Valeda Dent, Ph.D., is currently Dean, St. John’s University Libraries. Prior to joining the team at St. John’s, Dr. Dent served as Dean and Chief Operating Officer for the Libraries at Long Island University, and as the Interim Director of the Palmer School of Library and Information Science, also at Long Island University. Dr. Dent has also held administrative positions at Rutgers University and the Joint Information Systems Committee in London, England.
Dr. Dent holds an M.S.W. and M.I.L.S. from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. from the Palmer School at Long Island University. Her research interests include the impact of chronic poverty on development; rural libraries in Africa and related literacy and reading habits; ethnographic approaches to understanding the user experience; and information and techno-literacy. She has published several books, including Qualitative Research and the Modern Library (2011) and Rural Community Libraries in Africa: Challenges and Impacts (2014) with coauthors Geoff Goodman, Ph.D. and Michael Kevane, Ph.D.
Dr. Dent’s longitudinal research on rural village libraries in Uganda and elsewhere in Africa has spanned 12 years. Her work has been published in a wide variety of peer-reviewed journals and presented internationally at conferences in South Africa, Uganda, China, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and Swaziland. In 2013, Dr. Dent and her husband, Dr. Goodman, were both awarded the J. William Fulbright Foreign Award and Scholarship and spent eight months in two rural Ugandan village libraries establishing an intervention program to facilitate the development of school readiness skills in preschool children. Dr. Dent is the Founder of the Rural Village Libraries Research Network, a not-for-profit organization that conducts, promotes, and disseminates research related to the development and evaluation of rural libraries and information centers.
Dr. Dent and her husband live in New York with their five-year-old daughter, Carlyn.
Evaluating the Impact of Rural Village Libraries in Uganda: A Mixed-Methods Narrative
28th Annual Mortenson Distinguished Lecture by Valeda Dent, Ph.D., With contributions by Geoff Goodman, Ph.D.
Small non-governmental libraries in rural Uganda (and elsewhere in Africa) are scarce when compared with their more formal municipal counterparts. Where these libraries do exist, the impact on the communities they serve has been understudied, and often, undervalued. Anecdotally, the overall sense is that these libraries have positive benefits for their users, but an evidentiary base to support this positive impact is also important. An empirical demonstration of the influence of these libraries can enhance their continued development and growth in several ways, including supporting fundraising and grant funding opportunities.
This lecture will detail the longitudinal research from several small communities in Uganda: Kitengesa, Mpigi, Ggulama, and Kabubbu; and present project aims, research methods (qualitative and quantitative), outcomes, and implications. In particular, details related to the ongoing library-based preschool intervention, the Storytelling/Story-Acting (STSA) Protocol, will be shared. Finally, the role of two key organizations – Friends of African Village Libraries (FAVL) and the Uganda Community Libraries Association (UgCLA) – and the relationship between this research project and the aims of the Mortenson Center (“to strengthen international ties among libraries and librarians worldwide for the promotion of international education, understanding, and peace”) will also be discussed.