CPDWL Podcast Project Season 2, Episode 5: Nyakundi James Nyambane

Colleagues, we are excited to announce the our next episode (for season 2) of the CPDWL Podcast Project where we feature library and information professionals who support and participate in professional development work.

See here for the podcast: https://anchor.fm/ifla-cpdwl/episodes/S2E5-Nykundi-James-Nyabane–CPDWL-Standing-Committee-Member-enkpcv

The transcript below.

Nyakundi James Nyambane is a Librarian- User services at the United States International University Africa, Library and Information Center. Based in Nairobi Kenya. He is a CPDWL member and serves currently as the Vice-Chairperson of the Nairobi branch (Kenya Library association). He is a Co-founder of the New Information professionals Caucus that unites all new information professionals in Kenya. A passionate librarian, open for collaborations within the globe.


Hi, this is Raymond Pun, Welcome to the IFLA CPDWL Podcast Project. In this space, we talk with library and information professionals who support and participate in professional development work.. Today’s guest is Nyakundi James Nyambane. Nyakundi James Nyambane is a Librarian- User services at the United States International University Africa, Library and Information Center. Based in Nairobi Kenya. He is a CPDWL member and serves currently as the Vice-Chairperson of the Nairobi branch (Kenya Library association). He is a Co-founder of the New Information professionals Caucus that unites all new information professionals in Kenya. A passionate librarian, open for collaborations within the globe.

Thank you so much for having me. I am grateful.

Yeah, we’re really excited to have you here. And we wanted to have a conversation with you about your work, your background. And if you had to describe yourself using only one word. What word would it be?


Right Ray, I say. I’ll say, I use passionate. I am a passionate librarian; I am a passionate person whatever you decide to do i do it with a lot of passion. I was torn between also using our passion and open minded but they say that passion, passionate.


Good choice of words and we know that based on your bio through are really obviously passionate for open collaboration, you have been active in the new information professionals pockets, within your country as well as within Islam. So, this is an interesting question for our audience today, what compelled you to become a librarian, how did you get started.


I, I didn’t know that I will be a librarian at one time. After I finished my form here in Kenya you choose a college or university. So, I wanted to take nothing. I applied to the nursing school, they never got back to me. So after I got that the intake was over all my other colleagues were already taken and started schooling. I went to one of my uncles, and my uncle suggested that I try a library school.  And my first reaction was, No way. I can’t be a librarian.


Um, later on, I got to visit a librarian. And we had a conversation. And he shared with me on how librarianship is transforming how librarianship is changing, and that changed my perspective because my perspective was the local libraries that we where we land. And this primary and secondary schools, they were the libraries were very not in good condition they were pathetic. So, after getting to sense those, the librarian changed my perspective, I thought, well, I can give it a shot I went to a library school. It took me four years to finish my undergraduate after finishing my before I found I finished my undergraduate, I went to do my attachment. My attachment I did it at my current institution, which is a, an academic library, and I got exposed by like the institution and I promised myself one day I’ll come back to work here. So I went back to finish school and came back after school again for internship. When I came for internship, there was an opportunity that happened up into that time. And then I got shortlisted did my interviews luckily I was selected in this institution so that’s how I got myself in librarianship. At first it was not my thing. Secondly, went to library school when it came to attachment and later did my internship at the same institution. And then I like in librarianship now I’m in.

And I’m glad that I chose librarianship. And we’re really glad that you’re in the profession with us. So that’s a really interesting journey you’ve described. And I wonder I wonder about your specialization when you went to school with did you have something in mind focused on one area, or did you want it to be a generalist. Yes At first, right, I thought I was. I was, I okay I thought I will take it libraries.


When I got through my third year, I was encouraged to do librarianship now as an option because here in Kenya. We have four options we have librarianship, we have records, we have it, and we have media. So I chose librarianship because I thought it’s an area for us here, that is growing. And I thought that the opportunities here in librarianship are better than in other areas like IT, where other specialists have already taken over so I did librarianship in my undergraduate and I specialized in library and information science.


So what does global librarianship mean to you, and has that changed, you know, since you started, and now being active in our section.


Okay. Um, global librarianship, to me, is, is the way. Currently, how librarians network, globally, and how people are librarians are working hand in hand to promote and increase, sharing and dissemination of ideas information and also how librarians are providing solutions to obstacles are surrounding our current environment. Also librarianship now is also changing adapting to different socio economic, environmental and political environment that we are in librarianship now I view it as is a solution to what our current society is facing, because librarianship is being sought after to provide specific information. So global librarianship to be seems like a collaboration whereby we can have librarians from all over the world. Working together and supporting each other in terms of disseminating and providing and supplying, or assisting users globally.


Yeah, those are really great points, and it certainly falls under influence work with trying to look at the UN, United Nations Sustainable Development Goals SDGs. Right. Yes. Yes. So working together, and addressing these issues that you were mentioning.

So let’s move, let’s move to the IFLA work. and how did you first get involved with IFLA?


Um, I’ve first got involved with IFLA. Okay, before I first got in involved with IFLA, I’ve always been following IFLA. Since I think 2016 2016 2017, I’ve been following how it’s conducting its activities I subscribe to lists of emails I will get updated on what I’ve realized doing so in 2018.


Late 2017 when there was a call for papers, I did an abstract for poster.


And I started looking forward to attending the 2018 one labor information conference in Kuala Lumpur. So my first time to be in a flat was in 2018, and I had a poster that I was presenting in Kuala lumper.


In 2019, again, we, I will not manage to go to events but I did, we did a post again with my colleague who went and presented a poster, in essence, so I have been involved. I started being involved in 2018 and 2019 before 2020 came and then it was cancelled. So that’s how I got myself being involved with IFLA.


So can you share with us a memorable moment you have at the WLIC perhaps in 2018, or some meeting or webinar you’ve attended recently.


Um, since I’ve been attending IFLA in 2018. I’ve always been following. What IFLA does what CPDWL is doing, and also what the new information professional caucus, and the information professional new special interest group is doing in IFLA.


That was my first time to attend to our World Conference. And I was so surprised to see so many librarians, in one place. And the opening ceremony is an event that keeps on coming to my mind whenever I think about IFLA. It was very nice. I enjoyed everything in the opening ceremony.  And in Kuala lumper.


We also visited the public library where I learned a lot about what other libraries are doing. Also, in the newcomers session at the IFLA conference, I attended the newcomers session.


It was very informative and we learned I learned a lot. It changed my perspective on  librarianship. I also attended the, the professional new, new professional new information professionals session which was on our library and fashion. And it was very memorable event that I was in. Also the exhibition center. I have never been to such a large exhibition area, and it to me. I land on every new technologies that our libraries are embracing, and also different approaches that librarianship is taking now and for the future of this field in this field.

So you mentioned that you attended the forum at the Congress, and your perspective on library librarianship change how so?

There was discussions on how they are collaborating. How librarians are doing projects, our librarians are not only in their offices. Librarians I learned that they have lifted their office, they’re going beyond their offices that when proposals for funding, those things. At first, I never had, I had not been close into those people were doing such great projects are no, I also learned that they are also new professional they are not that it’s not that they have been in the profession for so long, but some of them were new information professionals like now I can use the example of the Senegal, there was a project that was presented from Senegal with that was so inspiring on the community library that was, was developed and other different projects even from in Tanzania, some actually were also African based and then we were challenged also, me and my colleagues from Kenya. Now we thought that when we get back we will work on something also we develop our community library so that they can be better.


It was a really great experiences and moments you have shared with us. Now can you tell us what are you most excited about in the profession of this profession is?


Let’s say, let me start by I walk in an academic library. So, our users, our students, faculty and our staff.  We support teaching and learning. Here at my institution. We support Research Services. And every time we touch are alive we support we teach them on how to do research, we teach them on how to find information resources. And we find that it’s so fulfilling when you realize that you have helped someone as become a better person, a better researcher as librarians. We also support the freedom to read and think, we support, and we champion, the rights to access to, or have access to information to all of our students regardless of where they come from, regardless of their tribe regardless of their race or social background regardless of how old or young Leah, so we get excited. Once we get back the feedback from them, saying that they are so grateful that we have touched their life, we have changed their perspective on the life story. We have changed their perspective on a specific class because now we have availed the resources for them that they wanted to do for research and science so we get a. I get what we call. You say, motivation, I get that’s how I drive my motivation from.


So it sounds like there’s been a lot of activities you’re doing, and even in your current workplace, and also in Islam and I’m curious here. Is there a professional development tip, or advice that you’d like to share with others, particularly those who are new, and or would like to be involved in IFLA and I know you had mentioned earlier, going to the conference and doing presentations and meeting with people and I wonder if there anything else you’d like to add?


Yesterday, um, I’d like to say for new information professionals who are joining the profession.


I like them to, I like to advise them to join professional associations. Join your local professional association and participated, don’t just join without participating.


Keep planning, take short courses, learn from what other people are there to work, collaborate with other people. It builds someone’s network and also builds the confidence of a librarian. I will also encourage the new information professionals to write papers way if there is an opportunity they can do posters, they can collaborate with experienced writers, or experienced the librarian so that they can learn from them on how specific projects are done specific papers are done, so that they can also become experts in their future. It’s good to network. And it’s also good to collaborate with other new information profession, or other professional in this field. Certainly, those are really great advice there. Now we wanted to ask you something a little bit different here. If you didn’t work in libraries, what profession, other than librarianship would you have wanted to attempt a definitely I could be honest, I missed the nursing school opportunity.


So, it was my first choice, then my second choice was I didn’t have actually more of a second choice but my first choice was nothing so I will be honest, I will be nursing patients as our users.


Oh wow, that’s interesting.


Potentially, if you were interested in health sciences research. The work we do to connect with researchers, as well. I know a lot of librarians who are subject liaison to nursing students.


I didn’t hear you correctly. Right.



Yes, great just to confirm. Now here’s a question here. Can you tell us about a recent project presentation or program that you’re working on.


Um, thank you, Ray, um, my, what we are working on currently is our second information professional Comcast cup.


Last year, what we are currently is the second information camp. We invited you, you were one of our guests. We are going to have the second one, on fifth of March in 2021. We, we are collaborating with our National Library Association.

That’s Kenya Library Association. We are collaborating with our Kenya National Library Services, which is our national library service provider. And we also collaborating with Wikimedia Foundation Kenya to have that much event a success so we are working towards having our second information professional camp. Cocoa stamp in Kisumu. Kisumu is part of Kenya on fifth of March this year. The last time we had the information professional corpus we rallied so many librarians and now since then we have had so the impact has been higher but especially now our national association, people.

The new professionals are registered and they’re participating in our  National Library events. Previously, they were the youth and the new information professional felt that they were left out in some of these activities so we give them a platform, through the IPC to negotiate and say what they want to do, how they like to participate in our national association events are a second or second project that we are working on is we are having a bunch of conference in this December in like a week’s time, so I am also part of the team that is organizing and trying to organize, how the program will be and then see how we have our first virtual information conference. We’ve never had such in Kenya, and you know Kenya, we have a few challenges your internet here and there and also financially, the people now due to COVID are kind of struggling so we are trying to see how we are going to balance between the two, the internet and the financially and also have a productive conference. Right.


Oh, that sounds really good a lot of busy activities there. And that’s really exciting too because that just shows how collaborative, how focused, you’re doing your associations are to providing professional development learning and engagement. And with that couldn’t be thank you so much for talking to us and taking the time to share with us your thoughts and insights in the profession.


Thank you so much Ray I appreciate for having me and I’m so grateful.

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