African Studies Library Hosts West African Research Center (WARC) Librarian Badara Sarr
The African Studies Library (ASL) recently hosted Aliou Badara Sarr, Chief Librarian of the West African Research Center (WARC) in Dakar, Senegal, for a three-week training and networking visit. The West African Research Center is an overseas research center for the West African Research Association (WARA), whose US program is based here at Boston University. The Center in Dakar serves a key role in facilitating academic exchange and research between American and West African scholars.
The ASL Librarians assisted Mr. Sarr in the planning and drafting of a collection development plan for the WARC Library, creating a library web page and becoming familiar with the cataloging and patron management functions of their library system, LibraryWorld.
While he was here, Mr. Sarr had opportunity to tour Harvard University’s Widener and Lamont Libraries. He also had a virtual meeting with Dr. Gerald Rizzo and ASC Research Affiliate Dr. Tim Weiskel concerning the Afriterra Cartographic Free Library and its digital map collections. Perhaps the most meaningful and unexpected part of his visit was a meeting with Boston Public School (BPS) librarians at Fenway High School. This connection led to a serendipitous follow-up visit to the Hennigan K-8 School in Jamaica Plan, where librarians were in the process of setting up LibraryWorld as the new system for their school library. They graciously invited Badara to join them and follow along, working on his own library’s instance of LibraryWorld.
Good communication and clear goals that were articulated both before and during the visit ensured Mr. Sarr’s time at BU was successful. Mr. Sarr identified specific topics and issues at the outset and a flexible schedule allowed for prioritization. He was also able to work directly in his own library catalog, testing out various real-life scenarios and potential problems with ASL staff helping to troubleshoot and serve as thought partners.
Mr. Sarr arrived in Boston with a library catalog housed on a Google spreadsheet and a list of patrons recorded on a handwritten form. He returned to Senegal with a functioning online library catalog and website, an online form to register library patrons and record their visits, and boxes full of barcodes and barcode scanners to greatly facilitate circulation of books. So much was accomplished within a short three weeks! The visit exceeded expectations on all sides and culminated in a wonderful presentation that Mr. Sarr made to the BU Libraries Staff the day before his departure.
Supported by funding from the US Department of Education through its designation of the ASC as a Title VI National Resource Center for African studies, Mr. Sarr’s visit contributed to BU’s strategic priority for global engagement and paves the way for further collaboration with WARC and other international partners.