Ghana will host the 3rd roundtable conference for African Ministers responsible for libraries in Accra from October 29-30 this year during which the ministers will deliberate on developments on the provision of library and information services in Africa.
The conference which will be on the theme, “Libraries on the African Development Agenda : Progress made,” will be taking place within the framework of the AU 2063 Agenda, the Charter for African Renaissance and related outcomes of the AU Commission meeting held in Algeria in October 2018.
Aim of the conference
To be chaired by the Minister of Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, the conference aims at providing leadership and guidance on how governments could integrate libraries in their national development plans and ensure the allocation of resources towards the achievement of the development goals.
The conference, which is expected to be attended by participants from 25 countries, 15 of whom are ministers responsible for libraries, is a collaborative effort between the Minister of Education through the Ghana Library Authority (GhLA) and the African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AFLIA).
Countries expected to be represented are Morocco, Algeria, South Africa, Angola, Central Africa Republic, and Madagascar. The rest are Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mali, Burundi, Lesotho and Cameroon.
Speaking ahead of the conference, the Chief Executive Officer of the GhLA, Mr Hayford Siaw, told the Daily Graphic that there would be a meeting of the National Librarians / Directors of Library Services on October 28, 2019 to consider various interventions which had been made towards the desired goals in the past year.
He explained that on October 30, 2019, a report on the directors’ meeting would be presented as well as reports from the CEO of the GhLA, Mr Siaw, and other bodies on how libraries met the development agenda and the way forward.
Mr Siaw said the conference would serve as a forum for sharing of ideas, innovations and “also to get countries to commit to invest and allocate resources for libraries.”
Importance of libraries
“As you know, a library is one area that is not easily supported and so we are easy targets and so this forum is essential to get policy makers and decision makers to affirm their commitment to support library services in their respective countries,” he stated.
Mr Siaw underscored the important role of libraries in knowledge acquisition and the educational development and was excited that patronage of libraries in the country had increased in recent years.
He said on physical visits alone in 2017, about 42,814 people accessed various library facilities across the country, increasing to 725,751 in 2018, representing 70 per cent increase. He, therefore, expressed the hope that the number would increase in 2019 when the strategies were fully implemented