Libro Futuro

Open Access, Digital storytelling and Technology between communities and sustainable development goals for libraries. Mario Coffa interviews David Koech

Intervista in italiano

David Koech is the founder of Library Matters Initiative Africa-LMI-AFRICA blog, librarian from Kabarak University-Kenya, Young African Library Leader, Research4life master trainer, Kenya sign language interpreter, and a basic Russian language conversant, ensuring no one is left behind in accessing information. David is passionate about partnering across to meet the needs of library patrons, advocate for Open Knowledge ecosystem and sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to improve libraries. David leads a number of impactful initiatives for his community, such as advocating for sustainable development goals to improve libraries, health & education. He also uses digital storytelling to inform and to educate.

David, what does it mean to be a librarian in Kenya? Is there a legal recognition of the profession in your country? What is the academic and educational path you have to undertake in order to become a librarian? standards of being a librarian in kenya by law

Being a librarian in Kenya means a person who works professionally in a Library providing access to information and resources .It involves library management, and dissemination of information resources to users.

The legal recognition of the profession in Kenya is well realized.This is evidenced by  cap 225 of the Laws of Kenya, which mandates the Kenya National Library Services Board to promote, establish, equip, manage, and maintain libraries in Kenya. Also professional associations such as the Kenya Library Association (KLA) champion the interests of librarians and promote best practices in the field.

In Kenya, those who want to become librarians pursue an academic and educational route. Where one has to complete their secondary education level with a strong academic performance and then proceed to higher institutions for a Certificate or Diploma, Bachelor’s Degree or master’s degree (optional) -not required for entry-level positions.

Obtaining professional certification and membership from an association such as the Kenya Library Association (KLA) can demonstrate a librarian’s commitment to professional development and adherence to professional ethics. Also, obtaining  professional certification from these relevant international associations like the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA, these certifications often requires passing exams and fulfilling certain continuing education requirements to maintain the certification standards.

Kenya Library Association (KLA) establishes guidelines and standards for the profession. Librarians are expected to adhere to ethical standards in the profession, including principles of intellectual freedom, privacy, and equitable access to information. These standards are outlined in codes of conduct or ethics provided by professional associations.

What role do libraries play in the social and cultural fabric of your country? What is their function?

Libraries are essential to the social and cultural landscape of Kenya. Why?  In a high-tech world, libraries in Kenya are increasingly providing digital resources, internet access, and technology training programs to bridge the digital divide and promote digital literacy among underserved populations. They play a crucial role in ensuring that all citizens have equitable access to information and technology resources.

The Kenya National Library Services (KNLS) branch in Nakuru, indeed serves as a role model for libraries across Kenya. The introduction of sustainable programs in the library for the community has been seen to empower the community with the skills and knowledge needed to effectively navigate the digital world. These programs include Basic computer skills training, internet literacy, information literacy, Transformative Leadership, and Effective communication, basic Kenya sign language training to bridge the communication barrier between the deaf and the hearing in the community.

I know you’re a dedicated digital storyteller. Could you tell me more about this fascinating aspect of your job?

As a dedicated digital storyteller, my role involves being creative and use of technology to create meaningful and impactful short stories for audiences across social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. I create a wide range of content, including short stories about libraries, access to information, and advocating for Open Knowledge Ecosystem and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

My main objective is to educate, inform, and change the negative perception surrounding Libraries in the community and the library profession at large.

Through digital storytelling, libraries are provided with a means to showcase their resources in digital formats, ensuring their long-term accessibility, it enables libraries to engage with patrons in innovative ways and finally, can be a powerful tool for library advocacy and raising awareness about the value of libraries in the community.

You’re the founder of Library Matters Initiative Africa-LMI-AFRICA. What is the goal of this project?

As the founder of Library Matters Initiative Africa (LMI-AFRICA), the primary goal of the project is to advocate and be actively involved in the Open Knowledge ecosystem in Africa by providing curated list of Open Educational Resources (OER) to Libraries and to spearhead information literacy and knowledge sharing across the globe.

One of the involvements in Open Knowledge in Africa as the founder is the translation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization- Open Educational Resources Logo (UNESCO OER Logo) into Kiswahili language- “The UNESCO OER Recommendation and Open Knowledge: An Overview for African Librarian”.

 The pandemic experience marked a very difficult moment for libraries but at the same time it favored the development or increase of many digital tools and technological skills. What impact has this phenomenon had in Kenya?

The COVID-19 pandemic indeed came with challenges to libraries in Kenya, but it also served as a wake-up call to information professionals to adopt digital tools and acquire technological skills as required in the 21st century.

The pandemic was seen as a culture shock to Libraries that had not adopted technology, because COVID-19 promptly made an impact to service delivery to be rendered blended or purely online.

For example, Library information literacy became a challenge among library patrons and students, since most of the users had little knowledge of technology use.

As a librarian in Kenya, I act immediately in response to the confusion among our library users and students. I began online library sessions back at home and addressed some of the challenges students were facing with academic culture shock and accessing information in libraries. The following are topics i addressed and shared on social media platforms.

  • Accessing information in the library
  • avoiding plagiarism,
  • Developing a search strategy
  • The issue of representing ourselves well  to others online
  • Digital networks for learning and research
  • Defining information needs
  • Referencing and attributing sources

Currently, there is a rapid shift to online services which include dissemination of e-books, e-journals, online databases, online training via zoom, and seeking feedback from patrons using Google forms to continue serving patrons remotely.

Information professionals are enhancing their technological skills to effectively manage and deliver digital services and continua’s acknowledgment of digital inclusion, ensuring that all members of society have access to digital resources and skills.

Libraries and librarians are evolving, adapting to new social and cultural systems. In your opinion, what will the future of libraries be in the coming years?

My opinion is that the future of libraries will continue to evolve in response to changing technological and social landscape. As the world continues to embrace open knowledge ecosystems for all, the Library’s role will be strengthened as community center to offer a wide array of services, programs, and information that meet the diverse needs of the community.

Also, in service to Sustainable Development Goals, the library’s direction is in the promotion of equity and inclusivity to ensure NO one is left behind in accessing information and services by the community regardless of their status.

This project, the Library World Tour, is based on sharing between librarians and through their story talks about libraries, creating a real network. Do you believe that this method (sharing) could be a useful tool in an age that travels on the internet and on social networks?

Yes, I believe that the method of harnessing technology in engaging and sharing stories among librarians worldwide through projects like the Library World Tour can be of useful tool in this digital age.

As a passionate young librarian who truly values the power of partnership and networking across the globe, leveraging technology can drive collaboration, innovation, and foster advocacy and awareness of the importance of libraries.

What would you recommend to a young student who wants to become a librarian?

Honestly speaking, to be a librarian is all about being passionate in all your doings because you’re a servant. Being a servant, the service mindset is central to the profession, as librarians strive to create inclusive and welcoming spaces where individuals can access resources, information, and support. What I would recommend a young student who want to become a librarian is to, strive to nurture that driving force; that passion for being a librarian by finding inspiration in the impact that libraries have on individuals and communities, Engage in library-related activities or clubs at your school level and in your community, attend library events, workshops, to stay connected with the profession and also to learn from information professionals. Finally but not least, hunger for knowledge to continually seek out new information, skills, and resources to better meet the needs of your community. The cost of education can be a significant barrier for many of us, but it should not deter anyone from pursuing his/her passion for becoming a librarian. David koech is a librarian who started her educational path from certificate level, is now a diploma holder in library and information science and looking forward to having a degree in the profession. I was raised from a humble background, where libraries don’t exist at all and even joining a university is a challenge because of the status of the community- the poverty I’m talking about. The driving force behind what I’m doing in shaping the future of libraries is passion. Lack of fees to access higher education should not define your destination. There are often alternative paths to achieve your educational needs and thus become a better person.



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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