The Sixth Scientific Conference On TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER FOR DEVELOPMENT, Khartoum, 8-10 April 2003: Establishing Basic Levels of Technology Transfer for :Sudan Documentation and Library Services:Challenges and Opportunities /By: Rafaa Ashamallah Ghobrial||
3. SUDANESE LIBRARIIES AND INFORMATION INSTITUTIONS:
Sudan is the biggest and vast agricultural and pastoral country with rich cultural diversity in Africa and Arab regions. It has a variety of climate zones, which have great effect on the distribution of natural and national resources of development activities in twenty-Six states covering total area of 2.5 million square kilometers with total population of 30 million. Sudan is in dire need for development if it can only to free its citizens from civil war, hunger, diseases and ignorance among other vices. All these individually and in combination have a great influence on information needs of people involved in diverse ways of development activities. It can constrain or support information generation, capture, processing and dissemination as well as the development of the related information Infrastructure and policies.
Thus, Sudan information institutions, which provide a measure of the relative numbers, size and capacity of the information infrastructures in the country and indicate the intensity of the economic activities devoted to information. In the past, Sudanese libraries were small collections of books and manuscripts owned by religious leaders and tribal chiefs. They consulted them for information on different social, economic, political, and religious matters. At the beginning of 1990s, libraries with small collections of books were established in schools and for British senior administrators and officers. Science Libraries (special libraries) were also established to support research in Wellcome Chemical Research Laboratories, the Stack Medical Research Laboratories, and Agricultural Research Library and also in some of ministries and other governmental bodies in the Country respectively. Presently, they can be classified as follows:
1- Academic libraries which include:
· University libraries that are located in 26 governmental universities (university library /state) which branch into faculty libraries. Therefore, the number of libraries depends on the number of faculties or compounds of faculties per university; and 53 private universities and colleges, i.e. single library per university.
· School Libraries are very rare and affiliated to Student Activity of State (Province) Education Administration while very few collections are located in private schools
2- Public libraries, which are few private, special, scattered and poor infrastructed libraries in the country excluding the British council libraries and cultural centres.
3- Documentation and Information Centers and small collections are embodied mainly in Ministries bodies, non-governmental and international organizations working in Sudan and private institutions.
4- National Records Office, which has the authority to dispose of the records belonging to the different government departments. Recently it finds a great appreciation of government, restarts its restructuring based on international standards and norms, and collaborates with local government offices in Sudan States.
There are over 500 Libraries, and documentation and information centers, cultural centers, and archives whereas National Library under construction. Most of them are located in Khartoum. They have been created to ensure the long-term accessibility of recorded information. That is what they do now, and that is what they will do in the future. This means they acquire, catalog or process, organize, offer for use and preserve publicly available material irrespective of the form in which it is packaged in such a way that, when it is needed, it can be located and used. This is the unique function of the library, and no other institution carries out this long-term, systematic work. They play a very important role, one that will far surpass the simple conservation of a patrimony and become mediators in the Sudanese Knowledge Society. They contain variety of information, which covers different sectors of national resources, which are: agriculture, education, economy, industry, finance, natural resources, social welfare and research and development depending on mission of the library. Their collections are well organized traditionally following mostly Dewy or UDC classification schemes and Anglo American Cataloging Rules (AACR2). These collections are acquired by donation (89%), exchange (7%) and purchase (4%) depending on the allocated budgets for the library. In the last decade, most of their parent institutions have introduced information technologies specifically computers and Internet connectivity into their institutions but not used mainly for information activities and services.
· Severe financial constraints compounded by lack of strategic planning, i.e. unclear/ineffective national documentation and information policies as well as well of Sudanese dormant role Library and Information Association
· Inadequate facilities infrastructure: very few libraries have good information buildings which did not follow the library building standards and specifications whereas others have neither purposely built nor equipped and well furnished; and some did not possess any facility.
· Most of Information institutions are run by unqualified and computer illiterate personnel and directed by professionals not specialized in field of Library and Information Science and also lack awareness with the basics of information technology. There is dire need for staff training opportunities and adequate training on technologies related to libraries facilities
· Harsh environmental conditions damaging collections and accelerating equipment depreciation
· Illegal aspects of circulation and use of rare and precious collections and also ineffective role of legal deposit which states that the printer of ever published in Sudan and every Sudanese author who publishes his work/ internally or externally shall within one month of the publication, therefore deposit at his own expense a copy of the work to each of the three specified institutions. These institutions are University of Khartoum library, The Central Records Office, and Documentation and Information Center of National Center for Research (NCR-DIC)
· Inadequate salaries and difficult working conditions e.g. Library and Science Graduates in National Centre for Research are recruited as Technicians.
· Lack of standardization, norms, cooperation in their systems.