Monthly Archives: October 2021

The Art of Virtual Conference Attendance: WLIC 2021

Last August, I attended my first-ever IFLA WLIC virtual professional conference. As one of the speakers in the session “Why authentic relationships matter with indigenous communities”, I was giddy at the prospect of attending the conference and interacting with fellow speakers, especially under the Indigenous librarianship section. Even though I’m not a member of an Indigenous group in the Philippines or pursuing a related degree, I wanted to experience a virtual conference and be in an environment where books, writing, research, and library advocacy were the focus.

I attended the conference with library colleagues from the University of the Philippines – Diliman Campus, and we had a blast. Spending the days listening to fellow librarians talk about themes such as Indigenous librarianship and Mozart in music libraries; and exploring library projects in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek in Brussels and the Image Permanence Institute, lived up to my expectations. But as with anything in life, I realized after further reflection that I have a lot to learn about the art of virtual conference attending. Here are some areas I learned I need to improve on from my first virtual WLIC conference experience.

  1. Rest

The crowds were a bit overwhelming even though it was a virtual conference! I did not realize how packed the conference schedule was. Some days, we were in a zoom presentation at 8 a.m. and left at almost midnight. Sure, there are breaks for Q&A sessions, but it’s really hard when you’re an overachiever to feel like you can skip a session if you need a rest. I felt like I needed to attend every session because I was awarded to be there, but that’s pretty taxing. Maybe at future in person WLIC conferences, I’m going to be a bit more strategic about planning breaks throughout the day, even if it means skipping a session to sit alone in a corner somewhere and refresh.

  1. Make time for regular life

In addition to needing time to rest amid the crazy conference schedule, I also learned that in the future, I need to make time for certain aspects of my everyday life. For example, I didn’t sleep normally since some sessions started super early or ended late in the evening due to our difference in time zones. I finally made time to rest after it was over and had to prepare for a 30 hour flight from the Philippines to the USA for my graduate studies for Fall 2021. I learned that I can’t just focus solely on the conference; I need to also schedule time to talk to family, work colleagues, and people from my university.

  1. Session Schedules

I don’t regret spending time on this amazing virtual conference. I do regret not planning ahead more carefully with my preferred sessions. When you attend a virtual conference and have no idea what you want to attend, you end up staring at your computer a lot, scrolling through sessions and topics after topics. Next time I attend a virtual conference I’m going to have a list of a few topics and sessions I want to attend before I click on that zoom link and join.

  1. Internet Connection

It’s super challenging to join a zoom meeting and connect live for every single session when you’re at a virtual conference. Part of the problem here in my country was that I didn’t have a fast internet connection, especially if the session fell in the morning when a lot of people are also using lots of bandwidth. As a result, I couldn’t attend some of the sessions smoothly due to internet connectivity issues. For future virtual conferences, I’m going to plan out a few locations with good internet connectivity where I can set up beforehand. That said, some of the best parts of the conference were spent at late evenings and super early mornings (10pm until 4am in the morning in my time zone). It was also worth it to have a few snacks and drinks at hand while attending the Q and A sessions; it made hanging out with the attendees and exploring the conference platform even more fun.

  1. Explore

Luckily, the platform was user friendly. This is something I actually did explore when I had dry run sessions for my Indigenous librarianship talk and I’m so glad the help desk team made time to teach us to walk around or navigate the platform and get to know it a bit prior to attending the virtual conference.

  1. Network

I’ll admit that I didn’t really talk to a lot of people at the conference. The only people I talked to included my work colleagues, the registration help desk people, the panelists at the Indigenous librarianship session, and some people at Q&A sessions. I recognize how this is not ideal. One of the main opportunities of virtual conferences is to mingle (email, chat), network, and to meet people who can later connect you to your dream job, career, research, etc. But, I had no idea what to expect in this virtual environment. There were a lot of people in various sessions at various times. And I didn’t really have anything to say to anyone other than asking questions during the Q&A or during the dry run and live session with my panelists at the Indigenous library session. That’s not a great excuse though; at future events, I’m going to push myself and set goals to talk to more people.

  1. Notes

I did take notes consistently throughout the sessions I attended, and I can’t imagine attending a virtual conference and NOT taking notes. I’m not the best at remembering verbal presentations, so scribbling stuff down helps keep it in my memory. After all, there’s really no point in paying to go to hear people talk about various themes such if you aren’t going to remember any of it a week later.

In conclusion, I enjoyed my first virtual WLIC 2021 conference experience. I could have planned a better experience using the takeaways above, but overall, it was an excellent week, and I learned so much. I’m excited to put these takeaways into action for my next conference in WLIC, hopefully in person, and I can’t wait for next year’s IFLA WLIC 2022

Gianina Angela Celine Cabanilla, University Researcher – University of the Philippines


Facilitating Research Output in Uganda: Opportunities and Challenges

General Background: Libraries as innovative and esteemed information producers all over the world have a tremendous impact in the academic and public spheres. In science and technology researchers rely on the librarian’s expertise in organizing, disseminating and archiving their output as a critical element in fostering inclusive participation in the global economy. By comparison, social sciences and humanities research will help reshape the social, economic and political landscape leading to improved service delivery. In Uganda as elsewhere, research output is reliant on the availability of research funding and the constant cultivation of a research culture among academic and research institutions.

Expected role of librarians in the Research Process
Librarians should:
Facilitate the discovery of content and utilization of information resources
Provide expertise on publishing and open access business models
Suggest channels to disseminate research output
Identify trustworthy environments for researchers to publish
Facilitate the development and maintenance of Institutional Repositories (IRs)
Provide training to researchers on resource location, literature review and information literacy
Facilitate scholarly communication and scientific publishing
Implement publisher policies for self-archiving
Facilitate subscription and access to electronic resources
Steps involved in the creation, publication, dissemination, and discovery of scholarly research follow a lifecycle involving several actors, such as researchers, peer reviewers, librarians, publishers, funders, technologists, RECs, and many more in between data collection and knowledge sharing.

[Hansen, 2018]
Science publishing is the gateway to research outcomes. It facilitates results sharing with the academic community and the public, primarily through journal articles and monographs, conference proceedings, working papers, and datasets through libraries.

Librarians’ expertise for evaluation of research impact
The research impact is useful for:
Accountability – to demonstrate to funders the value of their research investment and enhance the chances for further funding.
Understanding – to understand how research leads to impact, and thus ways in which it can be developed to maximize the impact of research findings
Performance evaluation – in developing standards for employment, performance evaluation and promotion of researchers.
Impact evaluation of research output enables the organization to gain an overall understanding of its performance and monitor how its contributions are disseminated to society.
Research impact Assessment

[Research4Life, 2021]
Librarians have a special skill set in Bibliometrics and use other indicators for assessing research impact that uses statistical methods to analyze books, articles, and other publications
Metrics that are used in research assessment include:
Scientometrics – Measures scholarly literature output of science in general, not limited to publications
Webometrics (cyber metrics) – Measures quantitative aspects of the construction and use of information resources, innovative data structures, and technologies on the Web
Informetrics – Measures production, dissemination, and use of all forms of information, regardless of its form or origin
Altimetrics – Measures how datasets are discussed and used around the world – page views/downloads, shares, mentions, bookmarks, applauds, reviews, comments, and reports

Libraries in Uganda rely on proactive partners, either national or international:
CUUL, Consortium of Uganda University Libraries
RENU, Research and Education Network for Uganda Free Services catalogue
ULIA, Uganda Library and Information Association
AFLIA, African Library & Information Associations & Institutions
AHILA, Association of Health Information and Libraries in Africa
EIFL, Electronic Information for Libraries
IFLA, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
INASP, International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications
SPIDER, Swedish Programme for ICT in Developing Regions
Let’s take a deeper look at the major two collaborating networks based in Uganda and focused on research promotion:
CUUL – Subscriptions and training, Collaboration and Networking
RENU- Bandwidth (Data), Web hosting, Back up, Research discovery tools, training
There have been very welcome moves by publishers, vendors and others working with libraries to facilitate access to content for researchers even when library buildings were forced to close due to COVID-19 Pandemic.
A key step has been to allow remote access to content that has been restricted to on-site users. For instance, VitalSource has worked with its publisher partners to broaden access to materials using only an email address to log-in, as did ProQuest through eBook Central and Springer through extended log-in periods and Emerald and others through remote access possibilities.
Consortium of Uganda University Libraries (CUUL)
The Consortium of Uganda University Libraries seeks to facilitate effective and efficient collaboration and resource sharing among uuniversity and Institutional libraries in Uganda in order to strengthen the library services provided to their clients. Key objectives include:
Improve the visibility of libraries and mobilize funding for collaboration
Help librarians become part of larger national, regional and international conversations
Researcher Focused Goals of CUUL:
To build the capacity and effectiveness of its member institutions.
Enhances access to quality information for learning, teaching and research; and develops resource sharing procedures
Improve research generation and publication of its member institutions
To advocate for the vital role of libraries in education, research and innovation in Uganda.
Strengthen leadership and membership capability related to advocacy
Build new and strengthen existing partnerships across a range of sectors, so that CUUL can play a vital bridging role in the knowledge economy
In addition, the RENU – CUUL official partnership seeks to:
Facilitate Research & Education collaboration
Research, cooperation and resource sharing
Support Research & Education transformation

Research and Education Network for Uganda Free Services catalogue:
The following resources and services are provided to academics free of charge under the RENU framework:
Institutional data traffic;
IPv4 public addresses + IPv6;
Web conferencing;
Cybersecurity – RENU CERT reports;
SSL Certificates;
Network traffic monitoring;
Open-source mirror;
Eduroam – eduVPN;
Trainings and workshops;
Technicians, researchers and librarians;
Resource Discovery Tools.
In addition, anti-plagiarism tool Turnitin is subsidized through bulk purchase


[RENU, 2019]


[RENU, 2021]
The Availability of Free Research4life Access for Uganda
Created with the initiative of UN under Kofi Anan, Research4Life is a public-private partnership of the FAO, WHO, UNEP, WIPO, ILO, Cornell University, Yale University, the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical (STM) Publishers and up to 160 international scientific publishers.
Research4Life was created to reduce the knowledge gap between high-income countries and low and middle-income countries by providing affordable access to important scientific research.
Research4life Project
Since 2002, the five programmes – Research in Health (Hinari), Research in Agriculture (AGORA), Research in the Environment (OARE), Research for Development and Innovation (ARDI), and Research for Global Justice (GOALI) – have provided researchers from more than 10,000 institutions in more than 120 low- and middle-income countries with free or low-cost online access to up to 119,000 leading journals and books in the fields of health, agriculture, environment, applied sciences and law. Further information is available at
Here below are a few examples of the rich palette of tools that can be subscribed to by Ugandan librarians and information professionals:
Web of Science – the largest citation research engine for acquiring, analyzing, and disseminating global research information;
Scopus – Elsevier’s Scopus , the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature;
Publons – Tracks research impact – publications, citation metrics, peer reviews and journal editing work, in one place;
Reference Managers – Mendeley, Zotero, Endnote;
Publisher e-resources Platforms – Wiley, EbscoHost, Emerald, Jstor, Elsevier, IEEE, etc.;
Research data repository registry –;
Antiplagiarism tools – Turnitin.

3. CHALLENGES Several challenges can frustrate the library’s noble duty. Below are some typical obstacles for academic libraries across the world:
Budget constraints;
Communication about changes within the library;
Training and career advancement;
Keeping up with changing technical requirements;
Virtual storage space and increased need to attain high internet speeds by expanding bandwidth.
Understanding research trends and the librarian’s role in the research cycle;
Keeping up with policy changes;
Managing and Sharing Research Output;
Countering the rise of predatory publishers;
Conveying the value of librarians to researchers;
Beyond these obvious difficulties, the Consortium of Uganda University Libraries (CUUL) has to address specific challenges:
Expensive subscriptions to publisher e-resources;
High cost of bandwidth for libraries and individuals;
Fluctuating subscription timelines by members;
Researchers need training and online support;
Eifel Funding for Research Repositories ended in 2019;
INASP funding for Library Consortiums ended 2019;
SIDA funding on e-resources and scholarly communication ended in 2020.
Conversely, the future of research in Uganda in our view should entail the following:
Improve budgetary allocation for research generation and dissemination;
Funding long-term sustainability of CUUL and RENU;
Trainings/workshops for researchers and scholars to foster end user engagement;
Collaboration between CUUL, RENU, INASP, RAF and other stakeholders
Connectivity improvement (International bandwidth and content cloud hosting) through RENU
Content development liaison & dissemination of research output with CUUL
Better research & publication with Researchers and Academics Forum (RAF)
Stronger LinkedIn presence and professional networking of Ugandan researchers
Institutional repository development for various institutions with CUUL
Subscription to the Web of Science platform

Facilitated by exponential growth of the global ICT sector and the arrival of the 4th Industrial Revolution in 2015, Librarians and Information professionals in Uganda are quite optimistic about their changing roles in facilitating research output. If research is to thrive and gain international visibility, CUUL and RENU need to exploit all the opportunities including creating lasting partnerships that are readily available and forge new ones that can enable Librarians and Information professional access relevant training, collaborative support and alternative funding hence increasing our potential to provide inclusive services based on global standards.

Further reading:
Consortium of Uganda University Libraries:
International Federation of Library Associations and institution:
International Network for Scientific Publications:
Research and Education Network for Uganda:
Hansen, Samuel (2018) Supporting Scholarly Communication
Top 10 Challenges for Academic Libraries in the 21St Century, (2018).

Andrew Ojulong
Senior Librarian | Ag. UL – Lira University,
PhD Scholar – College of Computing & Information Science, Makerere University
Contact: Mob: +256781308440; Email:; Net: