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Libraries and AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa: Realities of Information Culture and Professional Identity

Albright, Kendra S. and Isaac Kigongo-Bukenya

ASIS&T Annual Meeting - 2006 (ASIS&T 2006)
Austin, Texas, November 3-9, 2006


The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines a library as “any organized collection of printed books and periodicals or of any other graphic or audio-visual materials, and the services of a staff to provide and facilitate the use of such materials as are required to meet the informational, research, educational or recreational needs of its users” (1970). Libraries, by UNESCO definition, are few in SSA, although there are many relevant information related activities. Library and information professionals (LIS) in SSA face obstacles including illiteracy, oral tradition, and a limited awareness of the need for libraries. Despite the perception that libraries are unnecessary in SSA, there are record numbers of professionals graduating from LIS programs and engaged in productive information-related work. A particular example is the need for information in the fight against AIDS. Information must be organized, managed, and disseminated to help combat the spread of the disease. This paper presents the preliminary findings of a literature review and survey of library and information professionals in Sub-Saharan Africa who are involved with HIV/AIDS information dissemination. A summary of AIDS information activities are presented, identifying challenges for LIS professionals in Sub-Saharan Africa. Opportunities and recommendations for LIS education and professional identity are discussed.

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