2nd African Public Libraries Summit
The African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA) held a two-day African Public Libraries Summit as a post-conference event of the SCECSAL Conference in Swaziland from 30th April – 1st May 2016.
The Theme of the Summit was “21st Century Public Libraries–innovation develops communities”. Sub-themes were “Innovation; Community needs and Development Agenda (AU 2063, UN 2030, and 2015 Cape Town Declaration). The purpose of the AfLIA 2016 2nd Public Library Summit was to enhance the knowledge of the African Public Librarians on new and emerging technologies which they can use to deliver their services; the importance of factoring the needs of the community in library service provision; and draw attention to the role of the public library in realising the African Union 2063, UN 2030 Development Agendas and the Cape Town Declaration by African Ministers.
Organisers of the Summit (AfLIA) hosted over eighty (80) participants from the African continent and beyond. These were National and Public Library leaders, Policy makers in the National and Public Library sector, Young emerging public library leaders who are the future of public library services in Africa as well as global Organisations and Professionals working in partnership with African libraries.
Keynote and welcome addresses were delivered by the Director of Global Libraries of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ms. Debora Jacobs and the President of AfLIA, Mr. John Tsebe. In her welcome address she stated that there are a mass of innovative, effective and sustainable libraries, led by well trained, knowledgeable and motivated professionals who through their effort, have developed a vibrant network offering a range of innovative products fully responsive to the needs of local communities. Librarians therefore provide useful information services enabling improved livelihoods and broadening the choices of individuals for a better life. As a result of this, Libraries have become the pride of their communities; they are community meeting and ‘happening’ places where all want AND CARE to be seen. She therefore challenged the participants to pledge to themselves and the African Continent to commit to building and strengthening the innovative library activities started by Global Libraries as they exited and also stay energised after the summit.
The Summit was also attended by the IFLA Secretary General, Mr. Gerald Leitner; Officials of AfLIA and some members of the AfLIA Governing Council, some Directors of National and Public Libraries in Africa, representatives from organisations such as World Reader; Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) and Book Aid International. The Summit was co-sponsored by AfLIA and the Global Libraries Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Presentations on innovative ideas and activities being undertaken by individuals and libraries in both Africa and other developed countries were made. Among some of the presentations made were “Leveraging on organizational culture for innovative services: a case study of Prof. Kenneth Dike State Central eLibrary, Awka presented by Dr. Mrs. Nkem Ekene Osuigwe; “Geeks, Games and Gadgets - Innovative Services and the Transformation of Space by Hannelvore Vogt; “Understanding your community needs: A golden pathway to successful public library‘s service” by Ramune Petuchovaite; “Community needs – Mapping and Using Community Needs by Mary Kinyanjui; “Public library innovative service enhances ICT skills of rural school children” by Alikem Tamakloe and “Digital Libraries In Public Spaces –Addressing Community Needs” by Joan Mwachi-Amolo. Participants shared innovative ideas through discussions, a “market place of Ideas” session at the end of each day and an unconference session.
At the end of the two days summit, participants acquired new skills and were encouraged to start with new services and ideas at their various libraries.
About the author
Ms. Doreen Appiah is a Ghanaian. She works as a Programme Officer for African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA). She is a Librarian by Profession. Ms. Appiah holds a Master’s Degree in Information Studies from the University of Ghana.