TU-K Hosts Webinar on Information Services for the Future

The School of Information and Social Studies in conjunction with the Directorate of Research and Knowledge Exchange, on 28th October 2020, hosted an international webinar on redesigning information services to satisfy the emerging information needs of the society. The webinar, titled “Ahead of the Curve: redesigning information services for the future”, was facilitated by Dr. Debra Wallace, the Executive Director, Knowledge and Library Services at the Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

TU-K Hosts Webinar on Information Services for the Future

In her opening remarks, TU-K’s Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange, Prof. Fiona Mbai, emphasised the need for such discussions on how to catalyse knowledge exchange and use through effective information services anchored on the current technologically networked information systems. Prof. Mbai stated that technology has enabled information users to overcome limitations of space and time to access resources globally conveniently at the click of a button. She urged the participants to increase their interactions with each other and resources because the world has become “smaller” due to distributed technology. She also reiterated the commitment of TU-K to fostering technological innovations. She said that it is in the context of seeking solutions to current and emerging problems that this webinar was conceived. She added that new insights created and shared in forums such as webinars are the seeds that grow into outstanding innovations.

In her presentation, Dr. Wallace explained that although organisations may not accurately predict the future, they can influence it, by creating it. She stated that information centres can become successful by combining appropriate strategy, execution, culture, and structure with talent and leadership in their efforts to design and deliver information services. “The evolution of library services is a fascinating theme in modern times. At the core of this evolution are dialogues about how best to fit libraries in the lifestyles of library users”, she said. “The perception of libraries as those big brick and mortar buildings on campus has changed to conceiving them as customised spaces and services which help users to better perform their roles”, she added.

Dr. Wallace further explained that librarians need to provide services which are way above the average information experience delivered by search engines such as Google. She asserted that changes that information centres, like libraries, currently face are indeed opportunities to think differently about how to create value for the users. She also debunked the role of technology in facilitating redesign of information services. “Although technology brings invaluable conveniences to delivering information services, we need to realise that we cannot digitise everything”, she said.

Contributing to the discussions, Prof. Maria Musoke, the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Afairs, Kyambogo University, Uganda, urged the participants to be flexible in their thinking of what constitutes an information centre. She predicted that in future, the boundaries between information centres will be blurred by the need to offer seamless information services to largely dispersed users across the globe.

While giving closing remarks, Prof. Peter Matu, the Executive Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences and Technology, reminded the participants that change is inevitable. He also emphasised that change is a determinant of survival, sustainability and prosperity. He appealed to the participants to make optimal use of the knowledge shared during the webinar. “I urge you to apply, share and multiply this knowledge to transform the information universe and occupy your space in the knowledge economy”, he challenged the participants. Prof. Matu also thanked the guest speaker for creating time to share her invaluable experience with the participants. He also assured her that the shared knowledge will be used by the participants and will result in better information services.

A total of 173 participants drawn from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Lesotho, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong and the Netherlands attended the webinar.