Libraries must no longer be simply seen as places to store books and information but as dynamic hubs of innovation and collaboration, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Library Authority, Hayford Siaw, has stated.
“They must be places where people can come together to learn, explore and create using the latest technology and tools to develop innovative solutions to our most pressing challenges,” he added.
Mr Siaw stated that when he addressed the 5th African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA) conference and the 7th African Library Summit in Accra yesterday.
It is on the theme; "Future of learning, libraries, and sustainable development in Africa,"and being attended by 250 participants from 36 countries.
Among other things, the first conference was held in Accra, Ghana, in 2015 with the second one being held in Yaounde, Cameroon, in 2017.
The third event was organised in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2019 while the fourth was a virtual one in 2021, coordinated from the headquarters in Accra .
Mr Siaw noted that people would be able to make more informed decisions about their lives if they had access to information and that “communities that give timely and appropriate information to all residents are better positioned to eliminate poverty and inequality, improve agriculture, provide quality education, support people's health, culture, research, and creativity.
“In this day and age, the importance of libraries in society is greater than ever.
They have been the foundations of education and information, and the development of digital technology has given the library and information service professions a new dimension. Future libraries must evolve and adapt to the evolving demands of patrons,” he emphasised.
The CEO of the GhLA said although he was optimistic about the future of libraries in Africa, it would necessitate collaboration, creative thinking and the development of innovative approaches to suit the changing requirements of communities.
“We must be beacons of hope and agents of change.
We must strengthen our alliances and collaborations, fight for additional government funding and support, and interact with our communities in new and dynamic ways.
The Deputy Minister in charge of General Education, Rev. John Ntim-Fordjour, who represented the sector Minister, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, to open the conference, said the theme for the event was apt regarding the continent’s situation today.
According to him, it reflected the present-day realities and challenges of the future of learning in Africa, as well as the need to figure out how the roles of libraries of all types would promote learning which would lead to sustainable development.
“The last couple of years have seen immense shifts in the way people learn formally, as the pandemic caused changes, flexibility and reshaping in the education sector.
The need for the workforce in various fields to update their skills has grown astronomically and this has brought on new ways of gaining skills and knowledge for charting progressive career paths.
Young people are adding additional skills to their certificates in order to improve their employability,” he said.