THIS is a tribute to a passionate librarian, the founding member of the National Information Workers Association of Namibia (Niwan) and the late deputy minister of higher education, training and innovation, honourable Veno Kauaria.
Niwan and the library and archives sector remember Kauaria as a passionate librarian, researcher and information expert.
Kauaria worked as a founder director for the Information and Resources Centre at the United States embassy in Windhoek from 1991 to 2007, as director of the Namibia Library and Archives Service from 2007 to 2017, and as deputy executive director of lifelong learning in the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture from 2017 to 2019.
Kauaria contributed immensely to research, reference and outreach services to the public, and ensured that information seekers and researchers were accorded a platform to freely access information that would contribute to the improvement of their lives.
Her experience, passion and understanding of global issues related to libraries and archives helped her elevate the performance of libraries and archives in the country.
Some of the remarkable projects and initiatives that were successful under her supervision were the construction of regional libraries in the Ohangwena, Oshana and Omaheke regions, the deployment of computers and internet connectivity to most of the public libraries in the country, training on information and communication technology for community members, an improved budget for libraries and archives, and capacity building initiatives for both librarians and archivists.
Kauaria was instrumental in setting high standards for libraries, record centres and archives services in the country as per decentralisation framework, and overseeing the training of record management for various ministries and institutions as mandated by the Archives Act.
Kauaria’s contribution to the development of the information sector was not only felt at national level, but internationally as well.
She represented Namibia in various professional associations and on boards related to libraries and archives.
She served as the president of the eastern southern African regional branch of the International Council on Archives from 2009 to 2011, was a member of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s library advisory committee, advising on the needs and trends of African libraries as development partners, and was also a mentor of the International Network of Library Innovators, another Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation programme, where she mentored international information specialists and librarians on how to bring innovation to libraries for the benefit of development and education of communities.
Kauaria was a member of the Diasporic Literary Archives, an international network of partners dealing with the scholarly version of endangered and migrating archives around the world by looking at the preservation and promotion of access to information.
She was also a board member of the Online Computer Library Centre and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) as IFLA Africa member and IFLA Africa standing committee member.
Though Kauaria was appointed as a member of parliament in 2019, she was still a member of Niwan, and actively participated in most of its activities.
Niwan members vividly remember her last speech at the closing of the Standing Conference of Eastern, Central and Southern African Library and Information Conference Associations conference in February this year at the Safari Hotel, where she spoke about librarians as politicians.
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She indicated that since resources are becoming scarcer, information professionals need to be involved in the “politics of engagement, communication and persuasion. In other words, the politics of reaching out and innovation”.
Given all these attributes, the information sector has lost a mother figure, a mentor and an advocate.
The libraries and archives agenda will never be the same without Kauaria’s input, however, her contribution to the sector and the country in general will forever be treasured.
Our pillar has fallen.
Farewell, our beloved mentor.
May your soul test in eternal peace and glory!