Open Journal Systems
If you stretched a tightrope over a landscape, and then walked the tightrope, how would that landscape look? It is an interesting question. Landscape. We all have many landscapes in our lives. There are physical landscapes, mental landscapes, professional landscapes. All present one way to view terrain. At times the terrain needs only to be understood. At other times, it needs to be navigated as we move through, over, and in the landscape.
This issue of World Libraries presents a landscape of library activity. The first three articles move us as readers from the deserts of Africa to Asia and back to Africa, to libraries in Uganda and Sierra Leone. In the first of two parts, Krätlis Book and the Sand: Restoring and Preserving the Ancient Desert Libraries of Mauritania, helps us experience the dry Sahara desert, seemingly uninhabitable yet connecting the East and West through the ancient highways of trade and commerce that led to the development of a route for the book trade. Efforts to collect and preserve these early collections are described in the context of growing historical interest in the region. New and better technologies assist us in the preservation and conservation of materials, making knowledge of this ancient book landscape accessible to us today and in the future.
The second article in this movement through geographical landscapes brings us in contact with the history and roles of libraries in China in the past century. Setting a context through a brief summary of Chinese libraries prior to 1900, Sturgeon focuses attention on Chinese library development and librarianship in the last century. The author concludes that China�s libraries will be an important institution as China engages more fully in a postmodern future.
These articles, set in separate geographical landscapes, inform us about the interaction between space, collection, service, and culture.
The final two articles return us to Africa, south of the Sahara. These papers focus on the use of library collections. A Study of the Information Seeking Behavior of Undergraduate Students of Makerere University, Uganda by Kakai, IkojaOdongo and KigongoBukenya, reports on a study that produced information to support a wide range of recommendations to improve access and use of the librarys collection. Similarly, Kargbo from Sierra Leone discusses collection development and academic library service in relation to adult learners and lifelong learning endeavors. Both articles focus on the need for careful building of collections and thoughtful methods to encourage use of those collections. Both articles provide insight into user needs experienced in these two African countries.
Welcome to the new landscape of World Libraries. While continuing the tradition of sharing knowledge about the richness and nuances of librarianship in a global context, the move to electronic publishing provides new opportunities to disseminate this knowledge and creates new landscapes to engage and enrich our minds.
Mary M. Wagner is Professor and Director of the MLIS Program at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minn.
Email: mmwagner [at] stkate [dot] edu
© 2005 Mary M. Wagner