Makerere University Library is the main library of Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. It is the oldest academic library in Uganda, established in 1949. In addition to its primary role as an academic library, it also serves as the national reference library and the legal depository of all works published in Uganda. It has been a depository for the United Nations since 1956.
Along with the main library, there are seven specialized branch libraries. On-campus libraries include the College of Business and Management Studies, College of Education and External Studies, College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology; College of Humanities and Social Sciences; College of Natural Sciences; and College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Bio-Security. The College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at Kabanyolo and College of Health Sciences at Albert Cook Medical Library at Mulago have libraries located off campus.
The largest library is the main branch, which is 130,000 square feet and contains the majority of the collection. It has undergone numerous renovations and extensions in 1962, 1972 and 2006. The most recent occurred in December 2012, after which the President of the Republic of Uganda officially reopened the library.
The Office of University Librarian is the director and reports to the Vice-Chancellor of Academic Affairs. The current director is Maria Musoke, who is the first Ugandan woman to have a Ph.D. in information science. There are ten other program directors, each responsible for a specific area or function of the library. All policy must be approved by University council, the highest tier of decision making at the university. The library also uses the following committees for administrative purposes: finance, appointments, heads of sections/college libraries, professional staff, ICTs/projects, research and staff development, preservation and conservation and staff welfare.
The Africana and special collection area of the library is located on the fourth floor of the main library. It contains materials related to East Africa, general Africana texts and books and documents on Uganda. This includes papers, reports and publications from individuals, private and official organizations dating ranging from the 19th century to current day. Examples include copies of the first newspapers and photographs from Uganda,church files, UN publications and diaries and journal entries form explorers, travelers, missionaries, military and political figures. Especially notable is the amount of historical documents from the early periods of colonization in East Africa. Considered the primary depository and research center for East African history, it also includes a music and photographic collection of great historic and cultural significance. Theses and dissertations from African universities are also stored in this area along with university archival materials.
Originating in 1990,the book bank houses copies of textbooks and classroom materials collected from academic departments throughout the university's history.Current textbooks and materials are also held here. It ensures that students have access to textbooks despite limited funds, allows sharing between departments and keeps a record of curricular materials. The collection currently contains 200,000 materials.
The area dedicated to law contains textbooks on law and human rights in a number of languages and periodicals and law reports from the UK, America, India and Africa. It also houses the Human Rights and Peace Center (HURIPEC) Collection of humanitarian law materials which focuses on teaching research, teaching and activism. In conjunction with the program of study offered by the University, this is the first human rights center in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Named for the International Development Agency which donated the core collection, it includes reference materials and textbooks for undergraduate use. The World Bank continues to play an active role in contributing and materials.
Each of the branch libraries contains technology services and facilities. The majority are located in the main branch, including computer labs and training units. There is a specialized computer lab for students with disabilities and designated areas software use and digital media. The Research and Learning Commons provide students with support and tutoring with research, writing and mathematics. There is also an online training platform which provides information about upcoming bibliographic and technology instruction courses. According to Elly Amani Gamukama, the systems administrator at the main library, “the university has made it a policy that every first year student must go through a computer course. We are aiming at reaching the international standard which is 1 computer per 50 students. Starting next year, all students will undergo training in the use of the available databases and other library resources that will be compulsory and carrying credit”.
The libraries of Makerere University received a $650K grant in 2001 for the duration of four years. The project goal was to “make significant contribution to equitable improvement of the academic standards of Makerere University, with a priority to science-based and gender disciplines”. Specific objectives included the creation of an interlibrary loan program with library partners and other academic libraries, to increase the collection in specific areas, minimize book theft and loss and hire and retrain staff. The implementation of an Electronic Document Delivery Service, Science Citation Index and book safety system resulted from the grant. Approximately 5,000 books relating to the fields of science and gender were added to the collection. Funding also purchased computers and established an information literacy program for students, faculty and staff. The project is ongoing and received an additional $400K grant in 2004 to develop an automation process beginning with the main library.
The Department for Research Cooperation (SAREC) at the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency provided the library with almost $1 million to build ICT structure, create a PHD program for library staff, increase training and purchase subscriptions to electronic journals and licenses. This also created a partnership with a variety of university libraries in Sweden to share practices, training and education.
The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation has used a variety of non-governmental organizations to support development in Uganda through the improvement of academic services at the university. The library recently received a $200K grant to support an administrative computing project.
Launched in 2003, the DATAD is part of the Association of African Universities program to manage the collection, organization and dissemination of dissertations and theses. Partially sponsored by the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation, this is the largest collection of African scholarly work in the world. Some of the collection has been digitized and is available at http://www.aau.org/?q=datad.
The library is in the process of digitizing its collection for access through MakLIBIS, the university’s online public access catalog (OPAC). This electronic database will replace its existing print indexes. The project also includes digitizing photographs and scanning archival material to make the rare collection more accessible.
Makerere University is an institutional repository which collects, organizes and allows retrieval of scholarly articles and books, theses and dissertations, conference proceedings and technical reports in an electronic format. The library uses DSpace technology to work in conjunction with the Open Archives Initiative. All researchers can submit content and copyright is according to either the publishing body or the content owner. The depository contains an approximate 2.000 titles, over 2,382 sound recordings and 1,907 files of print materials. The digital library has undergone various challenges; including copyright issues, inadequate skills, low bandwidth, out of date equipment and inadequate funding.