform in the near future? Are the librarian’s skills evolving?

Our libraries in Africa have really transformed even though not at the same pace like those in America, Europe or Asia. The librarians have and are acquiring a lot of skills to match the trends in information service delivery and training and research.

What would you recommend to a young student who wants to be a librarian when he grows up?

They should think about Library and Information Science because we are still relevant. And, it pays off being a librarian. Knowledge is power. And whoever has power will be able develop himself, the family and consequently, a nation that bases decisions on information will thrive/develop.

Ultimately, this project aims to create an international network based on the experience of many librarians. Do you think this type of sharing can be useful for the evolution of our work and for the recognition of our beautiful profession? 

Very useful. Thank you for the initiative.


Mario Coffa
Mario Coffa
Mario Coffa archivista e bibliotecario, laureato in Conservazione dei Beni Culturali presso l’Università degli Studi di Perugia (2005) e diplomato in Archivistica e Paleografia presso la Scuola di Archivistica dell’Archivio Segreto Vaticano (2010). Dal 2010 Lavora per CAeB (Cooperativa Archivistica e Bibliotecaria) presso le biblioteche dell’Università di Perugia come bibliotecario e come archivista presso l'Archivio Storico del Comune di Gubbio. Si occupa di Biblioteche Digitali e formazione in ambito di biblioteconomia digitale. Nel 2014 membro del Comitato Esecutivo Regionale dell’Associazione Italiana Biblioteche (AIB) sezione Umbria, membro del gruppo AIB sul portfolio professionale e nel triennio 2017-2020 Presidente eletto di AIB Umbria. Dal 2020 membro dell'Osservatorio Formazione dell'Associazione Italiana Biblioteche. Autore di diversi articoli e interviste per Insula Europea sul tema degli archivi, delle biblioteche e del digital lending.


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