PROBLEM: Automating and Building an Institutional Repository for The University of Buea Library
submitted by Rosemary Shafack
The University of Buea Library had come up with its strategic plan for the period 2007 – 2015 as part of the University’s strategic plan. The first parts of the plan included digital initiatives and involved the development of an Institutional Repository and automating the management of the print resources of the Library.
- The Library needed to collect the research outputs across the University establishment and make such more visible not just to its immediate community but to the rest of the world.
- Secondly, given that the research activities of any university constitute part of the parameters used in assessing its quality, it became incumbent on the University of Buea Library to put in place an appropriate tool that will assemble the research outputs of the University of Buea and archive them in a way that will be quite visible for anyone interested in the research activities of this institution.
- Thirdly, the student population of this institution has been growing very rapidly (From a few hundreds in 1993 to 19,000 currently) and that is also seen in the increase use of the Library facilities. There was therefore an urgent need to automate the print collection of this Library to facilitate the management of its information resources as well as its users.
The University of Buea is fairly young (exists since May 1993 – just 20 years). Its main activities are: teaching, research and outreach. It has developed several partnerships with institutions and organizations across the world. Some of these partnerships have involved the institution’s Library.
Given that the budgetary provision of the Library in question is quite limited to meet its requisite projects, there is always need to look outside for help. An opportunity was seen when the University of Buea got involved with the ERASMUS MUDUS Project and which was coordinated by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in-charge of Teaching and Information and Communications Technology (DVC/TIC) and the Vice-Chancellor on the part of the University of Buea. This opportunity was not a smooth ride as the library had to put forward a proposal and advocate for its involvement in this project in order to benefit from it. There was therefore the need to advocate with the university authority in the first place to consider involving the library in this project on the one hand and getting ERASMUS MUNDUS to accept to have the library of this institution included in the project on the other hand. The library went ahead to develop a project proposal that could enable it benefit from the ERASMUS MUDUS project. The library went ahead to put in place a strategy to advocate and lobby the university authority to accept to consider the library to be part of the ERASMUS MUNDUS project. There were several working sessions that the library held to prepare itself for this task. In the first place this project had been announced in a meeting in which the University Librarian sits and the description of the project was found to be equally useful to the library. The library did not only prepare a plan of action for its advocacy process but equally came out with a project proposal that would be presented to the owner of the project when the university of Buea officials decided to consider the library to benefit from this project.
Following long and concrete discussions, the University of Buea Library was integrated into this project and this led to collaboration between the Universities of Buea-Cameroon and the University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands libraries. There were exchange working visits between the University of Buea and the University of Twente Libraries. The collaboration took the form of exchange visits for training and mentorship. The systems staff of the University of Buea Library travelled to the University of Twente Library for a short training for a period of two months. This was a very useful step in the partnership given that the host institution is older and experienced in the area of digitization and having a well-developed library and institutional repository. After one year, the Librarian of the University of Twente paid a working visit of nine (9) days to the University of Buea Library to follow up and mentor the progress made by the University of Buea in building its institutional repository and automating its Library after the training.
The University of Buea Library had the following challenges in the process of this collaboration:
- Technical, and Expert staff in the domain were quite lacking
- There were budgetary constraints for getting the requisite equipment and resources.
What was positive
- The institutional support was there and evident through the fact that a strategic plan had been put in place including that of the library as part of the strategic plan for the whole university institution.
Through the partnership project in question, the following were achieved:
- The issue of training experts was resolved.
- The partnership brought in more areas of collaboration and these included:
- The two institutional Libraries to exchange their scientific publications
- Agreement for the staff of the two institutions to conduct research together on common areas of interest.
Outcome of collaboration
- The University of Buea Library is now automated
- The Blueprint of the Repository is now completed and approved by the Institution’s hierarchy and the main equipment for the repository is now being purchased for archiving to begin.
- Staff are being trained for the exercise using the software D-Space
- As part of the archiving process, 1,700 theses have been collected in electronic form.
The concluding remarks about this collaboration venture are that it has yielded great results for the University of Buea Library.