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May 2019

Association of Parliamentary Libraries of Eastern and Southern Africa (APLESA) Pre-Conference Data Literacy Workshop

By, Ms. Winny Nekesa Akullo

Through its Membership Committee's event sponsorship program, IASSIST recently sponsored a one day pre- Conference Training Workshop on Data Literacy for the Association of Parliamentary Libraries of Eastern and Southern Africa (APLESA). The workshop aimed to help librarians acquire data literacy skills in order to produce statistics/data that can be used for reporting and evidence based planning.

The workshop was held at the Makerere University School of Computing and Information Sciences, Kampala, Uganda, attracting over 30 participants from Malawi, Uganda, Angola, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Botswana and Mozambique. Attendees came from from Parliaments, government departments, academia and publiclibraries.

The workshop was facilitated by Ms. Winny Nekesa Akullo, the IASSIST Event Liaison Coordinator and Prof. Constant Obura-Okello, who is also the Dean of East African School of Library and Information (EASLIS). Mr. Simon Engitu, the Secretary of APLESA was the workshop moderator.

In his opening remarks, the President of APLESA, appreciated the support from IASSIST and the importance of the workshop, emphasizing the value of data in reporting and planning. With the theme of conference “Taking Parliament to the People: the Role of Parliament Libraries in Bridging the Gap between the People and Parliament”. There is need for the Parliament libraries to work together with Research Services departments to improve research data management and data literacy skills.

The workshop topics included data and storytelling; basics of data literacy and its importance, and basics of data visualization using RAWgraphs. During sessions, participants were assigned group work related to topics and discussed their group work.

Ms. Nekesa informed the participants that they don’t need to be statisticians to carry out data management, but as librarians they need to gain data literacy skills to support researchers and other patrons. We need to illustrate and inform public opinion, substantiate for others what we already know using data which will provide a basis for evident based planning. Hence there is need to learn to generate and analyze the data we receive in the libraries and better serve our clients.

Prof. Obura reminded the participants that that data literacy is the ability to understand and use data effectively to form decisions. He informed them that data literacy is a new concept in Africa and therefore, there is need to include it in LIS curriculum and train data librarians who are able to handle data requests from researchers and other clients.

Feedback from workshop participants indicated overwhelming satisfaction with content. They also recommended to form a member’s forum; a workshop on integrated data literacy into the academic curriculum; a training of trainers of data literacy technical working group; and form technical working groups for data literacy in Eastern and Southern Africa

An interim working group was formed to further the interest of data literacy in the Eastern and Southern Africa.

  • Academic representative: Loyce Mutimbwa (Uganda)
  • Student representative: Akello Cissy (Uganda), Chancy Makamo (Malawi)
  • Parliamentarians: Simon Engitu (Uganda), Mr. Miguel (Angola)
  • Other Government Agencies: Sadres Twinomugisha
  • Patron: Prof. Constant Okello-Obura

At the end of the workshop, participants were presented with certificates.

IQ 43(1): Standardization and certification save us from the frustrations of the Greek drama

Welcome to the first issue of volume 43 of the IASSIST Quarterly (IQ 43:1, 2019).

The IASSIST Quarterly presents in this issue three papers illustrated in the title above. Chronologically we start from an early beginning. No, not with Turing, we time travel further back and experience ancient Greece. In this submission the Greek drama delivers the form, while data librarians deliver the content on data sharing. And it makes you a proud IASSISTer to know that altruism is the rationale behind data sharing. The drama continues in the second submission when librarians get frustrated because they suddenly find themselves first as data librarians and second as frustrated data librarians because ends do not meet when the librarians have difficulties servicing the data needs of their users, in combination with the users having unrealistic expectations. Finally, the third article is about standardization and certification that makes the librarians more secure that they are on the right track when building a TDR (Trustworthy Digital Repository). Enjoy the reading.

The first article is different from most articles. There is a first for everything! Not often are we at IQ offered a Greek drama. And here is one on data sharing. The article needed the layout of a play so even the typeface of this contribution is different. The paper / play is called 'An epic journey in sharing: The story of a young researcher’s journey to share her data and the information professionals who tried to help’. The authors are Sebastian Karcher and Sophia Lafferty-Hess at Duke University Libraries. The reason for using Greek drama as a template is that form can help us think differently - 'out of the box’! The play demonstrates the positive intention of data sharing, and by sharing contributing to something larger. The article references other researchers showing that scholarly altruism is a driving force for data sharers. No matter the good intentions of the protagonist, she finds herself locked in a situation where she is not able to take identifiable data with her when leaving the institution. And leaving the university is what undergraduates do. Without the identification, it is impossible to obtain re-consent from participants. Yes, it does look murky but there is even a happy ending in the epilogue.  

The second article is about librarianship, and how that task is not always easy. 'Frustrations and roadblocks in data reference librarianship’ is by Alicia Kubas and Jenny McBurney who work at the University of Minnesota Libraries. Like many others, they have observed that many librarians find themselves as 'accidental data librarians'. That this brings frustration can be seen in the results of a survey they carried out. The methodology is explained, and descriptive statistics bring insight to what librarians do as well as to the frustrations and roadblocks they experience. Let us start with the good news: some librarians are never frustrated with data questions. The bad news is that only 3% fall into that category. On the other hand, 83% mention 'managing patron expectations’ among their biggest frustrations. It sounds as if matching of expectations should be a course at library school. Maybe it is already, and users with high expectations simply do not understand the complexity of the work involved. Fortunately, some frustrations can be lessened by experience, but there are others – called roadblocks, e.g. paywalls or lack of geographic coverage ­– that all librarians meet. Among the comments after the survey was that data persist as a difficult source type for librarians to support. The questionnaire developed and used by Kubas and McBurney is found in an appendix.

The last article in this issue raises sustainability as an important issue for long term data preservation, and the concept forms part of the title of the submission 'CoreTrustSeal: From academic collaboration to sustainable services'. The paper is from an international group of authors comprising Hervé L'Hours, Mari Kleemola, and Lisa de Leeuw from UK, Finland and the Netherlands. The seal is a certification for repositories curating data. The last sentence in the abstract sums up the content of the paper: 'As well as providing a historical narrative and current and future perspectives, the CoreTrustSeal experience offers lessons for those involved in developing standards and best practices or seeking to develop cooperative and community-driven efforts bridging data curation activities across academic disciplines, governmental and private sectors'. In order to attain CoreTrustSeal TDR certification and become a Trustworthy Digital Repository (TDR), the repository has to fulfil 16 requirements and the CoreTrustSeal foundation maintains these requirements and the audit procedures. The certification draws on preservation standards and models as found in Open Archival Information Systems and in the catalogues of ISO and DIN standards. The authors emphasize that the CoreTrustSeal is founded on and developed in a spirit of openness and community. The paper's sharing of the experience follows that spirit.  

Submissions of papers for the IASSIST Quarterly are always very welcome. We welcome input from IASSIST conferences or other conferences and workshops, from local presentations or papers especially written for the IQ. When you are preparing such a presentation, give a thought to turning your one-time presentation into a lasting contribution. Doing that after the event also gives you the opportunity of improving your work after feedback. We encourage you to login or create an author login to (our Open Journal System application). We permit authors 'deep links' into the IQ as well as deposition of the paper in your local repository. Chairing a conference session with the purpose of aggregating and integrating papers for a special issue IQ is also much appreciated as the information reaches many more people than the limited number of session participants and will be readily available on the IASSIST Quarterly website at  Authors are very welcome to take a look at the instructions and layout:

Authors can also contact me directly via e-mail: Should you be interested in compiling a special issue for the IQ as guest editor(s) I will also be delighted to hear from you.

Karsten Boye Rasmussen - May 2019

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