At the end of the trip. I had full knowledge, why the library had been transformed to a reading area. I had learned manyreaders (more than a half) didn’t bother to check on the shelves. This is nyeri provincial library(KNLS branch).
A glance from outside reveals a spacious green painted structure with a vast-also green compound. I can bet my last coin that the designer was a good one not to mention the serene quiet environment that meets you once you enter this premises.
At the entrance is an exaggerated big desk that serves as the information desk, readers advisor’s desk and payment desk for non members like me. behind it sits a tired looking man who seems overworked doing what I assumed to be arranging cards in a tray. He first ignores me, but quickly apologizes and gives me the receipt after paying the mandatory Kshs 20.
Just next to the second entrance door is the librarians office at a corner almost impossible for new clients to notice it, then a cyber café-no longer in use, followed by Vacant rooms with no door labels. In the book section, a classified catalogue stares at you at the entrance and an author/title catalogue(separated against the norm) opposite to it.
It’s a rude shock that knocks you once you pull out the tray oblivious of the fact that this is national library. The card in use is far from the stipulated 3x5cm. a big embarrassment awaits you on the way entries are made in this cards. The numerous cataloguing filling and arrangement guidelines n existence seem to have been ignored. The general feeling is the call number should be on the to left corner of the card but at this library, consistency is a foreign word with some at the top, right hand side middle, bottom or even non at all. Some entries are handwritten, other are typesets while others are printed.
Indentions do not seem to have any serious impact here and where used, consistency lacks. perhaps because of being used frequently-which I doubt-, the classified catalogue is in pathetic condition, save for the author/title catalogue-on the positive side- which looks better.
However I noticed some trays without the centre steel rod and others with no labels at all.
Walking around the library, you can easily smell the mess even before touching the shelves.
The printed guides are the alright on the shelves and bays, but I could only term them as misleading. There however no other guides e.g. plan of a classified library. catalogue(for guiding),class guides, individual book guides, personal guidance e.t.c. the ones available are already worn out e.g. for agriculture. On some shelves there are no labels at all.
Another thing I noticed is the wrong choice of classes and class headings for labels. For instance, sub class 005-cybernetics and related disciplines on Dewey Decimal Classification(DDC) is labeled as computer, sub class 070-journalism,publishing and newspaper is included while major classes like 900-General Geography and history and their auxiliaries, have no labels.
Against the norm of other libraries, Nyeri provincial library doesn’t label its shelves according to main classes e.g. 000,200,300…600…e.t.c. but rather chooses some sub classes e.g. 330-economics perhaps which they deem to be more important. I couldn’t help wonder whether those in charge of the library were conversant with information ethics or they just choosed to deliberately ignore them.
While they have embraced they have embraced the accepted departures from the conventional schemes by using the F method for fiction books e.g. F/NGU for Ngugi wa Thiongo, this has brought even more confusion for failing to collocate related topics e.g. 400-language, 800-literature and the fiction books classified on the F/SURname method.
To add more salt on injury, the library has intentionally created a double sequence against the rule of cataloguing as its evident on the fiction books devil on the cross by Ngugi wa Thiongo(F/NGU) and shadows of the moon by Ali Mazrui(828.99249 ALA) . it negates the purpose of classification(guiding users) or using DDC if the “LOOong” call number(828.99249 ALA) given above is anything to go by.
The library doesn’t seem to have put in place any conservation and preservation measures, inside the library is hot(to a small extent) and non-book materials/multimedia resources are alien here.
But the biggest crime of all is classifying a book in the wrong place. A book titled information security: a source book for librarians- C.R. Ramamurthy is given call number 005.8RAM which fall and class cybernetics and related topics. To the shock of many the book is purely on library and information sciences class number 020 on DDC.
Though there is a reference section it’s a whole mess altogether. There is no systematic arrangement to guide readers and the classification system in use(unknown) seems different from DDC that is used in other sections.
Inside the book section and the whole library in general, there is no other library staff but the librarian could be see lazily walking around. Give credit where its due. The library has a seemingly well organized sections for oversize books and a children section.
All said and done, I did a sample on readers-by observation-regarding the usage of library as opposed to their own books. Roughly 7/10 of users only used the books they hard come in with and most of other users came in to read periodicals, mostly newspapers. this highlights what has transformed to a mere book store and a reading area from the much needed library.
My sympathy goes to all Kenyans who voted for the new constitution-I inclusive. Apparently the new constitution requires that every county has an information center for its own “citizens.” With the shame and mess in this Library isn’t it exciting to know the country awaits 47 other similar “shames and messes”? or is it time for institutions offering information and librarianship course think twice about their curricular?
the author studies library and information sciences and a journalist with KUSJC(Kenyatta University Student Journalism club).