Angeline Djampou
Chief Librarian
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Interview Date:
October 30, 2008
Arusha, Tanzania
Lisa P. Nathan
Ronald Slye
Nell Carden Grey
64:30 - 71:07


Ronald Slye: How, how has this experience changed you?
I think I stated it before. This capacity building, the capacity building work, the outreach work has become – it is, it is not in the library’s mandate as a matter of fact but it has become a very important part of our work.
It really helps me, it really tells me that I am on the right track when I go to Rwanda and somebody sees me and says, (_) I don’t even recognize them all, “Oh, Mrs. Djampou thank you, you trained me two years ago on research skills. Thank you very much. This is really useful.”
Y-, just yesterday the judges who were h-, the, the, who were there, the Commonwealth judges, they came to me and they said, “Oh, you are Mrs. Djampou. You trained me.” I did not recognize them. I recognized one, the Vice President of the Supreme Court because I go to see him every time I’m in Rwanda. But the other judges I d-, I don’t recognize them but they always come to me and say “Oh you trained us. It was really helpful.”
And it h-, also helps me that, tells me that I’m, I'm on the right track when people write to me and they’re really not looking for information but they’re looking for sources of information. They’re, they're not expecting me anymore to carry out research for them but they will tell me, “Oh I’ve tried. I’m looking for this. I’ve tried here. I didn’t see. Could you advise me where else to find?”
So, yes it feels good that you've really contributed to, you know, training people, to building their capacity and to giving them some autonomy in your field. So, this now tells me that maybe I should continue. Maybe I should do that, maybe continue in Rwanda, ma-, b- but also elsewhere. And it tells me that it is very important.
We’ve been, we've been so told that library was, you know, not a good job. I remember my daughter telling me that, “Mom, why are you a librarian? Why couldn’t you be a lawyer or, or a doctor? Why are you just a librarian?” Because when she said her Mom was a librarian, her friends made fun of her, you see.
But now, this has given even myself another dimension of the work that I’m doing and that I should do it even better and even more.
RS: If somebody, if there was a new tribunal established today and there was somebody who was being asked to be the chief librarian but they weren’t sure if they wanted to do it, what would you say to them?
Sorry, I didn’t understand the question.
RS: So a, a new tribunal like the ICTR is created . . .
RS: . . . and there is a library that’s being created . . .
RS: . . . and they, there is, somebody has come to you . . .
RS: . . . who has been asked to be the librarian of that new tribunal but that person isn’t sure if they want to take the job.
Oh, okay.
RS: What would you say to them?
That they should not consider the role as just sitting in an office and catalogue books and order books. They should actually see the role as ag-, agents of change also and that actually being a librarian of an International Criminal Court is also, is, is also being contributing to the peace process in the world.
So to me it is a very big challenge and I’m honored that I’m doing it. And the-, and they should see a more – they should, they should look at the bigger picture because if you give a wrong information, even if you sit in your office and you give the wrong information to a people who needs information to s-, to make their case, you could screw it for them.
And if you give the right information, the success of the case is your success also, so they should see their role not as a librarian but as a part of, a part, a major part of the process. It, it, it takes some good decision-making and some judgment to contribute to a process like this.
RS: Is there anything else that you, we haven’t touched upon that you think would be important for people to know?
I think it is the same thing, the same realization that I did myself – that being a librarian is a big, is a big job. So I think if you want to promote peace and promote reconciliation, you should start with the prevention. And I think that the prevention starts with empowering people, giving them the information they need to know in order to make some decisions.
In Rwanda for instance, the literacy rate is very low. There are no libraries. People were sent to kill and people – most of the people who were killing were killing because they couldn’t judge themselves that this is g-, wrong or right, but because they were receiving orders from people who they consider role models.
If they had access to information, they could be role models to themselves and know that this is right or this is wrong. So the message that I’m sending is that – empower people with information, promote libraries wherever there is a need and I think we start there. Peace starts there.