Promoting Literacy in School Libraries in Sierra Leone

INTRODUCTION

The heart of information literacy is contained within definitions used to describe it. Traditionally librarians have given ‘library induction’ or ‘library skills training’ in a limited role. Library users need to know where the catalogue is, what the services are, and most importantly where the inquiry desk is. This is not to reduce the value of traditional library induction, but libraries and information are also changing. The provision of information through a library in a traditional form has gone through radical alterations. Already in most library and information organizations staffs are adjusting their services with the provision of new media and access to information provision within these organizations. Thus librarians are talking about social inclusion, opportunity, life-long learning, information society and self development.

A plethora of definitions for information literacy abound in books, journal papers and the web. Some of these definitions center on the activities of information literacy i.e. identifying the skills needed for successful literate functioning. Other definitions are based on the perspective of an information literate person i.e. trying to outline the concept of information literacy. Deriving therefore a single definition is a complex process of collecting together a set of ideas as to what might be, should be, or may be considered a part of information literacy. For example Weber and Johnson (2002) defined information literacy as the adoption of appropriate information behavior to obtain, through whatever channel or medium, information well fitted to information needs, together with critical awareness of the importance of wise and ethical use of information in society. The American Library Association (2003) defined information literacy as a set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information. While CLIP (2004) defined information literacy as knowing when and why one needs information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner. Succinctly these definitions imply that information literacy requires not only knowledge but also skills in:

• recognizing when information is needed;
• resources available
• locating information;
• evaluating information;
• using information;
• ethics and responsibility of use of information;
• how to communicate or share information;
• how to manage information

Given therefore the variety of definitions and implied explanation information literacy is a cluster of abilities that an individual can employ to cope with, and to take advantage of the unprecedented amount of information which surrounds us in our daily life and work.

STRUCTURE OF THE EDUCATION SYSTEM

Sierra Leone’s current educational system is composed of six years of formal primary education, three years of Junior Secondary School (JSS), three years Senior Secondary School (SSS) and four years of tertiary education-6-3-3-4. (The Professor Gbamanja Commission’s Report of 2010 recommended an additional year for SSS to become 6-3-4-4). The official age for primary school pupils is between six and eleven years. All pupils at the end of class six are required to take and pass the National Primary School Examinations designed by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) to enable them proceed to the secondary school divided into Junior Secondary School(JSS) and Senior Secondary School (SSS). Each part has a final examination: the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) for the JSS, and the West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) for SSS, both conducted by WAEC. Successful candidates of WASSCE are admitted to tertiary institutions based on a number of subjects passed (GoSL,1995)

The curriculum of primary schools emphasizes communication competence and the ability to understand and manipulate numbers. At the JSS level, the curriculum is general and comprehensive, encompassing the whole range of knowledge, attitudes and skills in cognitive, affect, and psychomotor domains. The core subjects of English, Mathematics, Science and Social studies are compulsory for all pupils. At the SSS level, the curriculum is determined by its nature (general or specialist), or its particular objectives. Pupils are offered a set of core (compulsory) subjects with optional subjects based on their specialization. Teaching is guided by the teaching syllabuses and influenced by the external examinations that pupils are required to take at the 3/ 4-year course. English is the language of instruction (GoSL,1995).

The countries two universities, three polytechnics, and two teacher training colleges are responsible for the training of teachers in Sierra Leone. The Universities Act of 2004 provides for private universities so that these institutions too could help in the training of teachers. Programs range from the Teacher Certificate offered by the teacher training colleges to the Masters in Education offered by universities. Pre-service certification of teachers is the responsibility of the National Council for Technical, Vocational and Other Academic Awards (NCTVA). There is also an In-service Teacher Training program (Distance Education Program) conducted for teachers in part to reduce the number of untrained and unqualified teachers especially in the rural areas.

LITERACY IN SIERRA LEONE

In Sierra Leone as it is in most parts of the developing world literacy involves one’s ability to read, write and numeracy. It is the ability to function effectively in life contexts. A literate person is associated with the possession of skills and knowledge and how these could be applied within his local environment. For instance a literate person is believed to be able to apply chemical fertilizer to his crops, fill in a loans form, determine proper dosage of medicine, calculate cash cropping cost and profits, glean information from a newspaper, make out a bank deposit slip and understanding instructions and basic human rights.

Literacy is at the heart of the country’s development goals and human rights (World Bank, 2007). Wherever practiced literacy activities are part of national and international strategies for improved education, human development and well-being. According to the 2013 United Nations Human Development Index Sierra Leone has a literacy rate of 34 %. Implicitly Sierra Leone is an oral society. And oral societies rely heavily on memory to transmit their values, laws, history, music, and culture whereas the written word allows infinite possibilities for transmission and therefore of active participation in communication. These possibilities are what make the goal of literacy crucial in society.

In academic parlance literacy hinges on the printed word. Most pupils are formally introduced to print when they encounter schoolbook. School teachers in Sierra Leone continue to use textbooks in their teaching activities to convey content area information to pupils. It is no gainsaying that pupils neither maximise their learning potential nor read at levels necessary for understanding the type of materials teachers would like them to use. Thus the performance of pupils at internal and public examinations is disappointing. Further pupils’ continued queries in the library demonstrate that they do not only lack basic awareness of resources available in their different school libraries but also do not understand basic rudiments of how to source information and materials from these institutions. What is more worrisome is that pupils do not use appropriate reading skills and study strategies in learning. There is a dearth of reading culture in schools and this situation cuts across the fabric of society. In view of the current support the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) to establish literacy standards in school this situation has proved frustrating as teachers do not know how to better help pupils to achieve this goal. Thus they look up to the school librarians to play a more proactive role.

LITERACY DEMANDS ON SECONDARY SCHOOL PUPILS

In everyday situations school pupils are expected to be able to identify and seek information they need. Providing a variety of reading and writing experiences using varied materials in the school library can help develop pupils’ literacy ability (Roe, Stoodt-Hill and Burns, 2004). The mode of assessment in schools in Sierra Leone includes class exercises, tests, written and practical assignments, as well as written examinations to see pupils through to their next levels. These pupils, for example, need to read content books and supplementary materials in school for homework. Pupils have even more literacy needs in their activities outside school. They need to read signs found in their communities, job applications, road maps and signs, labels on food and medicine, newspapers, public notices, bank statements, bills and many other functional materials. Failure to read and understand these materials can result in their committing traffic violations, having unpleasant reactions to food or medicine, becoming lost, losing employment opportunities and missing desirable programs. Equally so pupils need to write to their relatives and loved ones, instructions to people who are doing things for them, notes to themselves about tasks to be completed, phone messages for colleagues and many other items. Mistakes in these activities can have negative effects on them. Good literacy skills are especially important to pupils who plan to pursue higher education studies. The job market in the country calls for pupils to be literate. For instance most jobs advertised these days require people who have completed their JSS. The fact is that workers need to be able to understand graphic aids, categorized information and skim and scan to locate information. Also the nature of reading in the workplace generally involves locating information for immediate use and inferring information for problem solving. The reading and writing of a variety of documents like memos, manuals, letters, reports and instructions are necessary literacy skills in the workplace.

SCHOOL LIBRARIES IN SIERRA LEONE

School libraries in Sierra Leone are perceived as integral aspect of the county’s educational system. These institutions bring together four major components of the school community: the materials, pupils, teacher and library staff. The main purpose for the establishment of these institutions in schools is to complement the teaching/learning process, if not to support the curriculum. This purpose is achieved in two ways: by providing pupils with the means of finding whatever information they need; and by developing in pupils the habit of using books both for information and for pleasure. Pupils need information to help them with the subjects they learn in school. The textbooks they use and the notes they take in class can be an excellent foundation. They may also be sufficient for revision purposes. But these could not be enough to enable pupils to write good essays of their own or to carry out group projects. School libraries then are expected to complement this effort and therefore are perceived as learning centers.

Pupils need information on subjects not taught in school. School libraries are looked upon as places pupils find information to help them in their school studies and personal development. Through these institutions pupils’ habit of using libraries for life-long education is not only developed but also school libraries could be used to improve pupils’ reading skills. In the school community both pupils and teachers use school libraries for leisure and recreational purpose and for career advancement. The culture of society is also transmitted through use of school libraries. Because of the important role school libraries play in the country’s educational system they are organized in such way that pupils as well as teachers can rely upon them for support in the teaching/learning process. Most of these institutions are managed by either a full-time staff often supervised by a senior teacher. Staffs use varied methods to promote their use including user education.

JUSTIFYING THE LIBRARIAN’S INVOLVEMENT IN PROMOTING LITERACY IN SCHOOL

A pre-requisite for the development of autonomous pupils through flexible resource-based learning approaches is that pupils master a set of skills which gradually enable them to take control of their own learning. Current emphasis in teaching in schools in Sierra Leone has shifted from “teacher-centred” to “pupil-centred” approach thereby making pupils to “learn how to learn” for themselves so that the integration of process skills into the design of the school curriculum becomes crucial (GoSL,1995). It is in this area of “learning” or “information literacy” skills that one can most clearly see the inter-relationship between the school curriculum and the school library. For pupils to become independent users of information and for this to occur it is vital that they are given the skills to learn how to find information, how to select what is relevant, and how to use it in the best way possible for their own particular needs and take responsibility for their own learning. As information literate, pupils will be able to manage information skillfully and efficiently in a variety of contexts. They will be capable of weighing information carefully and wisely to determine its quality (Marcum2002). Pupils do recognize that having good information is central to meeting the opportunity and challenges of day-to-day living. They are also aware of the importance of how researching across a variety of sources and formats to locate the best information to meet particular needs.

Literacy activities in schools in Sierra Leone are the responsibility of content area teachers, reading consultants and school librarians. Of these the role of the school librarian is paramount. As specialist the school librarian is expected to provide assistance to pupils and teachers alike by locating materials in different subjects, and at different reading levels by making available materials that can be used for motivation and background reading. The school librarian is also expected to provide pupils with instructions in locating strategies related to the library such as doing online searches and skimming through printed reference materials. The librarian is expected to display printed materials within his purview, write specialised bibliographies and lists of addresses on specific subjects at the request of teachers. He should be able to provide pupils with direct assistance in finding and using appropriate materials; recreational reading can be fostered by the librarian’s book talks or attractive book displays on high-interest topics like HIV/AIDS, child abuse, child rights, human rights and poverty alleviation. In view of this the fundamental qualities expected of the good school librarian include knowledge of his collection and how to access it; ability to understand the needs of his users more so those of pupils; ability to communicate with pupils and adult users; and knowledge of information skills and how to use information.

ROLE OF THE SCHOOL LIBRARIAN

Pupils’ success in school depends to a large extent upon their ability to access, evaluate and use information. Providing access to information and resources is a long-standing responsibility of the school librarian. The school librarian should provide the leadership and expertise necessary to ensure that the library becomes integral in the instructional program of the school. In school the librarian is the information specialist, teacher and instructional consultant. He is the interface responsible for guiding pupils and teachers through the complex information resources housed in his library (Lenox and Walker, 1993). He is looked up to assist and guide numerous users in seeking to use and understand the resources and services of the library. In this respect the school librarian should inculcate in these users such skills as manual and online searching of information; use of equipment; developing critical skills for the organization, evaluation and use of information and ideas as integral part of the curriculum (Lonsdale, 2003). The school librarian should be aware of the range of available information retrieval systems, identify that most suitable to the needs of pupils and provide expertise in helping them become knowledgeable, if not comfortable, in their use. Since no library is self-sufficient the school librarian can network with information agencies, lending/renting materials and/or using electronic devises to transmit information (Tilke, 1998; 2002).

As information specialist the school librarian should be able to share his expertise with those who may wish to know what information sources and/or learning materials are available to support a program of work. Such consultation should be offered to the whole school through the curriculum development committee or to individual subject teachers. The school librarian should take the lead in developing pupils’ information literacy skills by being involved with the school curriculum planning and providing a base of resources to meet its needs. He should be aware of key educational initiatives and their impact in teaching and learning; he should be familiar with teaching methods and learning styles in school; over all he should maintain an overview of information literacy program within the school (Herring, 1996; Kuhlthau, 2004).

Kuhlthau (2004) opined that information seeking is a primary activity of life and that pupils seek information to deepen and broaden their understanding of the world around them. When therefore, information in school libraries is placed in a larger context of learning, pupils’ perspective becomes an essential component in information provision. The school librarian should ensure that skills, knowledge and attitude concerning information access, use and communication, are integral part of the school curriculum. Information skills are crucial in the life-long learning process of pupils. As short term objective the school librarian should provide a means of achieving learning objectives within the curriculum; as long term information skills have a direct impact on individual pupils’ ability to deal effectively with a changing environment. Therefore the school librarian should work in concert with teachers and administrators to define the scope and sequence of the information relevant to the school curriculum and ensure its integration throughout the instructional programs (Tilke, 2002; Birks and Hunt, 2003). Pupils should be encouraged to realize their potential as informed citizens who critically think and solve problems. In view of the relationship between the curriculum and school library, the librarian should serve on the curriculum committee ensuring that information access skills are incorporated into subject areas. The school librarian’s involvement in the curriculum development will permit him to provide advice on the use of a variety of instructional strategies such as learning centers and problem-solving software, effective in communicating content to pupils (Herring, 1996; Birks and Hunt, 2003).

Literacy could be actively developed as pupils need access to specific resources, demonstrate understanding of their functionality and effective searching skills. In this regard pupils should be given basic instruction to the library, its facilities and services and subsequent use. Interactive teaching methods aimed at information literacy education should be conducted for the benefit of pupils. Teaching methods could include an outline of a variety of aides like quizzes and worksheets of differing complexity level to actively engage pupils in learning library skills and improving their information literacy. Classes should be divided into small groups so that pupils could have hands-on-experience using library resources. Where Internet services are available in the library online tutorials should be provided. Post session follow-up action will ensure that pupils receive hands-on-experience using library resources. Teaching methods should be constantly evaluated to identify flaws and improve on them.

Further the school librarian should demonstrate willingness to support and value pupils in their use of the library through: provision of readers’ guides; brochures; book marks; library handbooks/guides; computerization of collection; helpful guiding throughout the library; and regular holding of book exhibitions and book fairs. Since there are community radio stations in the country the school librarian could buy air time to report library activities, resources and services. He can also communicate to pupils through update newspapers. Pupils could be encouraged to contribute articles on library development, book reviews and information about opening times and services. The school librarian could help pupils to form book and reading clubs, organize book weeks and book talks using visiting speakers and renowned writers to address pupils. Classes could also be allowed to visit the library to facilitate use. More importantly the school librarian should provide assistance to pupils in the use of technology to access information outside the library. He should offer pupils opportunities related to new technology, use and production of varied media formats, and laws and polices regarding information. In order to build a relevant resource base for the school community the librarian should constantly carry out needs assessment, comparing changing demands to available resources.

The Internet is a vital source for promoting literacy in the school library. The school librarian should ensure that the library has a website that will serve as guide to relevant and authoritative sources and as a tool for learning whereby pupils and teachers are given opportunity to share ideas and solutions (Herring, 2003). Through the Internet pupils can browse the library website to learn how to search and develop information literacy skills. In order for pupils to tap up-to-date sources from the Net the school librarian should constantly update the home page, say on a daily basis, if necessary. Simultaneously the school librarian should avail to pupils and teachers sheets/guides to assist them in carrying out their own independent researches. He should give hands-on-experience training to users to share ideas with others through the formation of “lunch time” or “after school support groups”. Such activities could help pupils to develop ideas and searching information for a class topic and assignment.

Even the location of the library has an impact in promoting literacy in school. The library should be centrally located, close to the maximum number of teaching areas. It should be able to seat at least ten per cent of school pupils at any given time, having a wide range of resources vital for teaching and learning programs offered in school. The library should be characterized by good signage for the benefit of pupil and teacher users with up-to-date displays to enhance the literacy skills of pupils and stimulating their intellectual curiosity.

CONCLUSION

Indeed the promotion of literacy should be integral in the school curriculum and that the librarian should be able to play a leading role to ensure that the skills, knowledge and attitudes related to information access are inculcated in pupils and teachers alike as paramount users of the school library. But the attainment of this goal is dependent on a supportive school administration, always willing and ready to assist the library and its programs financially. To make the librarian more effective he should be given capacity building to meeting the challenges of changing times.

REFERENCES

American Library Association (2003). ‘Introduction to information literacy.’
Birks, J. & Hunt, F. (2003). Hands-on information literacy activities. London: Neal-Schumann.
CLIP (2004).’Information Literacy: definition.’
GoSL (2010). Report of the Professor Gbamanja Commission of Inquiry into the Poor Performance of Pupils in the 2008 BECE and WASSCE Examinations (Unpublished).
___________(1995). New Education policy for Sierra Leone. Freetown: Department of Education.
Herring, James E. (1996). Teaching information skills in schools. London: Library Association Publishing.
__________________ (2003).The Internet and information skills: a guide for teachers and librarians. London: Facet Publishing.
Kahlthau, C. C. (2004). Seeking meaning: a process approach to library and information services. 2nd. ed. London: Libraries Unlimited.
Lenox, M. F. & Walker, M. L.(1993). ‘Information Literacy in the education process.’ The Educational Forum, 52 (2): 312-324.
Lonsdale, Michael (2003). Impact of school libraries on student achievement: a review of research. Camberwell: Australian Council of Educational Research.
Marcum, J. W. (2002). ‘ Rethinking Information Literacy,’ Library Quarterly, 72:1-26.
Roe, Betty D., Stoodt-Hill & Burns, Paul C. (2004).Secondary School Literacy instruction: the content areas. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Tilke, A. (1998). On-the-job sourcebook for school librarians. London: Library Association.
_________ (2002). Managing your school library and information service: a practical handbook. London: Facet Publishing.
Weber, S. & Johnston, B. ( 2002). ‘Assessment in the Information Literate University.’ Conference: Workshop 1st International Conference on IT and Information Literacy, 20th- 22nd. \March 2002, Glasgow, Scotland. Parallel Session 3, Thursday 21st March,2002.
World Bank (2007). Education in Sierra Leone; present challenges, future opportunities. Washington,DC: World Bank.

Learn English Online to Master the English Language Easily and Affordably

As we all know, English is without doubt the international language. It is estimated the number of people speak English in the world is in the region of 600 million! Some even say one out of every five people on earth can speak English to some level of competence. It is therefore very important to learn English. It can be really rewarding and broaden your options in job and career advancement. There are many ways one could learn English but the most effective one is through the internet. Learn English online is effective and affordable as there are many good programs and courses available online for learning English. The advantage of Learning English online is that you can learn at your own time and can learn from any part of the world! You can use msn and skype to contact your online teachers and study English from the comfort of your home or office.

To improve your English, you have to learn the meaning of many English words and need to understand the usage of English grammar in great detail. Reading is the best way to increase vocabularies and learn how to avoid making wrong use of words. If we read magazines or newspapers written in English regularly, we will pick up and remember the many new words we come across. You can use online dictionaries to search for meaning of a word or word that you are not sure to pronounce. It can instantly look up accurate and extensive definitions and word meanings, and hear the audio pronunciations of the word selected. Using online dictionary is just like having a teacher close at hand. It makes reading a very enjoyable pastime as we could understand the whole story in detail. You should also test your knowledge of English language with the many free interactive grammar and vocabulary exercises platform available online as well.

Besides learning to read English, we must also learn to speak in English. Practice speaking in English with your family members and friends is one of the best ways to learn spoken English. Try listen to radio stations or online stations if you are away from home. You might not understand at first, but keep listening and maintain a regular habit of listening to the stations will eventually pick up the spoken English. Online learning usually is interactive and you should be able to hear the word being said to you. It is a well known fact that people learn quicker when they hear and see things together

We should also try to talk to native English-speaking people as much as we could because it gives you a real native conversation practice. You should not be afraid to speak in English. If we never learn to take risks to open mouths, it will be impossible to improve speaking skills. There is no reason to be ashamed of speaking poor English. If we can learn from our mistakes, failure can become part of our success. In fact, the secret of success is come from failure.

In conclusion, there is no short cut to learning English. Persistence and consistency is the keys to success. If you want to write and speak perfect English, don’t ever give up trying to achieve your goal. If we are prepared to work hard at it, we will be successful in the end. Learn English online is just like having an online teacher available around the clock, along with the web’s widest range of course and interactive learning tools available. So learn English online is one of the most effective and faster ways to master the English language.

Learning English Is Crucial to Your Success

Learning the English language is truly a necessity for everyone in this day and age. The Internet has really created an interconnected global community, and its universal language is English. It is not uncommon for US, Canadian, Australian and UK businesses to have staff, partners and customers all over the world. The travel industry, international politics, Internet and media are predominantly English now and in order to keep up in today’s world, people are finding that they need to speak English more and more. No matter where you live or what you do, fluency in English is becoming a necessity to function in today’s society.

As one of the most widely spoken languages, English is known as the international language. Even in countries where it is not the official language, it is becoming more commonly spoken every day. With the current global media influence, English is the most common second language in the world. More than 400 million people speak English as their mother tongue, and over 700 million have learned it as a second language.

We now live in the “Information Age,” and if you think about it, the majority of that information is in English. Most websites, magazines, books, videos and research materials are in English. If you use the Internet at all in your business or personal affairs, I’m sure you have begun to realize this. In fact, the majority of software on the market today is in English as well, so even using your computer is becoming harder if you don’t speak English. The widespread use of the Internet and social media online has made English proficiency more and more sought after.

If you are looking to do business globally, or even just in the US market, a solid grasp of the English language will be necessary for you to succeed. The opportunities for business growth or even gainful employment are much greater for English-speaking people. If you currently do business in a non-English speaking country, you can expect your profits to sky-rocket once you expand globally. The US has the highest concentration of consumers in the world and controls most of the market-share in many sectors worldwide. Breaking into that market can be extremely lucrative for overseas businesses that are able to do so, and naturally, you will have much more success if you are fluent in English.

Career opportunities for people who are fluent in English are much more abundant than for those who are not. People who live in poorer areas of the world can easily get very high-paying jobs in the American market. Teleworking and working online is becoming commonplace in the business world today. American companies are outsourcing work to people in the Philippines, China, India and other countries very frequently now. The vast difference in the rates of pay and cost of living in these countries make it very lucrative for both the employer and the employee. An employee in the Philippines working for an American company, for example, can easily earn a day’s pay in an hour! Adding “Excellent written and spoken English” to your resume or CV will put you miles ahead of the other job applicants and will allow you to earn a higher salary. If you are considering immigrating to an English-speaking country, you will need to prove that you possess a good command of English. Most of these countries have language requirements that must be met in order to gain residency status.

Those who do business online will be interested to know that over 565 million of Internet users are English. The majority of the websites are English as well. Needless to say, if you want to compete in the global market, English is a requirement, and by having your website available in English, you will increase your reach and readership by leaps and bounds. Expanding your business overseas is much easier these days in our interconnected world, and being able to serve your client base in a common language will allow you to do that.

Even if you are not interested in doing business globally, you may have the opportunity to travel internationally at some point. While it would be impossible to learn every language of every country you want to visit, just knowing how to speak English will make your trip much more enjoyable. Business people all over the world are increasing their English-speaking staff. This means that if you can speak English, you will have an easier time ordering at restaurants, booking hotels, asking questions and getting directions, shopping and generally enjoying your trip to a foreign country. If you aren’t able to communicate with people in the country you are visiting, chances are you won’t have a very good vacation.

Most of the top-rated universities in the world are in English-speaking countries – the US, UK, Australia and Canada. If you are considering studying abroad, you will need to be fluent in English not only to study in these institutions, but also to gain entry and obtain a study permit in that country. Books from all over the world are often translated into English, more often than any other language. Studying any subject will be much easier with access to the billions of books available in English. With a strong command of the English language you will be opening doors to so many top of the line educational facilities and thus allowing you to unlock your full potential with no linguistic barriers.

Comparatively, English is much easier to learn than many other languages. The alphabet is simple, with only 26 characters and no accents; grammar rules are simpler than many other languages; verb tenses, pluralization and possessive pronouns are quite easy to learn. Depending on what your native language is, you will most likely find English to be quite straightforward and easy to comprehend. The effort involved in learning is well worth the multitude of benefits. If you put in the time and effort to learn English, you will truly be unlocking opportunities in your professional and personal life that will lead to a fuller and more satisfying future.

Of course, it’s not necessary to become completely fluent right away. You can easily learn how to speak English well enough to land a great job or communicate effectively without perfecting every aspect of English grammar. There are numerous online English Language training tools that are very effective. These tools are the perfect way to learn to speak English very quickly.

The University Of Louisville Libraries – A Library of the 21st Century

Whilst in Louisvlle attending a seminar on contemporary American literature and touring various sites of cultural interest the University Library was one of those sites that had a never-fading impression on my mind not only for its unique architectural plan but for other inexpressible qualities that make it an ideal place for quiet and serene study. My first visit was when the Director of our program led us there for an induction into the use of computers and the internet in literature research. The room we were led into for the class was fully equipped with computers in all the over fifty desks for students and a master screen monitor for the instructor. Many other rooms including the state of art auditorium were equally well equipped.

I passed through the library on many other occasions. But the most significant one was when on my way from the University post office the thought occurred to me of recording the beautiful vistas of the campus in pictures as well as in mind and one such was the Ekstrom Library which represented to me the focal point of all the other libraries scattered at various ends of the expansive campus.

I took about two views of this building and I was still gaping in wonder especially at the bewitching splendor of its frontage with readers combining eating and relaxing. I was particularly struck by its inviting, comfortable, and open space teeming with students and bustling with activity, a lovely terrace equipped with outdoor furniture, facing a pleasantly inviting green outdoor space, exploiting the favorably warm climactic conditions here for enjoying nature. Taking advantage of the generally mild Kentucky weather with its ample, inviting green space, students can study or just catch a break at a number of outdoor tables on the terrace. On nice days, there are few better places to study-and certainly it makes for an inviting entry

I found myself wandering in to get a better view. As I wandered through I remembered my mission of seeking support for our resources-starved university libraries in Sierra Leone. My search for the head led me into the office of Mr David Hogarth who instantly became an able facilitator of my mission enabling me within a week to meet the Dean of libraries.

Whilst awaiting my appointment with her I was led on a tour of various parts of the Ekstrom library. This library, I learn, holds more than 1.1 million and 5,100 journal subscriptions supporting research and curricula in the humanities, social sciences, business and education. It also contains large collections of microforms, government publications, multi-media and current periodicals, the Granville A. Bunton Pan African Collection, the Barbara S.Miller Multiracial Children’s literature Collection and the Bingham Poetry Collection.

The Rare Books and Photographic Archives provide rare research sources for scholars and other researchers. African American collections, English, European, and American Literature collections together with the substantial space given to reference and reserved books make this library a very significant research as well as information disseminating tool. But it is also a repository and exhibitor of many prized manuscripts and other documents like for example the outstanding 1482 first printing of Euclid’s Elemental and a copy of the Principal with annotations in Newton’s hand. The working collection of Richard M. Kain, and the first editions and manuscripts of James Joyce and W.B. Yeats preserve much of Irish Literary Renaissance heritage. There is also quite a good collection of Modern English and American writers with noteworthy editions by 1890’s authors and books as well as autographed letters from members of the Bloomsbury Group.

A famous and ever-growing and rich collection of special materials, archives and photography include:

Roy and Dela White Collection of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Arthur J. Slavin.Collection of English History.

Hattie Winston Collection of African- American Scripts and Screen Plays.

Irwin Hilliard Archive of Fine Bindings.

Billy Davis 111 Collection of Aerial Photography.

Other special collections include the James Chandler World War Posters and Lafin Allen’s Kentucky Maps.

The photographic Archives houses more than 2 million photographs and manuscripts as well as fine art prints. It also offers printing services and a rotating series of exhibits.

The Roy Stryker Papers include photographs and manuscripts from documentary projects directed by Stryker at the Farm Security Administration, Standard Oil Company and Jones and Laughlin Steel. The Cautfield and Shook Royal Photo and Lin Caufield collections consist of photographs from Louisville’s past. Whilst the Lean Thomas, Matlack Studio, Arthur Y Ford and Henderson Settlement School collections document life and culture in Appalachia. 2,000 prints by many notable American artists such as Paul Caponegro and Gary Winogrand constitute the library’s Fine Print Collection.

The library also serves a much wider community beyond the campus.Through e-mail, phone or in person one could request and receive help or even fix a session with a research librarian here. A Cardinal card enables you to check out up to 99 items at a time and renew books on-line. Visiting academics are entitled to inter-library loans of up to 15 books. A University of Louisville student enjoys the privilege of searching for items reserved for his class on-line. Minerva gives on-line access to catalogues and gateways to many collections. University of Louisville distance learners could access off-campus through their ULINK username and password both library assignments by their professors and electronic databases of library resources for self-directed research from non-University of Louisville internet addresses.

Ekstrom Library houses and lends resources to the Delphi and the Writing Centers. The Delphi Center helps professors use technology in their teaching and prepares them to teach courses online. The writing center assists students, professors and staffs with writing projects and holds workshops on improving writing skills. Through this center an appointment with a writing consultant could be scheduled and important writing resources found.

The University of Louisville libraries a conglomerate of libraries stocking books on few selected disciplines such as music, visual art, health sciences, engineering, physical science and technology at the time of my tour was in the process of moving in to Ekstrom the main library, the over 149,000 volumes constituting the engineering, physical science and technology books and journals.
Besides the William Ekstrom main Library, the University library network consists of: The Kornhauser Health Sciences Library; The Dwight Anderson Music Library; The Margaret M. Bindwell Art Library; and The University Archives and Records Center.

The Kornhauser Health Sciences Library a comprehensive and the most current health sciences information resource center is also a “Regional Resource Library” in the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. It represents a significant resource for the entire health sciences community of the Louisville metropolitan area and the western half of Kentucky. It has over 250,000 volumes, 2,700 journal subscriptions, audiovisual materials and a variety of electronic formats. It stocks numerous items relating to health care in Kentucky and the Trans-Appalachian West, including historical collections, the medical school archives, book manuscripts and physical objects.

The Dwight Anderson Music Library providing user-centered services offers seamless access to information resources in all formats and serves as a center for teaching and learning which supports the University of Louisville School of Music curriculum and research. It houses the largest academic music collection in Kentucky including the Gravemeyer Collection of Contemporary Music comprising all submissions to the internationally renowned Music Composition Award as well as a large assortment of sheet music containing thousands of Louisville imprints celebrating the history of music publishing in the city and the “Traipin Woman” collection with its emphasis on American folk song.

The Margaret M. Bridwell Art Library with its more than 80,000 volumes is a gateway to information for teaching, research and scholarship in art, design, art history and architectural history. It subscribes to over 300 domestic and foreign journals and museum bulletins. It has also hundreds of videos and provides access to the major electronic and print indexes. Subjects covered here include painting, drawing, sculpture, print-making, photography, architectural history 45, interior design, graphic design, art education, pottery, fiber arts and decorative arts. It also holds approximately 3,000 rare and scarce volumes and about 150 linear feet of archival materials.

The librarians strive concertedly with academic staff to meet the information literacy and research needs of a diverse population recognizing that libraries are an essential tool in the University’s mission to become a premier nationally recognized metropolitan university.

The University of Louisville libraries is guided in all its undertakings by its vision that libraries are the academic heart of the university and a place for discovery and learning outside the classroom and the lab. They therefore seek to participate as active and integral partners in meaningful learning, outstanding teaching and effective research. Users are therefore always being instructed on information availability and use. Services and resources are tailored to suit the varying needs of users. Library staff thus identify, evaluate and select materials of varying formats to develop collections that meet user needs. They also apply technology, research and instructional innovations to enhance services and access to traditional and electronic collections.

Rapid expansion in stocks, rapid technological advancement including the introduction of a robotic retrieval system has enabled more books than could be retained in the library halls being stacked in trays which are accessed by computers on user request. The system gives the library enough space for over three million volumes. The less frequently used volumes will be loaded into the system, and students can still browse titles in open stacks in the old wing of the library. Books stored in the RRS are identified as such in MINERVA, the library’s catalog. To request the item, patrons click on a live “request” button onscreen, and then a robotic crane is sent off to find the item, moving among racks of steel bins holding books and journals from which the robotic arm selects, grabs and delivers the appropriate bin to a pickup station where a library attendant pulls the exact item and delivers it to the circulation desk within minutes. The entire process which I witnessed myself takes only minutes and handles numerous simultaneous requests.

Having the RRS, I was told, also saves the library the cost of a courier service and the additional library staff needed to operate a remote storage facility. The Ekstrom Library’s RRS stands out in how artfully it is built into the central design of the new addition. With numerous windows on the system, students can literally stand at the circulation desk, make a request, and actually see the system fill their form watching it work serving almost as a piece of 21st-century art, a book fountain of sorts, whizzing and whirring volumes past the windows. In all, the Ekstrom addition contributes a hefty 42,500 square feet of space to the library

The library’s robotic retrieval system (RRS) has freed up significant space for exhibits in the library, like the one by Split Rock Studios, St. Paul; designer, Lisa Friedlander that highlights the year of Kentucky’s founding and features a statue of Henry Clay, Kentucky senator from 1806 to 1850. The desk is a replica of the desk Clay used when he was in the Senate-the actual desk is in the office of Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, who endowed the Ekstrom expansion and the McConnell Center for Political Leadership.

The libraries now seem poised to attain the ambitious goals of the university of becoming a premier metropolitan university that is nationally recognized for advancing intellectual, social and economic development. The library’s massive atrium allows light to pour into the building and over the circulation desk.

The libraries’ technological resources have developed to state-of-the-art electronic information centers for the campus community with more than 550 computer workstations from which one can borrow laptop computers for use anywhere in the libraries. Advanced wireless technology enables laptop users to access the internet and the libraries’ vast electronic resources. Researchers could access 25,000 full-text journals and hundreds of electronic databases.

Two teaching laboratories enable librarians to conduct classes in the library with instant access to the online world. The library’s three new, modern instruction labs equipped with wireless technology and state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, emphasize the library’s continually expanding role in teaching and learning. Instructional Lab 1 and Instructional Lab 2 have become extremely flexible spaces hosting a version of the 3M Road Show for Kentucky librarians.

The university community can access thousands of electronic information resources from hundreds of computer work stations in the libraries and also from anywhere: their offices, classrooms or home. Minerva, the online catalogue indexes and accesses the many items held within the libraries. Through its access to national and regional electronic networks one could search many library catalogs and databases around the nation and even around the world.

The University of Louisville Libraries is a member of the Association of Research Libraries, the most prestigious and influential library association in North America. Strong financial support from the University administration has propelled it up to national prominence and impetus in strengthening its ties with Metroversity, a consortium of higher education institutions in metro Louisville, Kentucky, Virtual Library and other library consortia in the region and nation thus adding significantly to the materials made available to its students and faculty and to students and faculties from other campuses.

It has established Kentucky’s first library chair, the Evelyn J. Schneider Endowed Chair For Scholarly Communication underwritten by the estate of a longtime university librarian and the state’s Research Challenge Trust Fund. The first chair holder, Dwayne K. Butler is a highly regarded expert in copyright law, particularly that related to educational and electronic resources.

Overseeing all these developments for the past eleven years has been a charismatic, energetic, ingenious and visionary woman, Prof Hannnelorewery Rader, Dean of Libraries, whom I had the privilege of talking to. Prof Radar brought to Louisville a wealth of experience. For seventeen years she headed the Cleveland and Wisconsin university libraries and held various positions at Eastern Michigan University for almost twelve years. She has written widely in her field and attended many professional conferences. She was eventually named in 1999 Outstanding Academic Research Librarian.

Through Dr Radar’s innovative ideas, her drive and direction together with the expanding library collection, upgraded resources, a more inviting environment, helpful and innovative library staff and academics library usage has recorded a 60 percent increase thus exceeding the 2 million per annum mark. One of her striking innovations is the Tulip Coffee Shop in the spacious lobby where readers enjoy tasty sandwiches and other relishing rolls with cups of tea, coffee orange juice or diet coke as they read or scroll through the internet. The Tulip Tree Café has become so popular that it may soon need to add another cash register.

Louisville offers one of the nation’s best information literacy programs. Louisville libraries are no longer just places for research, but are now like other libraries today places of active instruction.

According to Prof Radar, her philosophy is to cater for the needs of the mostly non-traditional studentship mostly adults of varying ages and non-residential for increasingly comfortable atmosphere and facilitating the processes of accessing information. This explains her introduction of the snack bar and the constant restructuring and redecorating of the premises.

“We wanted to have a space where students could learn and do research but also socialize. … We wanted to offer a library space for all of those things,” for as she stressed “Our students are urban, many are part-time and don’t live on campus. We want them to be on campus.” To accomplish that, she says, they completely re-imagined their library for the 21st century.

“Space was an issue,” Rader says. “We were running out of space for our materials, and that’s pretty much a problem for most academic libraries.” Today, the library space is more than repository but a place for instruction, to showcase unique holdings and exhibits, and to foster student collaboration and all forms of interaction, both with information sources in all formats as well as with librarians.

With space a key concern, the highlight of the Ekstrom Library expansion is its robotic retrieval system, a unique system made up of more than 7000 steel bins, offering climate-controlled storage for up to 1.2 million volumes. Rader was already familiar with how efficient the system could be, having come from Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, one of the first to install such a system. “We never really considered an off-site storage facility,” as she said. “We don’t want to store the books miles away, send for them when a student needs them, and then wait to have them delivered to campus.” For as she notes, the robotic system can retrieve and deliver a book in a matter of minutes while off-site storage can sometimes take days.

The University of Louisville being a public institution, open to the general public,it is, according to Rader putting an even greater premium on space and efficiency. So rather than filling the space with immovable objects, such as banks of PCs, it is completely wireless and filled with flexible seating, from stuffed, comfortable chairs and small tables to wooden chairs and large, roomier tables for students to spread out their work. “Students can bring their own or check out laptops at the circulation desk.” Meanwhile, 600 traditional workstations remain in the old wing for those who wish to use them.

The Libraries in their entirety, the Dean told me, hold millions of print volumes from many countries, electronic books and databases and thousands of electronic journals, reference materials, other library resources, library guides and services.

In addition to increased room for student collaboration, the library expansion features three new library instruction labs, where formal or informal classes are held, and the charming new 150-seat Elaine Chao auditorium, all handicapped accessible, and equipped with the latest technology, including wireless Internet access and state-of-the-art AV equipment.

With digital resources offering access to information, much of the library’s space is freed up for the library’s more unique holdings. An ambitious slate of lectures, seminars, conferences, exhibits, and displays, all designed to engage students, faculty, and the community in the library have been laid out as ongoing activities. Chao, who serves as Labor Secretary under President Bush, spoke recently in the auditorium that bears her name.

In addition, the library is home to the McConnell Center for Political Leadership, featuring the papers and exhibits of Kentucky’s Republican Senator Mitch McConnell. The bipartisan center sponsors a range of programming, including lectures and seminars. In fact, the Ekstrom expansion owes a great deal to the McConnell Center-the $14.2 million project was funded by federal grants earmarked by McConnell.

The Elaine L. Chao auditorium is named for the current U.S. Secretary of Labor and plays host to a full slate of lectures and seminars. The space between the rows is exceptionally wide, preventing cramped knees or contortions to allow people to pass. The acoustics in the auditorium are “perfect,” making the space the university president’s favorite venue for press conferences presenting a great location for TV cameras, press feeds, etc. Chao herself recently spoke there, as has Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA).

To Radar though it’s still a library storing information, it is also a place for people to hang out, a place for the whole university, a space to be, a space for events, for special teaching and learning sessions.” a 21st-century library.”

Learning English Online Can Be Fun But Yet Effective

In today’s competitive world it is a virtual requirement to be able to speak fluent English to get the best jobs in any business. While it is a difficult process to learn any new language, English is considered by many to be very difficult because there are so many exceptions to the rules. Fortunately there are proven ways to successfully learn to read, write and speak the English language fluently. Perhaps the best way is learning English online. The online format has many advantages that traditional self-study and even classroom learning simply cannot offer. Online learning has the ability to combine every different proven learning strategy together in one comprehensive class.

Learning English online is far easier than any other method of study because of the wide range of materials and the flexibility of being able to log on and study at any time of the day or night. There are no rigid class schedules which you have to attend every week so there is little risk of falling behind on your studies. Online classes are also easy to adjust based on your work and personal life which is a big advantage for many busy individuals. Many people’s schedules change week by week with kid’s events, work changes and other unavoidable reasons. Due to these changes it is impossible for many people to attend class at the same time each and every week.

One huge area where learning English online excels is the audio and video media that is available to the students. In many normal English classes there is a very limited number of options to choose from when looking to listen to English spoken aloud or watch a video in English. Online there are literally millions of different options available. When you want to learn a specific part of the English language it is not difficult to find examples of it with a quick search or by being guided along with an online course instructor. Many exceptional online English courses offer a library of different audio, video and written items which can be viewed and studied at any time. These items are very beneficial to help learn how native English speakers sound and also for learning the language in general.

Learning English online is not only extremely convenient, it is also very effective. It is common knowledge that in order to quickly learn English you need to work at it every single day, especially for the first few months. Online instructions allow you to do just that by providing vast amounts of information which is available at any time. There is no need to wait around for an instructor to show up at a class room in order to get the next assignment or to ask a question. You can access all the information you need at any time and if you ever have a question for the instructor he is just an email away.

While it’s true that when learning English online an instructor is typically available to reply to any questions right away, there is yet another advantage. The other students who are studying to learn the language are also often available to ask for assistance. This creates a community of learning which is far superior than just relying on one individual instructor. Allowing students to interact online lets one student who is struggling in one particular area get help from another who happens to excel. Each student can help others with their strength and gain valuable insight on areas in which they are weak. Everyone benefits from this collaborative learning strategy and it takes advantage of the fact that people retain information when they are also teaching it.

It is a well known fact that when people hear, read, speak and teach something they are very likely to retain that information for a long time. Using this strategy, learning English online allows you to perform each of these items every day to help ensure you learn English as effectively, and quickly as possible. In addition to helping students learn faster and retain the information better, this method of learning also keeps it far more entertaining than more traditional methods. Allowing students to participate in every aspect of the class provides additional variety so they do not get bored. Learning by constantly reading or hearing someone talk about the same concepts will quickly get boring but when students are allowed to choose what type of learning they desire on a given day the learning will stay fresh and exciting!

Students will often find themselves creating small groups when they are learning English online because they often interact with the same people on a regular basis. These small groups will let each student contribute what they know and understand best to the others while receiving instructions from others in areas in which they may struggle. The sharing of information also provides opportunities for students to network with each other and potentially learn about additional opportunities in different areas of their lives. These small groups may meet only virtually through online meeting services or even just by replying to email chains to each other. It is all informally set up by the students to compliment the education they find while studying to learn English online as individuals.

As with anything new in life, learning English online will come with it’s own set of challenges. Learning a new language is a very difficult yet extremely rewarding experience for anyone willing to take on the challenge. The rewards come in many ways from meeting new friends to increasing your employment opportunities for your future. Learning English is one of the best things you can do to help open new doors for your career since English is the most commonly spoken language in the business world today. It is important to remember that you need to learn English today in preparation for potential career advancement in the future as when a job opens up, you won’t even be considered if you don’t already have the language skills firmly in place.

Use of RFID Technology in Libraries: An Automated Metheod of Circulation, Security, Tracking and…

1. Introduction

RFID is an acronym for Radio Frequency Identification. It is a technology that allows an item, for example a library book to be tracked and communicated with by radio waves. This technology is similar in concept to a Cell Phone.

Radio frequency identification, or RFID, is a broad term for technologies that use radio waves to automatically identify people or objects. There are several methods of identification, but the most common is to store a serial number that identifies a person or object, and perhaps other information, on a microchip that is attached to an antenna (the chip and the antenna together are called an RFID transponder or an RFID tag). The antenna enables the chip to transmit the identification information to a reader. The reader converts the radio waves reflected back from the RFID tag into digital information that can then be passed on to computers that can make use of it.

2.Concept of RFID for Libraries

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is the latest technology to be used in library circulation operations and theft detection systems. RFID-based systems move beyond security to become tracking systems that combine security with more efficient tracking of materials throughout the library, including easier and faster charge and discharge, inventorying, and materials handling.

This technology helps librarians reduce valuable staff time spent scanning barcodes while checking out and checking in borrowed items.

RFID is a combination of radio -frequency-based technology and microchip technology. The information contained on microchips in the tags affixed to library materials is read using radio frequency technology regardless of item orientation or alignment (i.e., the technology does not require line-of-sight or a fixed plane to read tags as do traditional theft detection systems). The RFID gates at the library exit(s) can be as wide as four feet because the tags can be read at a distance of up to two feet by each of two parallel exit gate sensors.

2.1 Components of an RFID System

A comprehensive RFID system has four components:

(1) RFID tags that are electronically programmed with unique information;

(2) Readers or sensors to query the tags;

(3) Antenna; and

(4) Server on which the software that interfaces with the integrated library software is loaded.

2.1.1Tags

The heart of the system is the RFID tag, which can be fixed inside a book’s back cover or directly onto CDs and videos. This tag is equipped with a programmable chip and an antenna. Each paper-thin tag contains an engraved antenna and a microchip with a capacity of at least 64 bits. There are three types of tags: “read only”, “WORM,” and “read/write.

“Tags are “read only” if the identification is encoded at the time of manufacture and not re-writable.

“WORM” (Write-Once-Read-Many)” tags are programmed by the using organization, but without the ability of rewriting them later.

“Read/write tags,” which are chosen by most libraries, can have information changed or added. In RFID library, it is common to have part of the read/write tag secured against rewriting, e.g., the identification number of the item.

2.1.2 Readers

The reader powers an antenna to generate an RF field. When a tag passes through the field, the information stored on the chip in the tag is interpreted by the reader and sent to the server, which, in turn, communicates with the Integrated library system when the RFID system is interfaced with it.

RFID exit gate sensors (readers) at exits are basically two types. One type reads the information on the tag(s) going by and communicates that information to a server. The server, after checking against the circulation database, turn on an alarm if the material is not properly checked-out. Another type relies on a “theft” byte in the tag that is turned on or off to show that the item has been charged or not. It is then not necessary to communicate with the circulation database.

Readers in RFID library are used in the following ways:

Conversion station-where library data is written to the tag;

Staff workstation at circulation- used to charge and discharge library materials;

Self check-out station-used to check-out library materials without staff assistance;

Self check-in station-used to check in books etc. without staff assistance;

Exit sensors- to verify that all the books etc. leaving the library have been checked-out;

Book-drop reader- used to automatically discharge library materials and reactivate security.

Sorter and conveyor-automated system for returning books etc. to proper area of library;

Hand-held reader-used for inventorying and verifying that books etc. are shelved correctly.

2.1.3 Antenna

The antenna produces radio signals to activate the tag and read and write data to it. Antennas are the channels between the tag and the reader, which controls the system’s data acquisitions and communication. The electromagnetic field produced by an antenna can be constantly present when multiple tags are expected continually. Antennas can be built into a doorframe to receive tag data from person’s things passing through the door.

2.1.4 Server

The server is the heart of some comprehensive RFID systems. It is the communications gateway among the various components. It receives the information from one or more of the readers and exchanges information with the circulation database. Its software includes the SIP/SIP2 (Session Initiation Protocol), APIs (Applications Programming Interface) NCIP or SLNP necessary to interface it with the integrated library software. The server typically includes a transaction database so that reports can be produced.

2.2 Optional Components

Optional RFID system includes the following three components:

1. RFID Label Printer

2. Handheld Reader

3. External Book Return

1. RFID label Printer

An RFID-printer is used to print the labels with an individual barcode, library logo etc. When the print is applied, it simultaneously programmed the data in to the chip. After this process, the RFID label is taken from the printer and self-adhered to the book. It also checks each RFID label for function.

2. Handheld Reader/Inventory Wand

The portable Handheld Reader or inventory wand can be moved along the items on the shelves without touching them. The data goes to a storage unit, which can be downloaded at a server later on, or it can go to a unit, which will transmit it to the server using wireless technology. The inventory wand will cover three requirements:

· Screen the complete book collection on the shelves for inventory control.

· Search for books, which are mis-shelved.

· Search for individual book requested.

Other applications can be written for the inventory wand, since the system utilizes a personal data terminal (PDT).

3. External Book Return

Libraries can offer a distinct service, which is very useful for users like ability to return books during off hours. External book return is a machine with a slot with a chip RFID reader integrated into the wall. It works the same way as the Self Check –Out Station. The user identifies himself/herself (if required by the library), and then puts the book(s) in to the slot. Upon completing his/her return, the user will receive a receipt showing how many and which books were returned. Since they have already been checked-in, they can go directly back onto the shelves. These units can also be used with sorter and conveyor systems.

3. Key Features of RFID in library

The reliability of the system, its ease of operation, and the flexibility of tagging all kinds of media easily, is important criteria in choosing an RFID system. The main aim for today’s libraries to adopt RFID is the need to increase efficiency and reduce cost. Automation and self-service can help libraries of all sizes toward achieving these aims, and RFID has the added advantage that it can also provide security for the range of different media on offer in libraries. The technology can also improve circulation and inventory control, which helps to optimize the allocation of labor and financial resources. This means that libraries can relieve their professional employees of routine work and operational tasks.

All of the tags used in RFID technology for libraries are “passive.” The power to read the tags comes from the reader or exit sensor (reader), rather than from a battery within the tag.

A few libraries use “smart” card, which is an RFID card with additional encryption, is an alternative to merely adding an RFID tag on staff and user identification cards. Not only does that identify users for issue and return of library materials, but also for access to restricted areas or services. This would make it possible to make it into a “debit” card, with value added upon pre-payment to the library and value subtracted when a user used a photocopier, printer, or other fee-based device, or wished to pay fines or fees.

3.1 Speedy and Easy User self-charging/discharging

The use of RFID reduces the amount of time required to perform circulation operations. This technology helps librarians eliminate valuable staff time spent scanning barcodes while checking out and checking in borrowed items. For the users, RFID speeds up the borrowing and returns procedures. The Library professionals, instead of scanning bar codes all day long in front of a queue of users, are released for more productive and interesting duties. Staff is relieved further when readers are installed in book drops.

3.2 Reliability

The readers are highly reliable. Several vendors of RFID library systems claim an almost 100 percent detection rate using RFID tags.

Some RFID systems have an interface between the exit sensors and the circulation software to identify the items moving out of the library. Were a library user to run out of the library and not be catched, the library would at least know what had been stolen. If the user card also has an RFID tag, the library will also be able to determine who removed the items without properly charging them.

Other RFID systems encode the circulation status on the RFID tag. This is done by designating a bit as the “theft” bit and turning it off at time of charge and on at time of discharge. If the material that has not been properly charged is taken past the exit gate sensors, an immediate alarm is triggered. Another option is to use both the “theft” bit and the online interface to an integrated library system, the first to signal an immediate alarm and the second to identify what has been taken out.

3.3 High-speed inventorying

A unique advantage of RFID systems is their ability to scan books on the shelves without tipping them out or removing them. A hand-held inventory reader can be moved rapidly across a shelf of books to read all of the unique identification information. Using wireless technology, it is possible not only to update the inventory, but also to identify items, which are out of proper order.

3.4 Automated materials handling

Another application of RFID technology is automated materials handling. This includes conveyor and sorting systems that can move library materials and sort them by category into separate bins or onto separate carts. This significantly reduces the amount of staff time required to ready materials for re-shelving.

3.5 Tag life

RFID tags last longer than barcodes because, the technology does not require line-of-sight. Most RFID vendors claim a minimum of 100,000 transactions before a tag may need to be replaced.

4. Demerits of RFID Systems

4.1 High cost

The major disadvantage of RFID technology is its cost. While the readers and gate sensors used to read the information typically cost around $1,500 to $2,500 each; and the tags cost $.40 to $.75 each.

4.2 Accessibility to compromise

It is possible to compromise an RFID system by wrapping the protected material in two to three layers of ordinary household foil to block the radio signal. It is also possible to compromise an RFID system by placing two items against one another so that one tag overlays another. That may cancel out the signals. This requires knowledge of the technology and careful alignment.

4.3 Removal of exposed tags

RFID tags are typically affixed to the inside back cover and are exposed for removal. This means that there would be problems when users become more familiar with the role of the tags. In Indian libraries this is a major challenge to keep the tags intact.

4.4 Exit gate sensor (Reader) problems

While the short-range readers used for circulation charge and discharge and inventorying appear to read the tags 100 percent of the time, the performance of the exit gate sensors is more problematic. They always don’t read tags at up to twice the distance of the other readers. There is no library that has done a before and after inventory to determine the loss rate when RFID is used for security.

4.5 Invasion of User Privacy

Privacy concerns associated with item-level tagging is another significant barrier to library use of RFID tags. The problem with today’s library RFID system is that the tags contain static information that can be relatively easily read by unauthorized tag readers. This allows for privacy issues described as “tracking” and “hot-listing”.

Tracking refers to the ability to track the movements of a book (or person carrying the book) by “correlating multiple observations of the book’s bar code” or RFID tag. Hot-listing refers to the process of building a database of books and their associated tag numbers (the hot-list) and then using an unauthorized reader to determine who is checking out items in the hot-list.

4.6 Reader collision

One problem meet with RFID is the signal from one reader can interfere with the signal from another where coverage overlaps. This is called reader collision. One way to avoid the problem is to use a technique called time division multiple access, or TDMA. In simple terms, the readers are instructed to read at different times, rather than both trying to read at the same time. This ensures that they don’t interfere with each other. But it means any RFID tag in an area where two readers overlap will be read twice.

4.7 Tag collision

Another problem readers have is reading a lot of chips in the same field. Tag clash occurs when more than one chip reflects back a signal at the same time, confusing the reader. Different vendors have developed different systems for having the tags respond to the reader one at a time. Since they can be read in milliseconds, it appears that all the tags are being read simultaneously.

4.8 Lack of Standard

The tags used by library RFID vendors are not compatible even when they conform to the same standards because the current standards only seek electronic compatibility between tags and readers. The pattern of encoding information and the software that processes the information differs from vendor to vendor, therefore, a change from one vendor’s system to the other would require re-tagging all items or modifying the software.

5. Best Practices guidelines for Libraries

As libraries are implementing RFID systems, it is important to develop best practices guidelines to utilize the technology in best way and to keep the privacy concern away. The following may be the best practices guidelines for library RFID use:

· The Library should be open about its use of RFID technology including providing publicly available documents stating the rational for using RFID, objectives of its use and associated policies and procedure and who to contact with questions.

· Signs should be pasted at all facilities using RFID. The signs should inform the public that RFID technology is in use, the types of usage and a statement of protection of privacy and how this technology differs from other information collection methods.

· Only authorized personnel should have access to the RFID system.

· No personal information should be stored on the RFID tag.

· Information describing the tagged item should be encrypted on the tag even if the data is limited to a serial number

· No static information should be contained on the tag (bar code, manufacturer number) that can be read by unauthorized readers.

· All communication between tag and reader should be encrypted via a unique encryption key.

· All RFID readers in the library should be clearly marked.

· ISO 18000 mode-2 tags should be used rather than ISO 15693.

6. Installations

While there are over 500,000 RFID systems installed in warehouses and retail establishments worldwide, RFID systems are still relatively new in libraries. Fewer than 150 had been installed as of the 2004.

Most installations are small, primarily in branch libraries. The University of Connecticut Library; University of Nevada/Las Vegas Library, the Vienna Public Library in Austria, the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, and the National University of Singapore Library are the only sites that appear to have tagged more than 500,000 items each.
So far in India only two University libraries have Installed the RFID system. First among them is Jayakar Library of Pune University and second is Dhanvantri Library of Jammu University. The use of RFID throughout Indian libraries will take at least four to five years.

7. Recent Developments

Recent developments in hardware and software for RFID systems have increased the potential of this technology in library automation and security. ‘Today, the one important result for libraries is the ability to use non-proprietary systems, now that the new generation of RFID-chips with standard ISO 15693 (to be integrated into ISO 18000-3) is available,’ explains Dr Christian Kern, system development manager of Bibliotheca RFID Library Systems, a Swiss company specializing in such systems for libraries. ‘With this technology, libraries do not have to depend on one single supplier for tags. As libraries make a long-term investment, which mainly consists of the quantity of tags needed, this is a very important requirement.’

8. Vendors

The products of six manufacturers of library RFID systems are available in India through their business associates: Bibliotheca, Checkpoint, ID Systems, 3M, X-ident technology GmbH represented by Infotek software and systems in India and TAGSYS— the last represented by Tech Logic, Vernon, Libsys in India and VTLS .

There are several other companies that provide products that work with RFID, including user self-charging stations and materials handling equipment.

Conclusion

It is quite clear from the above discussion that an RFID system may be a comprehensive system that addresses both the security and materials tracking needs of a library. RFID in the library is not a threat if best practices guidelines followed religiously, that it speeds up book borrowing and inventories and frees staff to do more user-service tasks. The technology saves money too and quickly gives a return on investment.

As far as privacy issue is concerned it is important to educate library staff and library users about the RFID technology used in libraries before implementing a program.

It may be good for librarians to wait and watch the developments in RFID for some time before the cost of tags comes down to $.20 or less, the figure which librarians has determined is the key to their serious consideration for the use of technology.

While library RFID systems have a great deal in common with one another, including the use of high frequency (13.56 MHz), passive, read-write tags. Lack of Standard and Compatibility of tags produced by different vendors is a major problem in implementation of RFID in Libraries. Current standards (ISO 15693) apply to container level tagging used in supply chain applications and do not address problems of tracking and hot listing. Next generation tags (ISO 18000) are designed for item level tagging. The newer tags are capable of resolving many of the privacy problems of today’s tags. However, no library RFID products are currently available using the new standard. Apart from that cost of the RFID Tags and equipment is also a major problem for libraries to implement the same in a developing country like India.

Getting Self-Published Books in Libraries

Many authors have misconceptions about libraries. I have spoken to several authors who are resistant to have their books in libraries and will not donate copies. The resistance comes from a fear that people will check out their books for free and thereby hurt their book sales. Other authors do not bother with libraries because they believe self-published books are not accepted by libraries and they don’t want to argue with stereotypically snooty librarians.

Not acting based upon these misconceptions actually results in a loss of book sales for authors. Having a book in the library’s collection is one of the best things an author can do. Numerous advantages result from being in the library, but before authors can take advantage of those benefits, they need to get libraries to put their books on the shelves.

Working with Public Libraries

So how do you get your book in the library? The easiest way is to donate a book to your local public library. I have yet to meet a public library that would not add a donated book to its collection, provided the donation was done through the proper channels. Granted, there may be some exceptions because libraries, big as they often are, do have limited shelf space, so they need to make sure the books they carry will be read by their patrons. That said, if you can get your book on the shelf, you will have made a big step toward marketing your book to potential customers.

The key to donating your book is finding the right librarian to accept it. Do not just go to the circulation desk and say, “Here’s a book for the collection.” The person at the circulation desk is usually not the person who makes decisions about what books go on the shelves. He or she might just add the book to the stack of donated books, many of which end up in the library’s book sales to raise money for the library. Instead, call the library and ask to speak to the librarian in charge of collections. That person is the one in charge of buying books and deciding what books get to be on the shelves. Be prepared to give the person information about your book and offer to stop by or email the person with the book cover image. If you are polite and professional, this librarian may be your foot into the library door. Ask other local authors who the appropriate librarian is and what their dealings have been with that librarian so you are prepared for the reception you might get.

Without being pushy, ask for a little publicity once the librarian agrees to accept your book. If the library is in a smaller town, it may have good connections with the local media. I know one library that even takes photos of authors who donate books and sends them to the local newspaper for publication; this gives you expanded publicity and lets people know the book is at the library. At the very least, libraries will often publish in their newsletters, on their websites, in the local newspaper, or on a local access television channel, books recently added to their collections. Remember, everyone can’t read the same copy of your book at the same time. If a waiting list for your book starts, the library will want to buy more books. (Don’t hesitate to ask all your friends to go to the library and request your book so that waiting list does grow). And the longer that waiting list is, the more likely people won’t wait but just go out to buy your book.

Once your book is in the library, it will be catalogued, and once catalogued, it may end up being listed on WorldCat.org. WorldCat is the world’s largest network of library content and services. Libraries belonging to WorldCat provide access to their resources at which allows people around the world to find your book online. These books are also available for inter-library loan, so if your library is in New Hampshire, someone in Texas might request the book and be able to read it.

So beginning with your own local public library, you can make your book accessible nationwide and even worldwide. But getting your book in the library is not the end result. Now that it is in the library, let people know it’s there. This is your chance to do a little guerrilla marketing. I know one author who, whenever he goes to the library, looks up his book on the library’s computer, then leaves the screen up with his book on it so the next user will see it. He also will look for his book on the shelf, and if it’s not checked out, he will pull it out an inch or two on the shelf so it stands out, or even face it outward so people will see it.

At book signings or book fairs, if people ask whether your book is in the library, go ahead and tell them it is. I know many authors who have had people buy their books after reading them in the library just because they loved a book so much they wanted to own it, or they wanted to give copies as gifts.

Also, now that you have your foot in the door at the library, you can continue to network. Eventually, all the librarians may get to know you. When you go to check out books at the circulation desk, they will be pleased to meet you and they might say, “Oh, so you’re the author. We have a lot of people check out your book.” It’s a good way to find out how popular your book is and to make the librarians remember you.

Be sure to get involved with the library. Libraries today are turning into community centers. They are always doing special programming for their patrons. Offer to give a talk. Help with a conference. Donate your time helping with a book sale. Whatever you can do to get to know the library staff will benefit you. I know many authors whom the library continually calls to do events, give advice, or help them with programming. By assisting with library events, authors become known in the community. Being a volunteer also might make the library willing to repay you by hosting a book release party for your second book. Even if you hold events in other venues, the library will often be willing to put up posters for the event-think how many hundreds or thousands of people visit the library each day who may see those posters.

Beyond your local library, branch out to other libraries in your state. First you might visit libraries in neighboring towns, then work your radius out to the next county. You can drop names of your local librarians with librarians in other towns. Most librarians know each other within their own county or state, so if you have library references, other libraries will be more likely to want to host you for a book signing or talk-and buy your book for their own collections.

Special Interest Libraries

Beyond the public library, many other types of libraries exist whose shelves would be a good home for an author’s book.

Most states have their own state libraries. For example, I know one author who sent copies of his book to the Library of Michigan. The result was, without his asking, he ended up being listed on a brochure the Library of Michigan distributed to libraries statewide featuring Upper Michigan authors.

Your town might have a library for the visually impaired that would be interested in your books-even if you don’t have an actual audio book, many of the new readers, such as Kindle, will read books out loud to people, so let such libraries know your book is available in electronic or audio form.

University libraries might be more particular than local libraries when it comes to taking self-published books, but if you went through that university’s English degree program, or you worked as an assistant at the library when you were in college, or you worked at the local newspaper-whatever you did as a student-see if you have connections that can help you. Wherever you were an alumni, use it to your advantage to get your book in the university library, and also to do events on campus.

If your book is age appropriate, talk to librarians at the local school libraries, either elementary, middle, or high school. Many schools love to have author visits, and depending on your book’s topic, they might have you come in to talk to the students about being an author or about your book’s subject.

Is there a local history museum near you? Then donate a copy of your book to its research library-generations from now, people may be interested in the local author who lived in the town, and if you’ve written a local history book, all the better. I know one author whose local history book is regularly used by the research librarians as a resource they show to their patrons, and many of those patrons then go out and buy the book since they can only use it otherwise in the research library.

Many organizations and centers have libraries-from the local senior center to churches. They are all opportunities to get your book included in their collections as well. Think of places you are involved with and ask other people you know about organizations with library collections and who to talk to in those organizations.

Libraries are Your Best Friends

In short, having your book in a library is one of the best things you can do to promote it and to sell books. Be friends with your local librarians and you will get local community recognition that in time can become national and then worldwide. And remember, every library is different and has different policies and different staff. Just because one library says “No” to you doesn’t mean another library will. Keep at it and you’ll find your book on more library shelves than you anticipated when you began.

Marketing Public Library Services in Sierra Leone

Introduction

The concept of instituting marketing principles to non-profit institutions such as library and information Services is no longer a controversy. Organizations operate in an environment of change. Today we live in a global market for many goods and services in which technology, purchasing power and many factors change on a regular basis. One of the key functions of marketing is to find out how these changes affect clientele’s wants and needs and to develop organizational strategies and plans that will ensure that the library meets these challenges (Dransfield and Needham, 1995). It is therefore not surprising that public librarians are joining the marketing bandwagon. This article explores the marketing activities in the operations of the Sierra Leone Public Library services.

Public Libraries

A Public Library is funded wholly and partly from public funds and the use of which is not restricted to any class persons in the community but freely available to all. It is a major agency of enlightenment for adults, providing for children the recorded experiences of others which will help them grow into adults.

Usherhood (1981) defined Public Library as an organization established, supported and funded by the community, either through local, regional or national government or through some form of or other community organization. It provides access to knowledge, information and works of imagination through a range of resources and services and equally available to members of the public community regardless of race, nationality, economic and employment status and educational attainment.

The Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB)

The Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB) was established by Ordinance in June, 1959. The setting up of the Board was envisaged in the Government’s White Paper on Educational Development in 1958 and its functions outlined therein as follows:

• To provide a national/public library Service;
• To support and reinforce program of adult and fundamental education;
• To provide effective services for children and young adults including requisite services to schools;
• To provide much needed information and references services;
• To provide where needed adequate services for special groups, that is women and girls, language groups.

The Central Library is designed to give public services to Freetown and also to function as headquarter of the National/Public Library services and to provide accommodation for a growing collection of book and non-book materials in the country. It does all technical processing of stock for the Regional and Branch Libraries and has an Adult Lending Reference and a Children’s department.

Libraries are charged with responsibility to provide information service to support educational, recreation and personal endeavors of the members of their respective communities and the Sierra Leone Library Board is not an exception to that. The following services are provided at the Sierra Leone Library Board to Clientele:

Children Services

The Sierra Leone Library Board provides information services to children by the provision of books and other materials for children which are often housed in a special section known as the Children’s Library. A special service for children known as child orientated educational program specially designed for younger library users is included in the children’s library services. They also provide services to children through storytelling, drama/play and reading aloud.

Book Borrowing and Lending Service

The main task of Sierra Leone Library Board is to provide the public with access to books and periodicals. The Sierra Leone Library Board typically offers access to a variety of books which are available for borrowing by anyone with the appropriate library card.

Current Awareness Service

At the Sierra Leone Library Board, current awareness service is aimed at bringing to the notice of potential users, newly available documents and information services. This is done by collating information and producing new secondary sources, circulating current periodicals or other documents acquired and producing and distributing one or more forms of bulletins.

Selective Dissemination of Information

A more personal information service is being run at the Sierra Leone Library Board in which the library constantly notifies library users about particular information/materials matching them in a profile of the information needs and research pre-occupation of their clientele. This is done by either bringing references to relevant items to the notice of their clients and by obtaining copies and then supply the documents themselves to library users.

Outreach Services

The Sierra Leone Library Board provides outreach information services which is committed to developing library outreach program for non-users, the undeserved, and people with special needs in the communities in restricted areas.

Computer and Internet Services

In an attempt to bridge the digital divide, information resources and government services are being provided online by the Sierra Leone Library Board. This is done by providing access to the Internet and public computers for users who otherwise would not be able to connect to these services.

Library Marketing

Marketing is often viewed as a set of strategies and techniques that belongs to administrators outside of librarianship. But, librarians are also involved in the marketing process. The essence of marketing involves finding out users needs and want, then setting out to meet these needs.

Marketing according to Weingand (1995) “can be viewed as a process of exchange and a way to foster partnership between the library and its community” (p.296). In order to maintain the relationship between the public library and the community, marketing strategies have to be employed as effective tool.

Marketing in the public library means more than simply promotion or selling. It is more concerned about user needs. Marketing the Public Library is a social and managerial process by which products and services as well as values are exchanged in order to fulfill individuals or group needs. Marketing refers to those instruments through which information, both raw and processed, are transmitted to its members. Promotion or campaigning is but two activities in the broader exercise of marketing

Planning Library Marketing Program

The continued existence of libraries, if not their survivals, may well depend upon the use of marketing and planning strategies, communicated through effective public relations, to significantly alter the perceived role and position of the library in society.

In a real sense, Public Relation is the promotion component of a full marketing plan of library program. It can be seen as the communicated module which serves the promotion function; conversely, it may be easily depicted as a philosophical relationship between library and community which serves as a guiding light for promotion activities.

Both communication and research skills serve well in the marketing planning process of which Public Relations is an important component. Specific skills and knowledge are also needed in marketing planning programs for libraries. It goes without saying that both ongoing marketing planning and programs, and in particular, how the needs of different groups of users differ from each other. Library and information services are complex entities, as are the human users and potential users of these services.

Planning, promotion and campaigning are but all activities in the boarder exercise of marketing. User studies therefore, have a very wide range of uses in relation to the planning of library marketing programs of a service. They contribute in the planning, promotion and development of library services. In their contribution they help in the understanding of different user group behavior and their needs, and can assist in effective campaigning and planning process.

Three steps to planning library marketing programs are:

• Knowing what your beliefs are and therefore what you want to achieve;
• Communicating these beliefs as practical objectives to the people with whom you work, in order that these objectives can be fulfilled; and
• Creating a vehicle which allows this to happen. This can only be achieved by defining the basic components and through organization.

Methods of marketing in Sierra Leone Library Board

Book Displays and Exhibitions

Displays and exhibitions are widely used in most public libraries as a marketing strategy to sell their products or items. The SLLB displays jackets of new books which are not yet included in the lending department for easy access by users and to increase usage. It is also a means of drawing the attention of users and non-users to particular aspects of library resources and services.

Printed materials and Publications

In order to make a very good image of the public library and for public librarians to establish better communication between the library and users, publicity programs are put in place by the management of the Sierra Leone Library Board through news release. The management also considers annual reports and newspapers as basic publicity techniques. Publications such as bibliographies, guides and brochures are used by the library to communicate with the wider public.

Public Relations Office

Public relations according to Usherhood (1981) is concerned with gaining of public support for an activity, cause, movement or institution. It is a process that furthers mental understanding and cooperation between a government; or any organization and its various public. The Sierra Leone Library Board has a Public Relations Office charged with the responsibility to enhance a smooth system of communication.

User Education/Readers Advisory Service

This could be described as training a group of users in the effective use of the library and its resources. It is used to stimulate the users to make greater use of the library and introduces library staff to clientele who might be reluctant to seek their assistance. This is the principal means through which library staff can learn about readers’ needs, opinions and habits. Good communication with readers enables staff to inform and influence readers.

The Media

These involve printed and audio-visual forms of communication and any necessary equipment to render them usable. The Press, radio and television are important means of publicizing information service, since they offer potential of reaching many people from all walks of life. The media are cultivated so that messages are distributed with regularity. Publicity mechanism such as news releases, special events and brochures can also be employed.

The Social Media Groups (SMG)

The Sierra Leone Library Board makes use of the Social media groups such as ‘Facebook’ and ‘Watsapp’ as an effective way for publicity in order to put their messages across to users of their services.

Challenges of Marketing Library and Information Services at the SLLB

A lot of challenges have militated against the effective planning and implementation of library marketing programs at SLLB. The following are some of the challenges:

• Inadequate Staff: Although staff numbers have been maintained, the ratio of professional staff is very low. The library is manned mostly by paraprofessionals who mostly lack the skills to plan and implement marketing programs.

• Finance: The library depends heavily on government subsidy. The government has no specific or substantial funds for the running of the library thus the library administration has to foot most of the bills that have to do with marketing. The irregular flow of funds has served as a barrier to the progress of marketing library and information services at the SLLB.

• Lack of standard printed materials and publications: The SLLB lacks most standard printed materials and publications due to poor planning of marketing programs. This negligence has made the library handicapped of public relations tools in the form of printed materials and publications such as newsletters, questionnaires, diaries and calendars.

• Displays are improper and exhibitions seem almost absent: The library depends mostly on donations and most of the books are acquired without jackets. Therefore displaying book jackets in inconsistent. In fact exhibition programs are yet to survive as they are only recently introduced. The library lacks relevant display and exhibition materials to mount these activities.

• Inability to organize frequent Radio Programs: The SLLB lacks media communication facilities. The library cannot frequently organize radio programs on its own because of lack of funds. The absence of radio programs stands out as an acute problem to the progress of marketing programs in the library.

Conclusively, marketing is the instrument that libraries use to transform their aims and objectives into operational plans of action. In most developing countries’ public libraries such as the SLLB, marketing strategies cannot operate properly due to the existence of bottlenecks in planning programs. Good marketing programs actualize the plans and measures necessary for the achievement of goals and objectives.

Building the Professional Library Infrastructure in Sierra Leone

Introduction

Developing countries are characterized in one way by shrinking economies. Sierra Leone is one such country that despite government and donor support, education has been a major challenge. The situation has been worsened, due to the fact that libraries have been neglected. According to the African Development Bank (ADB) Sierra Leone Country Office (2011), the total funds provided for education by the ADB/ADF finances up to 2010, was about US$ 22 million. The project supported the construction of Ninety Eight (98) primary schools, Fifty Four (54) Junior Secondary Schools (JSS), Eight (8) Vocational Skills Training Centres and Twelve (12) duplex housing blocks for teachers. The project also provided training for Four Thousand and Fifty (4,050) teachers. Teacher manuals were also made available. However, nothing was ever made available for library development. This neglect of libraries, means that libraries in Sierra Leone with limited resources, have to work together in order to meet the information needs of their users. One library may not be able to effectively and suitably meet the information needs of all its users. Library cooperation is therefore, urgently needed.

Library Scene in Sierra Leone

The country has all the different types of libraries; they range from public, academic, special to school libraries. In addition to these are information and resource or documentation centres that provide library and information services. Furthermore, there are museums, such as the National and the Peace Museums, and the National Archive which also provide information services.

However, the Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB) which was established by an Act of Parliament in 1959 serves as the domain of the provision of library and information services in the country. It functions as both the National and a Public library. To date it has a Central library and headquarters located in Freetown, Regional branches in Provincial headquarter towns, and branches in all District towns, totaling twenty one (21) libraries [One (1) central and headquarter library, three (3) regional libraries, sixteen (16) branch libraries, and two (2) sub-branches].

Libraries in Sierra Leone are therefore, institutions for the storage and dissemination of information; are for users; they provide users with guides and other finding lists; they provide adequate access to the documents or records users may wish to consult; they have subject arrangement; and they are cost-effective.

Library Cooperation

The term cooperation describes the joint action of two or more parties for mutual benefit. Library cooperation means exchanging cataloguing records, building complementary collections, exchanging library materials by inter-library loan and document delivery service, joint purchasing of library materials or automated system, providing services to each others’ users. Library cooperation is also described as an agreement, combination, or group of libraries formed to undertake an enterprise beyond the resources of any one member.

There are different types of cooperative activities and some of the most popular activities are reciprocal borrowing, union catalogues or lists, photocopying services, cooperative reference service, delivery services, cooperative acquisition arrangements, subject specialization in collection development, centralized cataloguing and card production, as well as central storage of materials.

Burgett, Harr and Phillips (2004) asserted that there is evidence that cooperation among libraries to share resources goes back to a long way, at least to the first half of the 13th century, when monasteries developed what we would today recognize as union catalogs of manuscripts to aid in their scholarly activities. Musana (1991) indicated that information resource sharing has been in existence as long as libraries and other types of information services. The existence of a library is itself a form of cooperation. Many libraries came into existence because a group of individuals with a common desire and aspiration wanted to put a collection of materials together for use by the group members. Historically, the driving force behind the evolution of resource sharing concept was the desire to satisfy the felt needs of the user population. Earlier, each library was an entity, serving or trying to serve the needs of its own users and purchasing materials to meet their primary needs.

Beenham and Harrison (1990) however noted that a combination of circumstances made it increasingly difficult for an individual library to be self-sufficient. These circumstances include:

a tremendous increase in knowledge and a corresponding growth in publishing;

the spread of education from primary to university level which lead to greater and more diverse demands on the public library services by a much more literate public;

the advance of technology with its effect on industry and commerce and the necessity for employers and employees to develop new skills and techniques; and

increased opportunities for travel and international economic cooperation, which demand up-to-date information about foreign countries.

Existing Library Cooperation in Sierra Leone

There has been increased pressure for libraries in Sierra Leone to cooperate, including plans to create networks thereby making way for resources to be available to users. As such what has obtained is as follows:

Lending of materials – libraries lend materials to each other officially and unofficially to help their users;

Donations – large libraries donate to smaller libraries materials mostly books for their users;

Photocopying – these are available in most libraries. The lending library will copy the needed material and send a copy to the requesting library without having to send the original;

Exchange of cataloguing data – cataloguing data is given to other libraries. The Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB) provides its data to school libraries that cannot do this technical work properly.

There have been some benefits with these kinds of cooperation existing in the country:

Availability and access to information – there has been significant reach to information by users, since other libraries’ resources can be tapped from;

Lower cost – funds are saved due mainly to the fact that some expensive materials are not purchased as long as they are accessed in another library;

Experience sharing – the exchanging of staff and information provides a platform for learning from each other, especially with cataloguing data; and

Collection development – each library tends to build its collection to the maximum point, narrowing the focus, and at the end building a strong collection.

Notwithstanding, the real benefits that such cooperation should bring about have not been fully realized. Thus, there are certain steps that libraries should take to make this workable.

Building the Infrastructure of Cooperation

The following are essential steps to be taken into account for an efficient cooperation between libraries in Sierra Leone if significant achievements are to be made.

Ensure common understanding and trust. There must be an established better working relationship among and between libraries where common understanding and trust are built up. A continued interaction and exposure of one another resources must be maintained. This can be done by sharing of expertise and experience, signing of Memoranda of Understanding, dialogue to allay fears, and to respect what each party can offer. Exchange of staff if necessary must be done.

Learn from advanced libraries. Furthermore, lessons can be learn from how other national and international cooperation is being conducted. Cooperation is not a day event but something that must be encouraged and built upon. There must be room for trial and error as well as correction of past mistakes.

Management must provide the leadership. Each library management must take upon itself to lead the process successfully. There must be the political will and the willingness to share resources, as well as prioritizing the move towards cooperation. Management must be willing to make positive compromises to reach the desired goal.

Networking and collaboration. The move towards cooperation should not be a one man show. Cooperation can consist of voluntary agreement among libraries, or it can be imposed on libraries by Library Laws or by responsible ministries that fund libraries. It is essential that the participant libraries be willing to work together towards common goals.

Provision of funds. One of the benefits of cooperation is to save cost. However, every library must provide funds for the processes involved. This is particularly so for processing and technical services functions. These must be taken care by individual libraries. As such funding should be provided.

State intervention. In the context of the developing countries state intervention would be called for to enable coordination of a nation’s total library and information resources and ensure adequate funding. This is particularly important given that on the whole libraries in Sierra Leone do not have large enough capital base of their own to invest in such equipment as computer hardware and software, and telecommunications. However, state control must not be allowed to exceed co-ordination as this may to some extent have an effect on the zeal, initiative and the goodwill of participating libraries, institutions and the individual professionals.

The Challenges in Building the Infrastructure of Cooperation

In spite of the benefits accrued in cooperation, there are real and perceived challenges, which, unless properly dealt with, could minimize the chances of even the best conceived scheme taking off. In Sierra Leone, these are:

Overcoming the culture of hoarding – the culture of greed and selfishness that has eaten up the very fabric of society. This has affected even library practice. Libraries are to amass information for the general good of the society.

Limited collections – where participating libraries have not built up their collection to a minimum standard to allow for exchange, they are to grow their collections to some measurable status to ensure fair participation.

ICTs infrastructure – the marked lack of sufficient Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is a worrisome issue for cooperation in this 21st century.
Purchasing and installation of ICTs is very crucial, as well as the education and training of staffs for use.

Staffing – some of the participating libraries have untrained and unqualified staff as a major obstacle. Also, most staff are concerned about their status, efficiency, job security, salaries, and autonomy or independence, and this has affected the synergy. If the fears of staff are to be dispelled through proper sensitization and education, capacity building also must be undertaken.

Management – management must take decisive steps towards cooperation.

In conclusion, information to libraries is as money to banks; it is an indispensable input in the development process of the nation. However, to be effective it has to be optimally available and accessible from every corner if possible. Library cooperation if properly planned and executed offers a solution to a lot of problems faced by libraries, librarians and other information professionals in developing countries as Sierra Leone. Valls (1983) has provided the last words, “cooperation between information centres and the co-ordination of efforts needed to efficiently share resources implies the existence of an infrastructure linking the centres to one another.” This library infrastructure must be built up as it would assist in fostering self-help, exchange information, change society, improve productivity and work life, and share resources.

Bringing Out the Best in Professional Library Staff in Sierra Leone

Introduction

Bringing out the best from library staff has been an issue for the proper functioning of librarians in Sierra Leone (SL). Librarians, according to Crosby (2008) are information experts in the Information Age. Their expertise in the handling of information has not been seen or realized, even though these professionals have been around for a long time. Librarians and information professionals have not attained the status and position they should rightly occupy in society. In most Ministries, Departments and Government Agencies (MDAs), where information handling and records keeping are key functions, librarians, records managers and information professionals have not been employed to do these jobs. Instead, other professionals, mostly people with accounting and business management backgrounds have been employed. In essence, the work of librarians has not been so much felt and appreciated.

Library and information services in Sierra Leone

Information is a fundamental asset for any society to thrive well in this 21st century. It is the tool by which learning takes place and decisions are made. It provides the needed answers to people’s requests and longings from all walks of life. Therefore, the provision of library and information services to all is indisputable. Almost all types of libraries exist in SL, because no individual library can provide all the information needed by every potential user. In this regard, different libraries exist to serve different users and their needs.

The Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB) serves as both the National and Public library in the country. There are mainly nine (9) Academic libraries scattered throughout the country, all of these are found in the tertiary institutions (Universities, Colleges, Institutes and Teacher Training Colleges) providing higher education. School libraries are found in most Primary, Junior and Senior Secondary Schools. However, a vast majority of these are not functional. Special libraries are found in MDAs, private companies and individual established libraries. In addition to these are research and documentation centres, such as the Medical Research Centre; Information Resource centres, such as that established by the Embassy of the United States of America; and many small community information centres. These information centres are widely used by information seekers due to the main fact that they provide online services for almost free of charge.

The SLLB serves as the pivotal point for the provision of library and information services in the country. It is open to all: professionals, academics, researchers, students, pupils and for all children. There also, the general populace information needs are catered for. All of these are geared towards meeting our societal needs for information, education, research, entertainment and leisure activities.

Staff in libraries and information service institutions in Sierra Leone

There are two broad classes of staff employed in our libraries as is the case for libraries all over the world: those involved in library and information work, and those who provide back-up services. Library and information staff functions at different levels from non-professional, Para-professional, professional, specialists to managerial. At the support level, there are also manual/care taking staff, clerical/secretarial, technical and computer staff, and specialist staff. These all play a part in providing the information that users’ desire.

Library staff should function above the normal information provision role. Other important functions are:

I. Guide – providing physical, technical and intellectual guides to information resources in various formats;
ii. Collaborate – with others, known users as well as users who come for some manner of services over and over again, and even remote users;
iii. Prioritize – be flexible in performing new functions in order to incorporate new demands in procedures, structures and directions;
iv. Empower – delegate responsibility thereby empowering colleagues; and
v. Understand core capabilities – of the library, its environment, colleagues and most importantly the users.

Training library staff in Sierra Leone

The Institute of Library, Information and Communication Studies (INSLICS), Fourah Bay College (FBC), University of Sierra Leone (USL), is where Librarians and Information Professionals are trained and equipped for the world of work. INSLICS comprises two divisions that offer two distinct programs: the Divisions of Mass Communication and Library, Archive and Information Studies respectively. The Mass Communication Division offers academic courses in the art and science of human communication and prepares students for career opportunities in public information services, print media, broadcast media, public relations, film production, advertising, marketing, advocacy and related fields. While the Division of Library, Archive and Information Studies caters for the professional training of librarians, records managers, archivists and information scientists to manage libraries, resource centres, information centres and related activities.

The Division of Library, Archive and Information Studies was formally established in 1986. It aims to provide for the training and education of Librarians, Archivists, and Information Scientists at a variety of levels, for those employed in both professional and non-professional capacities in Libraries, Archive Departments and Information Centres. Within the USL it is the particular mission of the Division of Library, Archive and Information Studies to educate men and women for professional careers as librarians and information specialists and to foster research and service programs relating to society’s library and information needs.

Its goals are:

I. To furnish students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are basic to professional competence and career-long professional growth in the field of library and information services;
II. To expand the knowledge base of the profession through research; and
III. To share its resources by extending services within and beyond SL.

The Division currently offers the following courses:

1. Special Certificate in Library, Archive and Information Studies – this is a one year full-time course and is ideally suited to those with some experience of library and information work, who wish to receive training in basic library/information skills;

2. Diploma in Library, Archive and Information Studies – a two-year full-time course for those who may have some experience of library work and who hope to hold a Para-professional position in a library/information centre or archive in the future;

3. Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Library, Archive and Information Studies – a four-year full-time course;

4. Post-Graduate Diploma in Library, Archive and Information Studies – a one-year program for graduates;

5. Master of Philosophy in Library, Archive and Information Studies – a two-year program, i.e. one year taught program and one year research.

The challenge for library staff

The challenges facing library staff in SL are numerous. Among them, the following are worth mentioning: low wages, limited capacity, no proper networking, poor infrastructure, users’ ignorance and the polemics of status.

The challenge of users’ ignorance

An anonymous writer once wrote that “A library is a hospital for the mind.” This means that the librarian is the trained doctor or nurse to administer treatment to every sick mind. This also means that the user who needs information is the sick mind that really needs treatment from the librarian. This is the ideal case, but not the pragmatic one. For every Sierra Leonean needs information for survival and growth; but going to the library is the major barrier. This is due to the fact that many are not well informed that the library exists to provide the daily information they want. As such there are libraries with information and knowledge to help people, but these people are unaware of going there for such help. It is therefore the responsibility of library staff to make people become aware that the library can meet their daily information needs. They must find ways and means to reach out to the public. Two important ways for every library are through the public relations and marketing library and information services.

The challenge of the polemics of status

Wilson (1982) stated that librarians have long exhibited a curious, and intense, status anxiety that is reflected in the endless polemics about the professional status (or lack thereof) among them. Librarianship should be one of those professions seeking a conspicuous status in the market. As Harris (1995) mentioned, since the inception of the idea of a ‘library’ in the United States, and more significantly, since the middle of the 19th century, librarians and friends of libraries have been debating the proper role of the library profession. Librarianship is one of those professions that impinge on the very survival of any society. The Librarian commands a unique status parallel with traditional professions in SL. If we can accept the saying that “knowledge itself is a form of power,” then the Librarian is the controller of that power. He is the custodian of the nation’s knowledge base.

A redefinition of the library profession and the librarian in developing countries is urgently needed. Just as how Huttemann (1985) mentioned that “self-sustaining and self-reliant Pan-African economic growth needs to develop its natural and human resources.” So the work and role of librarians are keys for SL to realize her much envisaged economic growth and prosperity. As Huttemann further stated that the promotion of socioeconomic and cultural development can be conducted properly only if it is supported by sound information and documentation services needed for sectors like education, health services, agriculture, industry and trade alike. In essence, it is a matter of must that librarians should be in the business of accessing, organizing, storing and disseminating information where and when needed.
It is also crystal clear that librarians must question the definition they have accepted. A thorough understanding of their role is a sine qua non for a clearer view. They must come forward with the goal of helping society to understand that they exist to provide information for survival and growth. This goal, as insisted by Bundy and Wasserman (1968) and Harris, Hannah and Harris (1998) must be to forge a new professional identity.

Librarianship, according to Taylor (1980), is the profession that is concerned with the systematic organization of knowledge in all its various formats and its dissemination for the purpose of preserving society’s cultural heritage, promoting scholarship and the generation of new knowledge. However, this definition is far-fetched to the common understanding of many Sierra Leoneans. The general view is of some persons sitting behind many books in large stalks of shelves and waiting for patrons to come and request for assistance. For long librarians in SL have been labeled as “book keepers” and jobs for those teachers who have been left out unnoticeable by the school curriculum. The profession itself has long been battling with Public Relations (PR). As Mchombu (1985) put it ” In most developing countries, the percentage of population which are active library users is still very low… it is, therefore, important to encourage many more people from all walks of life to increase their use of Libraries so that existing information resources can be fully exploited” (p.115). In essence, as Mchombu further asserted library staff can no longer afford to sit and wait for a few enlightened readers to come to them, they must be more aggressive, be prepared to go out and search for and encourage all potential readers to come to the library because it has information which can be applied to what they are doing to improve final results.

To this, librarians must ensure that they emphasis on creating value from know-how and expertise. Bell (1973) has long since made this clarion call that the central figure in the post-industrial society will be the information professional. For as Bell insisted what counts is not raw muscle power, or energy, but information. The central person is the professional, for he is equipped, by his education and training, to provide the kinds of skill that is increasingly demanded in the post-industrial society.

Bringing out the best in library staff

The library profession must be able to overcome its challenges. A sure way of doing this is to motivate every library staff. When library staff are properly motivated, the best from them can be realized. Library managers should as a matter of must, make motivation for staff an issue of importance. Motivating staff in any organization is probably the most difficult task of the manager. Not only do people react differently to the same stimuli but the motivation process is quite complex. It is concerned with those factors that stimulate human behavior, how behavior is directed, and how it can be maintained. Staff can seem at times to behave illogically, perversely and unpredictably. Contrary to the belief of some, the good management of staff is not just a matter of common sense. To manage staff requires a formal effort to grasp these influences so that our individual attitudes can be controlled and developed to meet the day to day staff situation in a way in which common sense will have difficulty (Shimmon, 1976).

It is particularly important that the manager of a service organization like a library/information unit makes this effort for two reasons: Firstly, his product, being service is closely linked with the attitudes of serving staff themselves and it is not possible by inspection to reveal a faulty service in the easy way that faulty materials can be detected; and secondly, the cost of labor is likely to continue rising at a greater rate than that of the manager’s other main tools, machinery and materials, and he must therefore use the staff he really does need to best advantage (Webb, 1985). Some of the staff may be motivated by money and what it will buy, others by achieving ever higher services year after year, and some by the “thrill of the change.” Thus the manager, will need to address motivation in some depth by studying speculations such as organizational theory and behavior.

The challenge for bringing out the best

Someone has said unofficially that Sierra Leoneans naturally are not difficult to please. Sierra Leoneans are generally motivated when the two lowest layers of Maslow’s pyramid are satisfied. One of the basic problems in this society is a good remuneration package that can take care of the basic needs of people. In this part of the world five basic needs are evident: food, shelter, clothing, transportation and medical. If attention is paid to these needs for every library staff, we have solved much of the problems affecting them and we are on the verge of getting the best from them.

So a good package must contain basic pay and allowances that will cover rent, transportation, and medical. The Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) announced minimum wage pay is Five Hundred Thousand Leones (SLL 500,000.00), placing it at Eighty United Dollars (US$ 80) at the current exchange rate (2016). This will not provide the good pay that librarians will want to work for. The rising cost of basic necessities, particularly food items, due to inflation in the country, means that this minimum wage is not encouraging. Therefore libraries must ensure that they go two times beyond this minimum wage pay in order to meet their staff basic need.

Furthermore, staff should be sent to the library school for training and development. Longer-serving staff without qualifications can be encouraged to do certificate programs. Reference and other professional librarians are to be sent for refresher courses and exchange programs for capacity development.

Conclusively, the best from library staff can be enhanced if the challenges facing them are dealt with and if they are properly motivated. Among the several challenges, user ignorance and the polemics of status are to be surmounted by librarians. Furthermore, they should be fairly motivated to take on their proper roles. In this sense, their remuneration packages as well as encouragement for career developments and training must be attended to. The library school should help in this direction.

Charging or Issues Systems in Special Libraries in Sierra Leone

Introduction

Special libraries are collections that exist to serve the specific needs of their clients. The libraries are varied as their needs. However, the libraries do have common elements in the service that they provide, their focused collections and their knowledgeable staff who are able to adapt to the changing needs of their clients base. The phrase “Special libraries” is a misnomer, because all libraries are special and have commonalities in their functions. This statement does not dispute the fact that some libraries have special concerns-be they of their clientele, their collections or their purpose. A standard definition of a special library would be the one that exist to serve the limited needs of a specific entity- a business, industry, government agency, non-profit group or professional organizations. Also included are subject oriented units of a public or academic library (Beenham and Harrison, 1990).

The collection of special libraries is smaller and tends to be more focused in comparison to public and academic libraries. Special libraries have the tools and the people necessary to make information available to the client because it is not just enough to collect and house information. It must be made accessible to users. A Special library in short is particularized information services which correlates, interprets and utilizes the materials at hand for the constant use and benefit of the organization it serves (Chirgwin and Oldfield, 1982).

The over-riding requirement of the Special library is that it should provide current information that enables research workers and other employers to carry out their duties effectively. Therefore, it provides not only a collection of materials for which is known demand, but also a network of services that make information readily available for a variety of outside sources.

Previously, the provision of books and other materials for purposes of research had been considered of paramount importance. With the dramatic increase in the number of post-war student in Sierra Leone, it came to be more generally accepted that a university library should aim to serve the needs of their main categories of readers; namely, the undergraduate research worker, and the academic staff.

Definition of Charging or Issues System

According to Berkett and Ritiche (1977), the recording of the loan of materials is called charging or issuing. The charging method selected by a particular library depends to a large extent on the library’s clientele, the size of the stock and the need to restrict the number of items which a library member may have on loan, and on whether the library has peak periods for the lending and returning of materials. The choice of methods will also be affected by the amount and type of information the library staff requires the issue to furnish.

The purpose of a circulation system is to give the library users as much access as possible to the stock. Unfortunately, a book loaned to one reader is not available to others and certain restrictions have to be made. For instance an Encyclopedia is a compendium of knowledge on a vast number of subjects and is designed for easy reference rather than for continuous reading. Allowing such a book on loan would inconvenience a great number of library users without benefiting the borrower.
Each library will use a system for recording the books and other items it lends to its readers. There have been many modern developments to record issues in the last thirty years, mainly due to high cost of staffing, increased usage, and in search of better all-round efficiency. There is no one all-purpose systems which will meet the demands of all kinds of library, although the latest computer charging system can cope with many aspects speedily.

A good system should enable the library staff to discover which reader has borrowed which book. It should show when books are due for return and which are overdue. Some systems can control the number of books issued, and particularly the number which each reader has borrowed. The better systems will permit the book is renewed without returning the book in person, and should allow readers to reserve books which are not immediately available.

Charging or Issues System in Libraries

The Circulation department is the area where most patrons are used to because it is here that library materials are loaned out and returned after use, and it is sometimes referred to as the leading or take home department. Records of patrons are kept here after they have completed a necessary form that provides personal information about them, that is, name, address, sex, status and guarantor. Some departments have different cards for different categories of users to complete. The following functions are however performed by circulation department:
• Registration of new users and keeping the records of library patrons;
• Keeping records of borrowed materials and those returned;
• Noting down when borrowed materials are due back in the library;
• Keeping statistics of the department;
• Sending overdue notices to patrons who fail to return their books when due (Nwogu, 1991).

Types of Charging or Issue Systems used in Libraries

As has been said, one of the principal services offered by libraries is the lending of books and others materials. Obviously, libraries need to keep some kind of record of such loan transactions and many methods have been devised to regulate this task. These methods are known as Charging or Issuing methods. The charging method selected by a particular library depends to a large extent on the library’s clientele, the size of stock and the need to restrict the number of items which a library member may have on loan and on whether the library has peak periods for the lending and returning of material. Here are some examples of charging methods used in varied types of libraries.

The Browne System: For many, many years the most commonly used charging method is the Browne system. With this system, a membership application form is filled in and the reader is given a number of tickets bearing his or her name and address. The reader presents the books to be borrowed at the issue desk, along with a reader’s ticket for each book. The date label in each book is stamped with the date of return; the book card is removed from each book and inserted into the reader’s tickets (one book card per ticket). The charge therefore is one book card inserted into one ticket. When the book is returned, the assistant will look inside it to ascertain from the date label, or pocket, the accession number/author/class number as well as the due date. The appropriate charge is then removed from the issue, the book card replaced in the book pocket and the ticket returned to the reader.

The Islington system: In this charging system, each reader is given one plastic ticket on which is embossed his or her name and address. The stationery inside the library books is the same as the Browne system. However, the difference lies in the fact that the reader must print an address slip (using an embossed ticket) for each book he or she wishes to borrow. Therefore the ‘charge’ is a book card plus a paper address slip inside a blank ticket.

Ticket book or Cheque book charging: In this method, each book has a book pocket permanently fixed inside the cover on which details of the book are given. Within this book pocket is a plain pocket, inside which is a book card bearing details of the book. The reader need only insert one of his or her ticket slip into the plain pocket and present the book for date stamping. The assistant removes the ‘charge’ and it is subsequently filed. The issue trays are usually kept in a separate ‘discharge room’ and not at the issue desk. There is a reception desk where the books are returned, the actual discharging being done later in the ‘discharging room’ when the charge is removed from the issue, the reader’s ticket destroyed and the plain pocket and book card returned to the book. An additional ‘cheque book’ is issued to the reader whenever the previous one is used up.

Token Charging: The book date label is stamped in the usual way, and the reader must surrender one token for each book being issued. On returning the books, the reader merely receives the appropriate number of tokens in exchange. At the end of each year the reader must be able to produce the full complement of tokens or pay a replacement cost for any which have been lost. A visible index (that is a list of reserved books which must be checked whenever books are returned) is used for reservations.

Punched card charging: when a book is borrowed, the assistant takes two punched cards, pre-dated with date due for return (both punched and dated stamped), places the two punched cards in an automatic key punched machine and punches on both cards the reader’s number and book accession number and class number. One card is retained as the library’s record of loans; the other card is inserted in the book pocket with the date of return clearly visible. The punched cards are removed from returned books, sorted into accession number order by machine, and then matched by machine with the duplicate cards kept as the library’s record of loans. Unmatched cards represents books still out on loan and these can be refilled mechanically, this time in date order to reveal overdue.

Computerized Issuing System: Computer systems now available in libraries are very advanced indeed. The issue terminal is equipped with a data pen to which may be attached a self-inking date stamp. There is a card holder into which the reader’s ticket is inserted. Charging is accomplished by running the data pen horizontally across the bar code on the reader’s ticket and the across the barcode labels on the books to be borrowed. The date labels in the book are stamped with the date of return and the ticket is returned to the reader. The discharge terminal is also equipped with another data pen and this is used to read the books’ bar code labels when they are returned. The reader’s ticket is not required at this stage as the reader’s name will be automatically deleted from the computer records when all books are have been returned (Beenham, and Harrison 1990).

Charging or Issue System at the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences Library

The College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) was founded on the 12th April, 1988 by the Government of Sierra Leone in Co-operation with the Nigerian government and the World Health Organization (WHO). With the enactment and coming into effect of the 2005 University Act, which led to the creation of two universities in Sierra Leone, College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences as a constituent arm of the University of Sierra Leone, in cooperation with the National School of Nursing, which is now a faculty and the Pharmacy Technician School, also part of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences library started a few months after the college was established in 1988. The library was first located at Bass Street, in Brookfields and later transferred to New England in Freetown, from where it was finally transferred to the Connaught Hospital, when the Ministry of Health gave up the building it used to occupy as a library.

The College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences library was started by a Medical Librarian by the name of Nancy M’Jamtu-Sie in 1988. The library holds the main stock of Medical and Health Sciences materials in the University of Sierra Leone. The library depends solely on donations and it operates on three sites: the main Medical library at the Connaught Hospital which houses the library administrative office, short loan, reference, World Health Organization audio cassettes collection; the CD-ROM and Internet facilities, the multidisciplinary library at the National School of Nursing, houses the general collection and as well as short loan and reference books and the Medical Sciences library at the Kossoh Town Campus.

The mission of College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences is: “to train community-oriented doctors, pharmacists, nurses, laboratory scientists, and the health personnel with sound professional and managerial skills suitably qualified to meet international standards and capable to undertake research and pursue training in specialized areas for health care delivery services.”

The College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences practices the Browne Issue System mentioned above, which is practiced in most libraries especially Special libraries found in the University of Sierra Leone. With the Browne Charging or Issuing system at the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences library, each library book has a book card which is kept in a pocket inside each book. The card identifies each book by recording, usually the accession number, classification number, author and short title. Each reader has a ticket issued to him/her which indicates the name and address. This reader’s ticket holds the book card, which is taken from the pocket in the book, and this forms the record of the issue. Each book is stamped with the date for return and the issue is filed in trays under the date due for return, and within what date probably by accession number.

When the readers return the book, the date due for stamped on the date label locates the correct date among the issue trays and the accession number printed on the date label should find the correct position within that date. The book card is then returned to the book, which is now ready for shelving and the reader recovers his tickets. Overdue books are self-evident since the trays are in date order, and reservation are made searching the appropriate care in an obvious way. The Brown system is simply operated and easily understood by library staff and readers alike.
Clientele or Users of College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences Library

A clientele in library is a body of customers or patrons that makes use of a library in order to get needed information. The clientele of a library are highly knowledgeable group. Consequently, the emphasis of the library is on maintaining considerable depth of subject material or supplying information to be in print.All members of the University of Sierra Leone who are allowed to use the College of Medicine and Allied Health Science library must register with the library and obtain a membership card. External readers are allowed to use the library for reference purposes but would not be given borrowing facilities.

At the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences library, most of the books are available to users for loan period and the number of books loaned varies. The book stock covers basic medical sciences, biology, physiology, biochemistry and all disciplines of medicine. Books are borrowed to both students and staff for specific period of time.

Challenges of Charging or Issue System used at the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences Library

Special Libraries in Sierra Leone, especially College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences Library are not without challenges.

Space Challenge: The three sites where the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences library operates have been observed to be very small with reference to the building. The locations of these sites especially with ones at National School of Nursing which houses the general collection as well as short loan and reference books; and the Medical Sciences library at the Kossoh Town campus, are not seen as favorable in terms of their locations. They do not offer convenient access for all staff and clients. Shelving and storage has not been conveniently located.

Financial Status: The financial standing of the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences library has been very unsatisfactorily especially when the management cannot meet with its obligation of taking care of the library’s itinerary. This has led to the library not having updated collections. This has been seen in the area of salaries, which has been very poor, operational costs, subscriptions, acquisitions, training and professional development.

Insufficient Materials: Materials at College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences are inadequate to meet the needs of its users. Materials are mainly acquired through donations as the library does not have enough funds to purchase materials in order to meet the needs of its users.

Inadequate computers and limited Internet Service: There are no adequate computers and strong internet connectivity sufficient enough to service the numerous clienteles. At the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences library, the inadequate number of available computers does not allow the library to operate the Computer charging or issuing system which is more advance and easier to operate than the Browne charging system which the library currently uses. The Internet service provided is also not sufficient to handle the high number of both their students, staff and other users.

Lack of adequate trained and qualified staff: The College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences library is short of adequate trained and qualified Librarians which have rendered the library ineffective in the area of properly disseminating information to users. The library is only made up of two qualified librarians and additional staff consists of a technician, clerks, cleaners and messengers.

Conclusively, the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences library as a Special library in the University of Sierra Leone has been able to meet the information needs of the many users with the Browne Issue system that it operates on. However, the collection is not updated and the service is not excellent enough to satisfy the clientele that it caters for. The College library lacks enough funds to purchase updated materials. The services of the library have not been too satisfactorily and this is due to few trained personnel and limited facilities. In spite of these challenges at College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences library, the Browne charging or Issue System has proven to be the therapy that has salvage the issue of delivery of services to their clients and the due preservation of their materials.

Learning English in an English Speaking Country

Those of you who have spoken to fluent or native English speakers will have heard them tell of the benefits of learning English in an English speaking country. The advantages of this are obvious. Providing you live with, or have daily communicative contact with English speakers, there is no doubt that this will enhance and speed up becoming a good English speaker. You will find yourself in typical everyday situations, where you need to understand and communicate in English. You are likely to find yourself in embarrassing situations, where you make mistakes, frequently misunderstand, or fail to understand completely. This can often lead to frustration and create an urge to try harder and commit more time to learning English. This can often have very effective results.

Learning English in a non English speaking country

Sometimes, learning English in an English speaking country is not possible. Instead, you have to do it whilst remaining in your home country. However, the results are often somewhat different. Input is often restricted to what you are exposed to in the classroom. Progress can often be slow and you will often find enthusiasm wanes after the novelty has worn off. This is because outside the classroom, there is no need to converse in English. The closest you get to this is through completing your homework, but often you will find this becomes a chore. Unless you are blessed with dogged determinism and enthusiasm, many of us will forget all about learning English until we step into the classroom again the following week.

Other benefits of learning English in an English speaking country

Not only does learning English in an English speaking country improve your general language learning experience, it also exposes you to other important factors attached to language learning. This includes the culture, the people and the overall functions of how certain countries do things. You will become familiar with the food people eat, when and how they eat, how people spend their free time, what people choose to spend their money on and how much things cost. The list is endless. It can provide you with an opportunity to really see how English speaking people live and provide you with an opportunity to see if you would like to live and work there yourself either permanently or temporarily in the future.

Making English speaking friends

If you spend a lot of time learning English in an English speaking country, you are very likely to make friends with native English speakers. You will go out with them, eat with them and experience all the things that they experience in their daily lives. This kind of interaction is especially good for learning the more informal aspects of the English language, like accent and dialect, proverbs and other “-ism’s” found in the English Language. You are only likely to learn these if you hear them spoken by a native speaker and are comfortable enough to ask what they mean. This is a very important part of becoming a fluent English speaker, as there are hundreds of these that are used frequently in everyday conversation among native speakers.

How to learn English in an English Speaking Country

Many of you will be thinking this is easier said than done. Going abroad costs a lot of money, and even once you’re there, issues of where you will stay and what you will do whilst learning to speak English will be on your mind. Fortunately, there are many schemes in place to facilitate this process.

Learning English From Home

Learning a new language can be difficult and overwhelming, even when the language is a popular one. Many people hope to learn English through different ways of learning as a way to increase opportunities and job related skills, while others simply want to improve upon their personal knowledge. Different people learn best in different methods. Some people learn quickly by reading books themselves because they have better ability to process the information and remember it. Others might do it better when they go in a group. They can share and discuss more knowledge and gain new ideas with the teacher and friends. Some people even do better when they are alone because they don’t need somebody every time to practice. You can speak English on your own. Out of all the above options, learning English from home is the best option because it gives flexibility to learn at any convenient time.

So if you do not have adequate time to go out somewhere, but still you want to learn it anyhow, then learning English at home is the best option. Whether you are a complete beginner of the language or you already have a little knowledge of the English language, its possible to learn English at home no matter where you live. This type of English language learning will maximize your progress in English, in the shortest period of time, & that too in a relaxed and hospitable environment.

There are many advantages for choosing to learn English at home:

  • It will give you the options of different learning methods like online English learning websites, English learning kits, Podcasts etc.
  • You get flexible and hassle free learning sessions with it. Here you don’t need to plan your schedule or spend your time in going to a coaching class. You have complete convenience of choosing your own time and place for learning.
  • You are not dependent on anyone for your learning. You learn independently, which not only makes you independent but also increases your self confidence.
  • It allows the whole family as well as friends to learn using the same material. This is cost effective & furthermore it also provides flexible learning to everyone.
  • You can use these learning from home material anytime throughout your life. You can revise your learning even after a couple of months or years of your learning.

There are different ways of learning English at home. But the most important aspect is to stay motivated and practice regularly, so that you can improve your language skills. Different ways to learn English at home are:-

Books/Websites/English learning kits

To speak fluent English, you need to understand the rules of grammar. You can learn these through a book or a website or an English learning kit that specializes in teaching English. If possible, choose a resource that includes explanations in your native language. English learning kits are a huge success these days. With these, learning English has become absolute fun! These interactive English learning kits allow you to practice vocabulary as per your own time & convenience.

Flash Cards

Create flash cards that are relevant to the type of English that you wish to learn. For example, if you’re studying English for business, you’ll need to know English words that relate to business. Review the cards on a daily basis. This is a good way to build your vocabulary words.

Watching English movies

If you are a fan of English movies, then learning English can be more than fun. Learning English by watching movies is learning by input, which is both enjoyable & motivational. You learn a lot of things from watching English movies such as – pronunciation, vocabulary, style, intonation even western culture, habit etc.

Podcasts

Listening to others speak English is an essential skill. You can improve listening skills through Podcasts, which you can listen to on your Mp3 player. Start with Podcasts created for non- English speakers, which will include slow, clear language. As your skills improve, you can start listening to Podcasts on topics that interest you

Out of the several options available, it’s up to to the learner which learning method he/she wants to adopt to learn the language but one thing you should always keep in mind that whatever learning method you choose, you should be self motivated.

So learn English by staying at home & boost your confidence in your work & social life.

Tools You Need to Learn English

Many people are not aware of the right approach and right tools to learn English easily and quickly. The moment we think of learning English, big books that are difficult to read or understand come to our mind. Another thing that strikes our mind is spoken English institute.

Are they really helpful? Ask anybody who tried these things. The answer will most probably be ‘No’. Then why are people still following these things which never provide efficient results?

Before you look for an easy and quick way to improve English, you should first understand that English is a skill and not a subject. Hence, stuffing the information from every nook and corner of the English books will not help. It is not the right way to go about learning a language.

Learning English is simple and all it takes is the right process of learning. Firstly, you need to have a minimum set of tools to learn English quickly and easily. Let us have a look at them.

Vocabulary book: What is a language without words? Until and unless you are aware of the words, you cannot use the language properly. Vocabulary book, may sound like any other boring book, but is actually interesting as it contains all the commonly used words in that language. Probably, the fast way to improve English is to learn commonly used words.

Dictionary: Dictionary and vocabulary book may sound similar but they are not. The vocabulary book gives only a list of commonly used words along with their meanings, their origin plus some examples to make it easy to use the words. Whereas, the dictionary gives the words and meaning and sometimes how to use them in the language; along with some grammatical information. It is good to be familiar with the most common words and their meanings in English. Dictionary makes it easier to understand the words. You use a dictionary to find meanings of words for which you are not sure of the meaning, especially as you are reading something. You use the vocabulary book so that you can use the right words easily while speaking and writing.

Illustrated comics and stories: If you think that above sources are serious, then here comes the entertainment side of the language. The smarter way to learn English is to find something easy and fun so that you put more effort to improve English skills. It’s not advisable to do difficult language exercises or go through serious literature to improve and learn English quickly. Illustrated comics and stories are the best aids to improve and learn English quickly while having fun.

Note book: A dedicated note book for writing notes while learning English makes it easy to progress quickly. English learning process will take longer without this. A good learner will make a note of important points to remember for future reference in the process of learning. Later, he can look through the small notes or refer them regularly to improve English skills.

The number of tools mentioned above may appear less, but they are the most effective ones which help in going through the English learning process easily. I believe that learning process should always be kept simple, to be productive. It is not about struggle, it is about smooth process. Proper usage of these tools will ensure you get command over English quickly and easily.

Learning English Language in Cheap Ways

Think of English vocabulary as the bricks of the language and grammar as the mortar that hold those bricks together, without the mortar the bricks can come tumbling down! There is a common impression that learning English grammar is painful, but it is a lot easier than many other languages.

When you begin to learn English, speaking and building up your vocabulary is more important than worrying about correct grammar. However, as you progress you need to incorporate more grammar into your learning program.

Here are some tips to learn English in an inexpensive ways:

1. Learn English by reading, listening, studying, and asking questions; practice what you learn by speaking and writing.

2. Dictation is an excellent way to improve your listening and spelling skills. Have a friend read a few paragraphs from a book or a newspaper. Write down what you think you hear. Compare what you have written with the actual text.

3. Make friends with native English speakers.

4. If you have your sights set on the US, look for literacy programs in your area — they are often free, learn a trade and do your best to acquire English-speaking friends.

5. Find a native individual who not only speaks English, but can teach it. Learn grammar and vocabulary using visual, auditory and spoken methods. Spiral the cycle and keep it interesting.

6. Reading will increase your understanding of English and add to your vocabulary, but it’s talking that will increase fluency.

7. Read Simple English in your spare time, such resources can be found at the Simple English Wikipedia and books written for young children to encourage yourself, if the contents are too difficult to understand you can easily lose interest.

8. Learn about the cultures of English-speaking countries.

9. As a teenager, live for a year in an English speaking country. This is much less expensive if you do barter – accept someone in your house in trade for living in theirs.

10. Never stop getting new information in English and keep practicing writing and speaking.

11. If you can dream in English, this means that you have succeeded in becoming a fluent English speaker, but not that your English is perfect.

12. Think in English when you have learned it well. Translation in your brain can become confusing after certain points.

13. Get a good dictionary. If you need to, a dictionary to translate between your first language and English is best.

14. Take note of your mistakes when doing your work and make sure you don’t repeat them.

15. Read aloud, so you are aware of how you speak.

16. Focus on pronunciation when you speak, since there are many silent letters in English as in French.

17. Learn the grammar with careful study. A teacher may be best for this.

18. Make sure you know the basics. If you don’t even know the basics, you want to improve.

19. Remember you need to exercise what you’ve learned. With practice, you can learn to speak the English language very well. Practice everyday by checking your pronunciation, and learning a few new words.

Learning English requires a lot of practice and determination, so don’t try to learn everything at once, but don’t ever give up!

Reference Services in Academic Libraries in Sierra Leone

Introduction

Society is becoming more stratified and polarized, with the rich and the poor, the educated and uneducated, having limited cognitive skills wider apart than in any time in our history. In this period of increasing stratification by income and ability, the library in academic institutions may acts as a bridge between the entrenched social poles.

Reference libraries have the longest history of any type of library. They existed in the days of clay tablet and from such tablets, information was consulted and a list of concerns is being regarded as the primitive forerunners of current library catalogues. From their beginnings in ancient times, the functions of libraries have not altered significantly. However the format, quantity and content of the materials making up their stock and the resultant services have progressively been transformed to the point where the researchers today have access to a network of sophisticated information resources. The primary role of the library is educational and this has been the attitude if not the realization of reference librarians (Higgens, 1988).

Academic libraries are those designed to meet general studies at the undergraduate and graduate levels and which also support their parent institutions in delivering their programs for an effective teaching and implementation of practical skills. Higgens (1988) defined an academic library as that attached to help academic institutions above secondary level serving the teaching and research needs of students, staff and researchers. According to Harrods (2000) academic libraries are those found in universities, polytechnics, colleges and all other institutions forming part of or associated with the educational institutions.

Reference Services at the Fourah Bay College Library

Fourah Bay College library was established in 1827. It is located at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone in the Michael Jollife Building which was named after the late Mr. Michael Jollife, an expatriate who served as College librarian from 1961-1970.

The first floor of the library houses the reception desk; photocopying room; issue desk; Sierra Leone Collection (incorporating the United Nations Collection); the American Shelf; General Reference Collection; Cataloguing Department; Acquisition Department; Circulation Department and the College Librarian’s office. The second floor holds the Textbook Collection. The third floor contains the General Lending Collection.

The lower ground floor houses the Bindery; staff rooms and stores. The library has Professional, Para-professional and other support staff. It uses the Dewey Decimal Classification Scheme and the Triplicate Issuing System with Card catalogue.

Fourah Bay College library is one of the outstanding academic libraries in Sierra Leone established with the mission statement “to build a comprehensive collection of recorded information to support effective teaching, research and training in the Liberal Arts, Pure and Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology, Social Sciences and Law and related fields to facilitate speedy access to information, and to optimize the use of collection by potential library users of Fourah Bay College and other institutions.”

Reference Service is the peak of library activity job. It involves the maintenance of a resource bank from which answers to queries are provided and materials needed by users are made available.Davidson (1979) defined reference service as the provision of information and materials to people entering a reference library and requesting help from the library staff. Katz (1997) viewed reference service as the behind-the-scene activities of the reference library in the selection, acquisition and maintenance of the library stock and its careful recordings and administration.

When we talk of reference service in academic libraries, we mean those activities undertaken by librarians and associated types of staff from the reference department in academic libraries. This is achieved through the use of collection of books, and other materials stocked in the reference department for reference purposes distinct from collection made for home reading or other use outside the library. The reference process in academic libraries involves the following:

• The user recognizes his need for information;
• The user puts his question to the librarian;
• The librarian engages the questioner in a reference dialogue;
• The librarian refines and restates the question;
• The librarian formulates the search strategy;
• The librarian identifies and exploits his own and/or external information resources;
• The librarian presents his tentative findings;
• The user assesses the relevance of these in relation to his requirements; and
• The user accepts an approved answer.

Reference materials at the Fourah Bay College Library include:dictionaries, encyclopedias, abstract journals, directories, yearbooks, biographies periodicals/serials, indexes to periodicals, newspapers, maps and charts, technical reports, patents, standard specifications, dissertations, theses, conference proceedings and the academic and administrative calendar of events or the operation of the college.

In addition to these materials the library offers the following services:

Reference Service: This refers to the personal assistance given to users in finding specific information whether direct or indirect. At Fourah Bay College Library, a resource bank is maintained from which answers to questions are provided and materials needed by users are made available.

Bibliographic Service: The library prepares book lists and bibliographies for its clients, especially post-graduate students which serve as a great aid in their research activities especially in the writing of their theses and dissertation.

Photocopying Service: This service is provided for students who wish to photocopy their notes as well as lecturers who want to reproduce multiple copies of useful materials to make their lecture notes. Users pay a fee for this service.

Internet Service: This is the latest among the services provided at the Fourah Bay College Library. The Library provides an opportunity for staff and students to access information online via the use of the Internet. However, to use the system, the clientele must have some skills in the use computers and a fee is also charged for the service.

Binding Service: Mutilated references materials are sent to bindery to be bound. However it is not a free for all service as some cost is charged for the services rendered especially to students and for personal work of staff members.

The reference department at the Fourah Bay College library is a special one from which materials cannot be borrowed for home reading. It is served by special librarians called Reference Librarians or Information Officers, who assist and advise patrons in their research and other literature needs. They provide bibliographic or intellectual access and offer targeted services and programs with the mission of educating, informing and entertaining a variety of audiences and the goal of stimulating individual learning and advancing society as a whole.

Reference Queries:are also answered in the library. These questions posed by the library patrons to the reference librarians with the aim of getting the right information to satisfy their needs. These queries are divided into:

Directional Queries: These are queries in which the reference librarian is asked simply for directions.

Ready Reference Queries: These are referred to as quick reference questions. They are queries in which the reference librarians need to consult only one source, and that adjacent to the inquiry point, in order to deal with the user’s needs. This is distinguished from the purely directional level of work by the fact that the librarians need to consult some data rather than simply answer from personal knowledge.

Specific Search Queries: These are described as those in which reference librarians may need to consult several sources to ensure complete the satisfaction of user needs. They are the kind which are clearly understood without too much discussion and the sources required are obvious and fairly elementary.

Research Queries: These are queries that require extended searches, perhaps over several days and possibly involving a number of library staff concurrently. The marshaling of facts and figures from a wide range of sources, together with the need to write extensive background notes and explanations, and probably to borrow materials from other libraries and make a telephone call to advice or getting assistance from other libraries will be a feature of this type of query

Challenges of Reference Services at the Fourah Bay College Library

Academic Libraries in Sierra Leone, especially Fourah Bay College Library are not without challenges. These range from shortage of funds through lack of adequate professionally skilled staff to erratic power supply.

The library is wholly and solely dependent upon the college administration for funding. An assessment of funding at Fourah Bay College Library reveals that a very low priority is given to the institution’s academic nerve center. The library is gravely underfunded. Games and Sports Division is given a higher quotation than the library. This financial challenge has therefore limited the library in the provision of an excellent reference service to its clients. The library also lacks the required current reference materials to handle reference queries. This financial constraints has limited the library in acquiring the most recent reference materials.

Further the number of professional staff is small compared to the number of para-professional and other support staff. The reference section does not have adequate staff to handle the volume of reference queries from the bulk of the users of the library especially during peak periods.

Power outages also pose a serious challenge. The problem, though a national one, has affected the operations of the library. The 21st century library is supposed to be a digital library which must thrive on power supply. Sadly power supply in Sierra Leone is erratic and this has handicapped the Fourah Bay College library greatly. As such staff and users could not make use of such facilities as computer, searching the Internet for recent reference materials and information or photocopying materials which cannot be used outside the library or even have access to automated reference materials.

The reference department at the library does not have Internet facilities to aid in answering reference queries that require current response. Also the seating accommodation in the reference department at the library is inadequate and cannot accommodate the large number of students in the college who come in for reference services. The reference department also lacks Current Awareness Services (CAS), Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) all of which form the basis for reference services. Moreover the reference sources and resources available at the reference department are not well publicized or marketed which could serve as a strong link between the department and the clients.

Indeed, reference service is one of the most important services that a library uses to meet its aims and objectives. There is considerable potential in the use the college library of reference services but there are also many challenges. There should be therefore commitment on the part of the librarians, library administration, users and the college administration in order to achieve quality and sustainability in the development and improvement of reference services. Only through their active participation will reference services transform the teaching and learning process, alter the nature of information seeking, organizing and using behavior at Fourah Bay College.

Learn English Easily at Home

It is the hope of many people, whether for personal or professional reasons, that they will be able to learn English easily. The very idea of learning a new language can often make even the most capable learners nervous. Fortunately, there are people who learn English well every single day, and with the right planning and work, you can be one of those people

Make a Plan
Although no one can guarantee that you will be able to learn English easily with any one particular method, it can definitely be guaranteed that without planning in advance, you will not learn English very easily at all. Whether you plan to learn English by natural methods such as watching English television, listening to English radio, and conversing with people in English as much as possible, or you prefer a more study oriented approach such as taking an English course, or perhaps a combination of the two methods, if you don’t have a clear plan and goals, learning English will not come easily.

Organic Language Acquisition
Organic language acquisition is a natural method of learning a language the way a child might learn to speak his or her native tongue. This is a very natural language learning method, and if you are able to totally immerse yourself in the English world, you will certainly be able to learn English easily. Immersion in the language requires that you do not speak any language other than English. To practice this method, watching television, listening to the radio, reading magazines and newspapers, cooking from recipes, and following various verbal and written instructions, should all be in English. This is particularly effective for non-English speakers who have recently moved to an English country.

Curriculum Based Language Acquisition
For those who prefer a more structured environment when learning English, curriculum based language acquisition might be a good choice. Many people are able to learn English easily by enrolling in an English class, using at-home English learning computer software, or listening to an English language instructional course on CD while driving in their cars. There are also many workbooks, flashcards, and self-tests that can be used to support this method of learning English

Combination Approach
For most people a combination of the above two approaches is the fastest and best way to learn English easily. If a person only goes to classes but never engages in real-life conversations, they will have a very difficult time becoming totally fluent, and a person who is immersed in a language verbally but never learns the specific grammatical rules will not be able to use his or her English in a professional setting very effectively. Therefore, if possible, the English learner should engage in a curriculum based approach to learning English, but should also be sure to engage in conversation with and listen to native English speakers as much as he or she can manage in order to facilitate the quickest learning possible.

Quick Tips
If a person is determined to learn English easily, he or she should also be sure to adhere to certain guidelines that will help them in their mission. First, be certain that your family, friends, and colleagues all know that you are trying to learn English, and that whenever possible, they should speak to you in English rather than your native tongue. Secondly, do not focus on just a single element of language acquisition at the expense of others. For example, it is not advisable to only attempt to speak the language but neglect to read it, write it, or listen to it being spoken. In order to be successful at obtaining fluency, a person should be attentive to all the different language elements.

Because English is one of the most widely spoken languages in the entire world and can be instrumental to a person’s personal and professional success, it is no wonder that there are so many people intent on learning to speak it with fluency. With the right planning and a lot of determination, anyone can learn to speak English quickly and easily. Combining an immersion approach with a curriculum based program will afford almost anyone the right foundation for a lifetime of speaking English. As long as the English makes a concrete plan with a set goal and adheres to it, he or she will be speaking English in a very short amount of time.

School Library Provision and Services in Sierra Leone

Introduction

Harrod’s (2000), defined school library as an organized collection of books placed in a school for the use of teachers and pupils, but usually for pupils. It may comprise books of reference and or books for home reading and in the care of a professional librarian, or teacher-librarian. It is variously call “Instructional Materials Centre”, “Learning Centre or Media centre.”

The School library serves as a service agency which supports the schools’ objectives and provides materials for all subjects and all interest of pupils and teachers. The school library is a supportive resource of the school curriculum, its provisions, services, and development is directed at aiding school programs (Kinnel, 1994).

Libraries generally have as their main purpose acquiring, processing, storing and disseminating information to which school library is not an exception. The school library has a vital role to play in the information service. They provide materials relevant to the curricular needs of everybody with the school community. The importance of providing such resources cannot be overemphasized if the school library is to be an instigator of and support for resource based learning in the school.

Also, in relation to information skills, the library and its librarian, make available materials and services in different varieties to allow both pupils and the school community to use these skills in finding the information they need.

The purpose and philosophy of school library service are rapidly being understood and accepted by school administrators and teachers. The fact necessitates that the school librarian be thoroughly familiar with those purposes such as guidance, the reading program and the enrichment program for pupils and teachers. However, Albert Academy library has no trained and qualified librarian, who understands and performs those purposes in order to ensure that the service provision is fully attained.

Albert Academy School Library

The Albert Academy was inaugurated on the 4th October 1904. It was until 1975 when the Albert Academy Alumni Association in their meeting thought it wise that such a reputable institution must not go without a library as the development of school libraries was at its highest peak at that time. An idea to erect a library building was born with the collaboration of the alumni association and the owners of the school that is the United Methodist Church. The library was established with the aim of having a place where pupils could go and explore new ideas to further strengthen their school curriculum activities and leisure as well.

The library was officially opened to the entire school community by His Excellency the late Dr. Siaka P. Stevens on 4th October 1976, then President of the Republic of Sierra Leone and also a member of the Albert Academy Alumni Association class of 1922. The library was named after him following the immense contribution he made towards establishing the library for the school community. The Albert Academy Library has a mission to “Support school curriculum activities by providing materials of relevance in the school process and to introduce new and improved information sources to help make the school to be in line with modern standards of education.”

The objectives of the Albert Academy school library are as follows:

I. To provide pupils with library materials and services most appropriate and most meaningful in their growth and development;

ii. To participate fully in school programs as it strikes to meet the needs of pupils, teachers, parents and others community members;

iii. to stimulate and guide pupils in all phases of their reading that they may find increasing enjoyment and satisfaction and may grow in critical judgment and appreciation;

iv. To make available new development and keep pupils abreast of modern trends in education recognize reader’s needs and keeping them well informed in order to create a well dynamic educational environment;

v. To work with the teacher in the selection and production of educational materials that meet the aims of the curriculum, offer guidance in the use of collection, evaluation of education programs and materials, facilitates the location, organization and maintenance of materials efficiently; and

vi. To help pupils to become skilled users of libraries and of printed and audio-visual materials.

Library Provision at Albert Academy School Library

A major role in the information service provided by modern school library is in the provision of materials relevant to the curricular needs of pupils and teachers. In recent years, the curriculum activities have moved to another level, where the school being supportive resource of this movement, must endeavor to house a variety of print and non-print materials and have access where possible to electronic sources of information which are also part of the information resources in the library.

Given the demands of the modern school curriculum, the school library must now house a wide variety of print and non-print materials and have access, where possible, to electronic sources of information. The Albert Academy School provides printed materials, book, fiction and non-fiction as well as pamphlets, newspapers, chart, pictures, monographs, manuals, handbooks, textbooks and other reference books the library also provides non-books materials which include audio and audio-visual materials, slides, tape-slides, video cassettes, and CD ROM’s. Although these are not materials in the traditional sense, they still constitute resources for use by pupils and teachers. Use of electronic sources help school libraries to present pupils and teachers with a concept of a School Information Centre which is not continued to the school but is a link to an unending supply of information (Herring, 1988).

Albert Academy School Library Services

The purpose of establishing Albert Academy School Library is to provide services for both pupils and teachers in a bid to fulfill one of its major purposes, which is to aid curriculum goals by providing services that are indispensably linked to the fulfillment of this purpose.

One of the principal services of the Albert Academy School library is to act as back-up to the under resourced school program. Even advanced countries cannot easily stock materials ranging from five thousand (5,000) to twenty thousand (20,000) in a small room to provide help to school programs. Therefore, they see the need for central stock of materials which can be borrowed for differing lengths of time (lending service) and also for reading and consultation services. This is done in order to augment the school curriculum at the Albert Academy which is inclusive of the Basic Sciences and Technology, Social Sciences, Humanities and the Fine Arts.

Albert Academy School library also provides inter-library loan services requests. This is particularly valuable to senior pupils studying topics across subjects offered in depth. Pupils who cannot afford to purchase or access such expensive materials benefit from this type of library service. Through inter-library loan services, materials are sourced from other schools libraries for the benefit of both pupils and teachers.

A reference service is also provided at Albert Academy School library. The School Librarians spend a sizeable proportion of their time providing what in other libraries term would be termed as reference service. In providing a reference service, school Librarians perform a similar role to that of other librarians. In a reference interview in school, each pupil is treated as important as the other and given the Librarian’s full attention. This is achieved by personal assistance given to the pupils and teachers in finding specific information whether direct or indirect. Some of the reference materials at the Albert Academy School Library are dictionaries, encyclopedias, directories, yearbooks, biographies newspapers, maps and charts, and the academic and administrative calendar of events or the operation of the school.

One of the most valuable services provided by Albert Academy School library is that of information provision. The Albert Academy School library keeps the teachers and pupils informed about new educational resources and development in the fields of interest to them by displaying the jackets of books that just arrived. The Albert Academy School library uses Current Awareness Services (CAS) to achieve this goal. This is done by identifying the information needs of both teachers and pupils and meeting these needs. Linked to the CAS is the Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) and this is more particular with teachers. This ranges from keeping individual teachers informed about new resources in the library or about newly published materials, to alerting teachers to meetings and course demands or event linked to their curricular interest.

Challenges of Library Provision and Services at the Albert Academy School Library

No matter what an organization has to count as success, is bound to face certain difficulties that stand before it as challenges to its success. School Libraries in Sierra Leone, especially Albert Academy School Library are not without challenges.

To start with the library and its resources have been ignored by the pupils and teachers. Despite their all-important nature of service provision in support to them they do not see it as a valuable part of their activities. This is because most teachers and pupils do not get adequate supply of textbooks and other materials directly linked to the curriculum program and most teachers prepare pamphlets for sale to pupils from which there teaching is based. This has caused most of the pupils to heavily depend on those sources instead of the library resources.

The School Library has a staffing challenge. For example the Albert Academy School Library has no professional library staff to handle an information service for over two thousand pupils and teachers.

Furthermore, the library has a challenge with space. The space provided for the library from inception is now not enough for the school. The school population in terms of teachers and pupils has grown relatively high to over two thousand (2000) pupils and staff as compared to the space provided for a little over Five hundred (500) pupils and staff about 40 years ago. It has become difficult to access the library and its resources.

In addition, there is a funding problem. The Albert Academy School Library is faced with the difficultly of securing funds from the schools authorities for an effective collection development. The library depends heavily on donations and gifts to stock its collection and most of these materials given in this guise are not reflective of the courses offered in the school curriculum. Often, the school administration has to spread meager financial resources across a wide spectrum of school needs.

The establishment of the computer laboratory with slight internet facilities independent of the school library has also created a problem for the Albert Academy School Library. The teachers and pupils would prefer to visit the Computer centre for Internet services much more that visiting the library. The separation of the Internet facilities from the library services has posed a serious threat to the library provision and services.

Also, it is quite proven that the Albert Academy School Library lacks the capacity to provide for the visually impaired or handicapped. The absence of school library materials in the Braille format prevents blind and the partially sighted pupils to utilize the available library resources in their schools libraries.

Final, the issue of preservation of library materials is not a common practice for the Albert Academy School. This preservation is supposed to ensure that the materials last long because of their frequent use. It has become difficult to access funds to preserve materials that are under threat of wearing out through continuous use.

Despite some gloomy predictions on the future funding of education and possible restrictions on the availability of resources at the Albert Academy School Library, the future of the school library seems assured. It can be argued that because of current educational and technological trends, there has never been a greater need for well-resourced and professionally staffed school library than it is now. The emphasis on the individual’s-the child’s and the adult’s-ability to find and use information effectively is likely to continue in schools, at work and for leisure pursuits. A future society dependent on electronic information for its prosperity will need an information curriculum in its schools. Hence the availability of good school library provision and services in the school curriculum cannot be overemphasized (Kargbo, 2000).

Desirable Home Furniture

Making do with desirable home furniture

The people that buy a piece of the timeless versions of oak dressers that have graced homes in all styles will find that they also have something that is durable. The durability of this type of furniture is one of its most compelling selling points and it is the reason that the public is enamored with it. We are constantly looking for things that can last us a very long time. When we decide to buy this item we know that it can meet this need. You can expect staying power with a piece of the timeless versions of oak dressers that have graced homes in all styles. Of course some people live transient lives that need change.

There are homes where the changing of furniture is just a matter of course. They will not hesitate to dump the items that they consider to be dull. If a piece of the timeless versions of oak dressers that have graced homes in all styles seems to fit the bill then they will get rid of it. This is just one of the ways that people manage their homes. We are in no position to criticize unless we are responsible for managing their budgets. The work that goes into the items is limited. You will be set up when you buy a piece of the timeless versions of oak dressers that have graced homes in all styles. They just quietly do their job and you do not have to replace them.

It is also one of the styles that are very versatile. You can have both the modern and ancient versions of your home using a piece of the timeless versions of oak dressers that have graced homes in all styles. The furniture is able to fit in with most of the decorative decisions that you make. In fact even the most eccentric homes will find that they are able to enjoy the benefits of this type of thing. You do not have to change the decor in your home before you introduce a piece of the timeless versions of oak dressers that have graced homes in all styles. It will just fit in to whatever scheme that you have prepared.

One has to think about the connotations that come with the purchase of a piece of the timeless versions of oak dressers that have graced homes in all styles. This is something that signifies timeless elegance and therefore the other furniture in the room has to be up to scratch. That is why we take the time to examine the different merits of new furniture so that we do not cause a contrast in styles within our home. The purchase of a piece of the timeless versions of oak dressers that have graced homes in all styles will achieve this aim. People with taste can experiment with different types of things but if you have a plain taste then you need to go for the standard fare that is not going to raise eyebrows.

Why Subscription Beauty Products is Everything Right Now

There are times when I’ve done something so smart I pat myself on the back. For someone who is not beauty obsessed, as I’ve gotten older and no longer have the dewy skin of my teens and early twenties, I’ve learned to moisturize and take better care of my skin. A beauty regime can be tedious if the only thing you do is scrub, rinse, repeat. That’s why I was so happy to take a friend’s recommendation to subscribe to Birchbox. The idea of a monthly mystery box is brilliant. I eager anticipate my box each month, and wait until late at night, just before I go to sleep to open it and unbox all the neat items they’ve sent. As the months went by, I developed an informal rating system that divides the products into saints and sinners. It’s not scientific, merely a reflection of what I like and the ones I take a pass on. Nothing goes to waste because I’ve found the samples make great ice breakers when I’m cold calling clients. My standard greeting is, “Hi. I’m Debbie, and I’d like to add a little beauty to your day.” It’s a small gesture, but I’ve made friends and won clients, some recognized the sample from receiving them in their own Birchbox. Great minds really do think alike, is what I say when that happens.

I got my subscription started with Groupon which was another smart move because I saved 50% off my order with my subscription and there are always deals that might even save you more. Getting started was quick and efficient. I filled out the information form to establish a profile, explored my sample items, chose the subscription level I wanted and now I purchase full size products that are my winners.

I love Birchbox so much I’ve given subscriptions to friends. The have great items for guys in the Birchbox for men. It’s my go-to gift for family and friends. And I always tell them about the great deals they can get on Groupon so they can check out the site and make purchases from some of the thousands of retailers who have teamed up with Groupon. Summer can be hard on the skin, so having a selection of name brand cosmetics to help keep it protected is awesome. Try Birchbox, and add a little beauty to your day.

Corporate Travel – Is It Time to Centralize Your Program Again?

Corporate travel has undergone a ton of changes in recent years, the most important being the advent of easy access to airfare via the internet. As more travelers found value in better control over their schedules by using the internet, many organizations loosened their travel policies to allow for travelers to book on their own online. This perceived benefit to travelers has actually cost businesses quite a bit in terms of lost productivity, lack of control over unused tickets, and lack of access to airline programs that can save the company significantly in all areas of travel.

Can we agree that online travel booking, while advantageous in some ways, has not been all we had hoped it would be from the outset? I hear stories from travelers every day about how difficult online booking can be, and how even when using the internet, travelers simply cannot be sure they are getting the best fare. This uncertainty gnaws at travelers and coordinators, and for good reason. It is difficult to be certain of what you are getting online because there is no track record of success, and no level of trust between the organization and the travel provider.

Collaboration between your organization and your chosen travel management provider is critical. This collaboration will reap benefits for your company in terms of a better working relationship and an anticipation of your current and future needs as they relate to the constantly changing corporate travel environment.

Centralized travel needs to make a comeback for the sake of the corporate travel program, and the sanity of travelers and travel coordinators. Because all distribution channels have access to the same fares and rates, there are fewer reasons today to continue with a decentralized travel policy. Executive level buy-in is critical, and it is easy to allow travelers to keep the level of control they like while still requiring travel booking through the preferred corporate channel. Most brick and mortar agencies now offer online booking solutions that can be customized to meet the needs of the unique corporate travel policy.

The benefits of centralizing travel again are many. Here is a comprehensive, but certainly not an exhaustive, list of reasons to regain control of this important but under-scrutinized budget. It will certainly have a positive impact on your company and its ability to serve your customers and improve traveler morale.

  • Access to airline and hotel discount programs through agency and provider contracts
  • Centralized booking allows travelers to be more organized and efficient
  • Unused tickets can be tracked and hotel cancellation policies can be managed
  • Centralized billing of hotels and car rentals
  • More efficient booking processes
  • Effective customer service for the inevitable changes and issues that come up with business travel
  • Customized and centralized financial and accounting reports

Many corporations find that the best solution is a combination of booking options, with most using an online booking portal provided by their agency partner, along with real live agent help when travelers are pressed for time or have more complex travel itineraries. The key in my opinion is to re-examine the travel program from every angle. There are more airline programs that are available to businesses than ever before. New opportunities to save money and streamline processes are out there for you. United Airlines recently began offering a discount off of every fare for corporate partners. That includes cheapest coach class seats, which even many Fortune 500 companies do not have access to. This is just one example of under-publicized opportunities for your company that can be had through the old-fashioned agency relationship.

It’s time we took another pass at the corporate travel program to see where efficiencies can be found and savings opportunities can be uncovered. Your travelers and coordinators may even be able to get back to what they’re actually paid to do. Take care of your customers and propel your business forward.

New Homes by Phoenix Home Builders

Phoenix is the capital and the largest city of Arizona. It is located in the South central part of Arizona and has a population of 4.3 million people, making it the most populated city in the whole of United States. Although mountains surround Phoenix, its topography is otherwise flat. This feature allows the main streets to run on a grid resulting in wide and well-spaced roadways.

Since Phoenix is in the middle of a desert, temperatures are very harsh, especially in the summer. Winters are temperate. The best time to visit Phoenix is from November through to April when the days are pleasant. Tourists usually flock here during this time of the year. There are several hot tourist spots in Phoenix offering a lot for the traveler to see and learn. Arizona Science Center, Desert Botanical Garden, Heard Museum, Heritage Square, Pueblo Grande Museum, South Mountain Park and Phoenix Art Museum are just a few such spots that figure high on a tourist’s itinerary. A host of recreation centers in Phoenix will ensure that the tourist has enough to stimulate his/her senses and make the stay worthwhile.

Finding the property of your choice will never be a problem in Phoenix. Seasoned home-builders of the region have a lot to offer in terms of quality and choice. More importantly, there is something for everybody.

KB Home: Builder of quality homes in Phoenix, KB Home focuses on custom-made, affordable homes with a basic premise that you would fall in love with your home even before you have moved in. For more information do a search on Google for KB Home in Phoenix, Arizona.

Richmond American Homes: Richmond American Homes is refreshingly different. A continued thrust on quality, precision of workmanship and time-bound delivery has made this home-builder stand tall and emerge as a prominent home-builder in Phoenix. If you want your home to be unique then Richmond American Homes is the builder for the long haul. Do a Google search about Richmond American Homes in Phoenix, Arizona for more information.

Neidhart Enterprises: Neidhart Enterprises builds custom homes at affordable prices. The company calculates the cost of building your custom home right in front of you to prove that custom-homes are not prohibitively priced. Search about Neidhart Enterprises in Phoenix on Google for more information.

Courtland Homes: Courtland Homes is one of the largest home-builder in Phoenix. The company excels in designing new homes. While each home is thoughtfully planned, the neighborhood is beautifully designed. Perfectly complementing a gracious lifestyle for you. You can do a Google search for Courtland Homes in Phoenix to get more information.

Home Furniture at Its Best

Making the best out of the storage facilities in the home

In a consumerist society, it is a sad fact that many people buy things which they do not immediately need. The solution to this accumulative vice is to get ample storage space such as the one found in the 6 drawer dressers that are gaining popularity. This is a piece of furniture that is associated with the modern bedroom. Somehow one cannot imagine it in the living room unless the family is living in the equivalent of poor housing facilities. Therefore we would expect that it is primarily used for the storage of clothes. The wooden furniture is particularly good for people that are not tidy. They allow them to keep the multitude away from critical eyes.

We then move on to the way in which you can use the storage places. It is best to set up cabinets for each item of clothing. This does not mean that you are being obsessive. Rather it means that the items are kept in separate compartments and you can access them easily when you need to. That is the best way of storing and accessing your clothes and other items of interest. It serves no purpose to keep them all one place yet you have the full use of the set of bedroom accessories. You can also create an extra compartment that can store the junk stuff or the dirty clothes that you are going to put in the laundry basket.

There are some important points to note when looking after your set of bedroom products. There are mites and other parasites that tend to attack wood. It is better to treat them before they become a problem. Some of them can turn the wood into a powdery substance that is crumbling before your eyes. If this is the situation then you need to move them away from patching up to actually replacing the items that are damaged. This is actually simpler than it sounds. The local carpenter should be able to help you arrange the parts for the replacement. They will do the work on the modern furniture products for a reasonable fee. The alternative is replacing them altogether.

The colors that you choose for the furniture items for style should blend in with the general ambiance of the room in which they are kept. White is considered to be sufficiently neutral to cover all the bases but there is no guarantee that it will work. You have to look for the items that work instead of relying on the old formulas that are taking you nowhere. In the even the imported furniture lines should be adjusted to the vision that you have of your home as an entity. This might mean that you have to adjust the colors and size of your furniture in order to get the very best selection modules. The choices ought to be bespoke in their application and execution so that the room is not disrupted.

Britain's Fashion Icons

Britain is commonly known for its bad food and bad weather however some of the iconic faces in music, pop culture and fashion come from the island. You can either love them or hate them but surely you know their names and what they do for a living.

One of the biggest bleeps on the fashion radar is certainly Kate Moss. She has managed to bring into fashion the tight waistcoat and the cut off denim shorts and we have to love her for that. Her look is copied over and over again by many young girls (and not only them!). Her style is glamorous and sexy both on the catwalk and in real life. It doesn’t matter if she had a troubled past (which actually made her more popular than she already was) we still love Kate Moss!

Their minutes of fame are long gone but not so many years ago they were considered Britain’s sweethearts. The famous Spice Girls became celebrities not only because of their number one hits but also because of the outfits they wore both on stage and off stage. With their different, strong personalities the five British singers adopted a style for everyone: posh, baby, scary, sporty and ginger spice. Both their fashion choices and their songs (that managed to conquer the whole world) will remain in history

Vivienne Westwood is one of the biggest fashion designers in the world who is also 100% British. The new wave fashion style and the punk style, that are so greatly appreciated by the celebrities and normal people, are her creation. The guys from Sex Pistols where the first celebrities that wore the creations of Vivienne. Her punk fashion style included, among others, safety pins, razors, bicycle chains combined with shocking make-up and hairstyles. However, besides the outrageous outfits she creates and wears, she also has a down to earth side that has captured the interest of some very famous celebrities among which is Sarah Jessica Parker. She has constantly worn Vivienne’s creations in the movie we all love: Sex and the City.

These are just some of the famous people the British can be proud of. They have influenced us and have made us love them!

Delicate Home Furniture

Assessing the values of delicate home furniture

Sometimes the home owner might make the decision to purchase some modern home furniture such as the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet. This piece of furniture will make meals the occasions that they need to be. That means that if you are entertaining there is no need to worry about the kinds of things that you are going to use. The efforts can be saved for the other items such as cutlery and cooking utensils. The use of the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet is therefore a great achievement for the home owner.

This type of furniture will cost somewhat more than the standard items that you use in the home. It is an investment in the kind of lifestyle that you wish to create for your family. It is reasonable to expect that you will get the best quality when you decide to go for the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet. In the true style of the age, this is a system that tends to work very well with modern settings. You simply configure your home in the way that you want it and then wait for the results. You are almost guaranteed satisfaction when you purchase the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet.

The homes that decide to buy the item will be please by their purchase of the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet. It is a delicate balance that includes looking at the item and then trying to fit it within the home settings. If it appears that the furniture is not going to make the grade then the clients can try to find alternative solutions. The end result is that the furniture is merely one of the choices that they can make. Using this sort of set will ensure that you are well served by the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet.

Some people might be concerned about using the item because they believe that purchasing the item will cost them too much. For it is not worth it to buy the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet. They would rather spend the money on alternative projects from which they can expect some sort of compensation in the long run. This might be the wrong way to go about things because the purchase of the item is not about money. Cost are not too important when buying the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet.

Destination Dorset, UK – Travel Info

With the current financial climate forcing all of us to cut back on spend for the non-essentials this year, many Brits are considering a holiday here in the UK instead of travelling abroad. As a result, prospective holidaymakers are becoming fully aware that if they choose to stay in England it is unlikely that they will be the only souls with that idea – so choosing a destination that is less known, sooner, and booking early is a great idea. Dorset is the perfect destination, especially for those seeking camping or cottage holidays. It is a less obvious choice than Devon and Cornwall, but is equally as unique and enchanting a place.

Lyme Regis is perhaps one of the best known tourist destinations in the county. The town lies on the Jurassic Coast (a World Heritage Site) to the east of the county and equidistant between Exeter and Dorchester (25 miles from each). The town’s rich history is related closely to the progression and growth of shipping and exploration in the 13th Century, and was once home to George Somers (who founded Bermuda). Today, one of the major pastimes in the town is fossil hunting. The Blue Lias rock of the cliffs is host to many intact fossils that are revealed by coastal erosion, and easy to find by visitors.

The county’s unique geography is also exemplified by Chesil Beach. This barrier beach connects the Isle of Portland to the mainland, and stretches 18 miles north-west up to the village of Burton Bradstock. The intriguing beach bar structure offers a natural barrier to Weymouth and Chiswell against the harsh channel and sea. Behind the beach in-between the Isle and the mainland lies Portland harbor, the second biggest manmade harbor in the world after Sydney. The harbor is a popular destination for sailors, wind surfers, and divers.

Bournemouth is the largest town in Dorset and is situated on the coast at the east of the county. The town is considered the regional centre for leisure and recreation, and consequently offers many things for tourists to do. The Russell Coates Museum contains collections of 19th Century paintings from countries as diverse as Japan and Russia. Bournemouth is also home to the well-renowned Royal Bath Hotel which has been the temporary residence to such celebrities as Oscar Wilde, H. G. Wells and Shirley Bassey.

There are numerous other sights to see in the county to satisfy all tastes and interests: from castles to tank museums. Monkey World is certainly worth a visit. The primate sanctuary is continually growing and progressing its environmental efforts, with a range including Gibbons, Marmosets, and Lemurs. However the icon that is no doubt most known around the world is that of the Cerne Abbas giant – an 180 ft tall chalk drawing to the north of Dorchester.

How to Get Free Dental Care in the Texas State

Today a lot of people never get dental insurance included in their medical insurance policy. In fact a long time back, the thousand dollars of dental fees were not even covered by insurance policies. Nothing seems to have changed in fact the costs involved in dental treatments have now doubled or tripled than before. Now, even if insurance covers dental treatment costs only a small number of people are actually able to afford it. Due to this reason a lot of people have opted for tooth extraction as an alternative of paying for dental care. Many of them even avoid getting dental care treatments on time due to the expenses involved. Tooth decay and gum disease are the common risks involved if oral care is avoided long enough.

Out of all the 50 states in the U.S., according to the Texas Senator Eliot Shapleigh only a minimal number of residents in Texas have overall health insurance and therefore it ranks last in this regard. Free dental care has become a need all over the country and especially in Texas, so now a lot of organizations have started to put an effort to offer free dental services and there are now several places where people can go, to avail free oral care.

If you are in need of free dental treatment you can start by contacting the Texas Dental Association Smiles Foundation. Every year these dental care opportunities are provided by the licensed dentists at this organization for those who are in need of immediate dental care. The Texas Mission of Mercy is a large event which is held every year for two days in variety of cities all across the state. Here hundreds of people are able to receive free dental care from the volunteering dentists. They even offer free dental services on the go by traveling into communities in mobile vans known as ‘Smiles on Wheels’.

A second alternative to receive such schemed care is by applying at a Hill-Burton Facility for free dental care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources runs the Hill-Burton program, where qualified people are allowed to avail free or low-cost dental and medical care. To be eligible the income level of each patient should meet the current HHR Poverty Guidelines. All you need to do is to go to a facility near you where a Hill-Burton obligated facility is accepted and apply for the free treatment and care. In Texas there are now 11 Hill-Burton facilities and by visiting the HHR website you can find more information about them.

Lastly searching online for a free or low-cost dental clinic will also help you to receive free oral care. To find the right program and service all you need to do is type the term ‘free dental care’ into a search engine with the city closest to you. You can find a comprehensive list of free and low-cost medical and dental care services listed by state and city at Free Dental Work.org.

Bracelets – Great Adornments to Accentuate One's Fashion Style

From every perspective, bracelets are absolutely great adornments for fashion conscious women to make their fashion statement and infuse their personal styles with new vitality. Great bracelets can help to set you apart from the crowd. With the embellishment of gorgeous bracelets, your old outdated outfit may even obtain new glamour beyond your expectation.

Over the years, the designs and styles of bracelets have evolved a lot. Apart from the traditional silver and gold bracelets, you can also find leather wristbands, wood bangles and many other bracelets made from unique materials of distinct styles. Nowadays, personalized or customized wristbands are really popular. People like to attach pendants carrying special meaningful notes to the bracelets as their lucky wristband.

Bracelets can help to highlight one’s personality greatly. Just like clothes or any other fashion accessories, stunning bracelets do have the ability to make you stand out in the crowd and make a deep impression on others. For example, rock and roll style bracelets can reflect your bold characters and funky fashion attitude.

Generally speaking, chunky jewelry is in trend this season, while there are still many people who show their constant passion for subtle and tiny jewelry. No matter whether it is a chunky style or tiny style, it is really chic to wear several pieces of bracelets together at the same time.

You must believe that gorgeous bracelets can add great fancies to your outfit and do you a great favor to become the center of attention. However, when you select the bracelets, you should still stick to your own preference and personal style.