Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Nerisa Kamar: Knowledge Sharing in Africa

Visitors to this site have often read about Nerisa Kamar, my great friend in Kenya. 

Now there's more.

The latest issue of Information Outlook, the publication of the Special Libraries Association (SLA), includes a profile of Nerisa Kamar, who is with UN-HABITAT, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme. She works with UN-HABITAT's Knowledge Management Unit as Assistant Librarian for the Sergio Vieira de Mello United Nations Library at Nairobi.

In his introduction to the interview, author Stuart Hales writes:

"Books, journals, and other media are the lifeblood of libraries and information centers, and many librarians have their hands full organizing their collections of these resources and making them available to clients when and where they are needed. But for some librarians, simply procuring resources is a daunting task. These librarians may face a variety of obstacles - political restrictions, financial constraints, and institutional neglect, to name just a few.

"Librarians in much of Africa are familiar with these barriers, but SLA is helping raise their level of professionalism by connecting them with colleagues and providing them with leadership opportunities. One such librarian is Nerisa Kamar, who recently became president of SLA's Sub-Saharan Chapter. ... Information Outlook interviewed Nerisa late last year and asked her about the challenges that librarians in Africa face, how SLA can help them, and what she hopes to learn during the next few years to move her career forward."

Later in the interview, Hales asks Kamar about KM, and the KM concepts she applies in her work. Kamar responds:

"My personal interest in knowledge management is very strong, because it is my belief that KM and knowledge services make up the foundation and substance of modern librarianship. ... [They have been] useful for me in a number of ways. One is personal knowledge management, which occurs through information needs assessments and information alerts; another is knowledge sharing, by developing a rapport with information seekers to understand their actual information needs and meet them. Then there's knowledge services - creating an awareness of e-resources to which UN-HABITAT subscribes and sharing basic access skills to use with these resources. As an example of this activity, I developed a 15-minute presentation, 'E-Resource Awareness and Basic Search and Navigation Skills Training,' targeting all UN-HABITAT projects. Our presentations so far have been very successful, and satisfying to me as an information and knowledge professional."

Congratulations to Nerisa Kamar, Stuart Hales, and SLA for providing this fine example of how specialized librarianship, knowledge management, and knowledge sharing come together. It is a remarkable synergy.

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