Towards an integrated Kenya Union Catalog

The dream of a Kenya union catalogue is on the verge of reality! From what looked like a far-fetched dream a few years ago, finally there seems to be true signs of a breakthrough. On friday 24th, June, a group of librarians will converge at the Australian studies Institute (Westlands), to witness a demo of a live union catalogue featuring four libraries – the first realistic progress that has been made in the country. The demo is a culmination of efforts made by the Koha Kenya Community, Goethe Institut and KLA.

In a previous librarian’s workshop held in Nairobi and organized by Goethe Institut, the idea of a Kenya Union Catalogue was extensively deliberated and in a somewhat unison resolve, the need for a pilot project was long overdue. Koha Kenya Community was entrusted with the task of starting off the pilot project and the demo to be held at AUSI is the first major step towards this realization.

The idea of a Kenyan Union Catalogue has not been new. Many librarians in Kenya will agree that however, there has lacked meaningful efforts in the past towards this realization. This coupled by poor (or for crying out loud) lack of conformity to the International standards has been a major stumbling block. In fact it is this clustered use of standards and protocols that technically incited the use of Koha as the platform on which to implement the Union Catalogue. This is because all libraries using Koha generally use the same standards, notably the MARC21 standard.

With sufficient funding and technical support, the idea of a union catalogue now seems a near reality. But this should not be seen as an end by itself. The Koha Steering Commitee has shown intent to further the idea towards a federated live- search union catalogue and later to do a federated search of all metadata databases in Kenya and digital library repositories. Finally it looks that getting there is not a matter of whether but when.


8 Responses

  1. I am very impressed! I was unable to send our marc21 records due unavoidable cause. Otherwise thumps up and hoping to participate in the upcoming workshop on 24th June 2011 at Ausi, Nairobi Westlands.

  2. A union catalogue is a good idea that should now move on to being a reality. With OSS we have an option now, and no excuses. Lets step up and keep abreast with the rest.

  3. Scott Christian University Library ( is now running on Koha supported by ServanTek ( and would be interested in joining the efforts toward building Kenya Union Catalog (KUC).

    What needs to be done to be part of KUC?

    • Great news to have Scott on board. You can join the KUC initiative. Just email bt_am2004 at yahoo .com and you will be notified of progress made,current status and where you can play part.

  4. The initiative for a Kenya Union Catalogue seems to have lost impetus after relocating of Mr Mugambi to Rwanda. Goethe Institut, Keep the fire burning. I hope another hero will come around and steer the project to its fruition. South Africa has made big strides in this area while we Kenyan librarians are deep asleep. I have a Union Catalogue of some 14 libraries, mostly universities and colleges with almost half a million records. One challenge has been the disparities in classification numbers and subject descriptors. Ideally, there should only be one record for every title, but due to lack of uniformity, one is forced to create several records of the same title to capture those differences. My records are in Inmagic format, but I have a Marc Transformer that can convert them to Marc Records.

    My suggestion is that the KOHA community should offer to install the software in as many libraries as possible in Kenya at the lowest amount. The Kenya Union Catalogue portal should also allow users to download and upload their records with ease.

    On the other hand, bibliographical records are not enough to serve our modern users (Generation Y) who want the actual information (full text). Developers of KOHA should therefore go a notch higher to allow those with full text contents to upload them there. Think of the digital repositories we have been talking about.

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