School 2018: Nairobi, Kenya

Fifth CERN-UNESCO School on Digital Libraries, held at the University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya from 8th to 12th October 2018

The school was organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), and was hosted by the University of Nairobi. The purpose of the school was to deepen the participants’ understanding of digital libraries, expose new trends in scientific publishing, and emphasize a set of principles related to open access, both for data and publications.


Sharing The Knowledge: The fifth CERN-UNESCO School on Digital libraries

by Esra Ozcesmeci

"Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity,
and is the torch which illuminates the world."
Louis Pasteur

This beautiful quote from the famous French chemist seems to have inspired some key missions of CERN: the dedication to training and international collaboration besides physics research. One recent example is the CERN-UNESCO School on Digital Libraries that took place in Nairobi, Kenya from 8th to 12th October 2018. Aiming at enabling better information access for African researchers and making African research more visible to the rest of the world, the School represents an important opportunity for CERN in terms of contributing to the global exchange of knowledge, skills, and culture.

After Rwanda, Morocco, Senegal and Ghana, Kenya was the fifth host country of the Digital Library School. It was organized by CERN in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). About 35 librarians and library system managers from Kenya, Cameroon, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe convened at the University of Nairobi to acquire new skills for running digital library systems and a better insight into the technologies helping the circulation of academic production within libraries. The training was a mixed programme of theory, practical exercises and active participation with contributors coming from CERN - Scientific Information Services (A. Holtkamp & J. Vigen) & Information Technology department (J.-Y. Le Meur) - the National Library of Uganda (S. Kaddu), Tind Technologies (G. Lastacoueres), Elsevier (I. van Stadt) and EIFL (S.K. Too).

The 5-day training covered diverse topics. It focused on the principles related to open access and open knowledge, with the clear goal to facilitate access by libraries to a more comprehensive literature and also to get the African repositories well-filled with all the local academic production. Practical solutions for setting up and running digital libraries have also been shared among all attendees. Participants were exposed to different approaches to run the open source digital repository platform Invenio, born at CERN. Complementary hands-on sessions were proposed, one using the service Zenodo, and the other using the service Open Access Africa (OAA). OAA has been deployed and launched for this workshop by the CERN spin-off TIND, where the platform will be offered for free for a two years duration. Multiple other good practices and useful tools were presented and tried-out, like the ORCID & DOI attributions, the OpenRefine holding pen software (Google), the GROBID extraction tool and more.

Published in: Giving to CERN site; November 1, 2018. The full article is accessible here.


African librarians come to CERN to complete their training on Digital Libraries

The second part of the CERN-UNESCO School on Digital Libraries took place at CERN at the end of June 2019

From left to right: Winfreda Nalwimba (EvelynHone College, Zambia), Peter Otuoma (Karatina University, Kenya), Timothy Sukya (University of Nairobi, Kenya), Parul Pant (CERN), Jens Vigen (CERN), Daniel Mwashivya (Mzumbe University, Tanzania) and Benedetta Nirta (CERN) (Image: CERN)


Following one week of general training in Nairobi, Kenya, the second part of the CERN-UNESCO School on Digital Libraries took place at CERN this year, from 17 to 28 June. This in-depth training saw the participation of four African librarians invited to CERN to complete their training after attending the Kenyan School in early October 2018.

Now on its fifth edition, the CERN-UNESCO School on Digital Libraries aims at making African research more visible, by familiarising librarians with open-access and open-science principles, introducing them to new web technologies and services, such as Invenio, and advising them how to further develop their own digital libraries.

Throughout their two weeks in Geneva, the participants attended conferences at the United Nations, met advocates of open access and created new professional networks.  “It was my first time in Europe, and we had the opportunity to meet new people, make connections with founders and delegates around the world”, says Peter Otuoma, from Kenya, who is a systems librarian at Karatina University.

Most importantly, during this follow-up training, they had the chance to work hands-on on open-access technologies with CERN experts, which helped them come up with solutions for their own professional challenges.  “The solutions for open access I discovered here were quite helpful. Now I feel confident I will be able to test my knowledge back in my home institution”, says Timothy Sukya, systems librarian at the University of Nairobi.

When asked about what the future had in store, Daniel Mwashivya, from Tanzania, had no doubts he would help spread and share the knowledge learned at CERN: “The role of librarians worldwide is constantly changing. We are no longer just sitting on shelves and this is why we need to familiarise ourselves with digital libraries.”

Winfreda Nalwimba, from Zambia, the only female participant who was able to attend the training at CERN, hopes that by sharing her experience at CERN, she can inspire more girls in her home institution to be involved in science.

The CERN-UNESCO School for Digital Libraries is an Education & Outreach project supported by the CERN & Society Foundation. The 2016 school in Ghana, the 2018 school in Kenya and their follow-up training at CERN were possible due to the kind donation received from Ms. Margarita Louis-Dreyfus.

Download the 2018 CERN & Society Foundation Annual Review, to learn more about the Nairobi CERN-UNESCO School on Digital Libraries.

Published in: Knowledge transfer CERN site; 18 July, 2019