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REPORT ON INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY WORKSHOP ORGANISED BY SABRE FOUNDATION (abridged version)
Presented by Valentina Bannerman (Mrs.), University College of Education of Winneba, Ghana. April 2001
This report covers a two-week Information Technology Workshop at Boston sponsored and organized by Sabre Foundation. It included customized, one-on-one with three experts in the field, attending workshops with other librarians at NELINET, visits to five libraries and Silver Platter. My stay in USA was extended by one week for a visit to The Library Corporation (TLC) in West Virginia. Benefits obtained from the workshops include the following: exposure to the latest technology; interaction with other librarians; and opportunities for searching the Internet for resources on the web. The final outcome is a proposal for an efficient set up at the University College of Education of Winneba (UCEW).
I learnt about the information technology workshops when Mr. Colin McCullough from Sabre Foundation visited the library at UCEW in May 2000 to inspect the books which the Sabre Foundation had donated to the library through the Ghana Book Trust. After communication via e-mail about my training needs and the most suitable time for the training, November 2000 was selected.
Training with Nasrin Dadmehr
Nasrin Dadmehr, a librarian at the French National Library and Research Fellow at Harvard University, provided an introduction to computerizing a library: issues and challenges. She prepared me for my visit to The Library Corporation in West Virginia in America - the company responsible for the development of the Bibliofile software, which is used by university libraries in Ghana. Nasrin also dwelt on the importance of quality control of our records and the strategy to adopt to ensure that library records are entered correctly.
Training with Ruth Levitsky
Sabre's Ruth Levitsky was my main trainer. My sessions with her included:
- Searching For Grant Writing Resources On The Web
- Acrobat Reader for PDF format
- Education Resources on the Web
- Online Library Tutorials
- Library of Congress Websites for Opportunities for Retrospective Cataloguing and resources available for cataloguers
- Internet Search Engines-Variations available, their advantages and disadvantages
- Digitizing resources on the web
Her training was very flexible with suggestions as to what was available on the Internet. Her strategy was to post any useful material by e-mail so I could access it at my leisure. Through this technique I was also able to perform other functions by e-mail. I have communicated with her since arrival in Ghana and she continues to send me information.
Training with Kevin Carlson
Kevin Carlson, part-time Sabre trainer, took me through the process of website design and helped to produce one for UCEW Library. Different websites were accessed and evaluated and the best features selected and adapted for use. I was therefore introduced to Yahoo Geocities and I-Drive as places where the site could be temporarily lodged.
NELINET Course: Cataloguing Internet Resources
The instructor took participants through the issues of cataloguing Internet resources and the problems expected to be encountered when cataloguing the resources. The essence of this course is that a lot of resources, which reside outside the library, are available on the Internet. The question is how users can have access to this collection of very important information. A manual was provided at the end of the workshop.
Silverplatter Information Inc
The International Grants Coordinator took charge of my orientation. As UCEW Library subscribes to two databases from Silverplatter, that is, ERIC and Wilson Education Abstracts and Full text, a visit to acquaint myself with issues regarding both databases on the Internet and CD ROM was regarded as essential. I was provided a package containing information on all databases available from Silverplatter and with the online tutorial to go through at my leisure. This has been printed and distributed to senior members in UCEW Library for their study.
Dewey Library, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Catherine Friedman, Head of Dewey Library welcomed me and provided an orientation on the management of the MIT libraries. I had the opportunity to view Web Barton, the library catalogue and The Virtual Electronic Resource Access, (VERA) which is a gateway to MIT collection of databases and electronic journals. The Circulation supervisor operated the Circulation Module of the software displaying the different features that facilitate access to users records, which is impossible with a manual system. As mentioned to me at the beginning of the visit, MIT is a multi-campus institution like UCEW. Some of their operations are centralized just like UCEW Library so another visit had to be arranged to enable me observe their document digitization process.
Visit To Simmons College, Graduate School Of Library And Information Science
A meeting was arranged with the Dean and the Library Director, as well as a tour of the College, especially the lecture hall with their state of the art technology with the ability to beam lectures on the Internet at the exact time it is delivered. The availability of a Doctor of Arts programme for library rectors i.e. University librarians with a focus on administration and management was an eye opener. It is based on the conviction of practitioners and the faculty of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science that advanced study in preparation for higher-level administrative responsibility was necessary for the administration of libraries.
Widener Preservation Centre, Harvard University
The preservation centre is thus for the Widener library, which is one of a number of libraries in Harvard. Both preventive and corrective measures are taken to safeguard their stock. The corrective measures, which were sometimes very elaborate, include binding, repairing, and restoring in order to keep the materials in use. The corrective measures were in the form of a poster depicting the correct way to handle books in order to extend the life of the book. A copy was provided for UCEW library.
Cambridge Public Library
Ardemis Benlian, Reference Librarian, provided a tour of the facilities in the library. Users were being encouraged to use the web version of the catalogue, which would eventually replace the older catalogue. Brochures and leaflets describing the resources and services of the library were provided including guides on Periodical and Reference Databases.
Bridgewater State College
Bridgewater State College is a teacher preparation school like UCEW and a visit there was very appropriate. The Reference Librarian explained at length the services at the library, which was slightly different from all other libraries visited. The curriculum library was a rich experience. It contained a full array of resources including ERIC on microfilm with full text from Document Delivery services (EDRS). Other resources include compiled bibliographies on specialised areas like Tests, Teaching and learning Aids, and Educational Software, Fulltext documents in ERIC etc.
The Library Corporation (TLC)
TLC is an organisation that has revolutionalised library automation. UCEW Library has the Bibliofile ITS for Windows which is a cataloguing software developed by TLC. A visit was paid to TLC to learn about the following:
- How to set up an OPAC system with Bibliofile ITS for Windows
- Trouble shooting on the Bibliofile ITS for Windows
- Demonstration of the different modules of the software
UCEW Library had been having problems with the Bibliofile software for some time. After a short interview it was established that the problems often encountered in its use was due to the fact that there were different operating systems on the workstations. After going over the special features of the Bibliofile software she provided demonstrations of the different modules of the software. The exposure provided me with the options available and possibilities of sourcing for funds.
There is no doubt about the immense benefits obtained during my three-week stay at the USA. The training with the Internet to explore for information without any connectivity problems enabled me to obtain valuable websites on subject areas of relevance to UCEW. The visits to libraries offered me the opportunity to observe different management structures at play. This has provided me with additional options when considering the circumstances of UCEW Library. The interaction with librarians and the exposure to developed systems have enhanced my skills and competence to handle any task in my library. The visits also confirmed the importance of a continuing training for library staff. I recommend the workshop for all University Library Directors.