Several library and information events in Ghana over the next two months

It struck me a few days ago that  there are many, many library and information events going on in Ghana over the next couple of months or so, including:

  1. A TEEAL/ ITOCA training event going on (20-22 September 2016) at Wisconsin International University College, mainly for those involved in providing and accessing agricultural related information.
  2. The Ghana Library Association 4th Library and Information week celebration (26-30 September 2016), with a theme “Ensuring quality education for all:  the role of the librarian”.  The main launch is taking place in Tamale on 27 September.
  3. 2nd CARLIGH International Conference (28-30 September 2016) at CSIR-INSTI here in Accra, with a theme on “Knowledge management and information professionals”.
  4. The Conference of University Librarians and their Deputies (CULD) is holding a workshop on Procurement of information resources in academic and research libraries, taking place in Kumasi (6-7 October 2016).
  5. The Ghana Library Association is holding its 2016 Biennial Congress (20-21 October 2016) at the University of Ghana, Legon, with the theme “Libraries and the UN2030 agenda for sustainable development in Ghana”.
  6. UNESCO and CERN are holding a one week (28 November – 2 December 2016) School on Digital libraries at KNUST, Kumasi.

Currently I am planning to attend at least two of these events – no 3 (which I am involved in organizing) and no 5 (as a member of the GLA).

It is great to hear of so many opportunities open to members of my profession!

Another book event is also taking place next week:  Burt Award for African Literature – Award ceremony and book launch 2015, which is taking place on 28 September 2016, at British Council, Accra.  [Unfortunately I will miss this]

If anyone reading this wants more information, just let me know.


February 2013 book/information related activities and reads

A very belated report on my February book/information related activities and reads

I only finished reading four books during February – interestingly all written by males, an even split between
fiction and non-fiction, with three having an African/ African diasporan/ Ghanaian focus.

  • Chicago, by Alaa al Aswamy [this was on my list for the 2012 Africa Reading Challenge!  Stories of the Egyptian diaspora, mostly. Not as good as The Yacoubian building, in my opinion]
  • Pilgrims of the night – Development challenges and opportunities in Africa, edited by Ivor Agyeman-Duah [essays on Africa, loosely connected with an environmental focus]
  • Yes, Chef , by Marcus Samuelsson [memoir by the famous Ethiopian/Swedish chef. Being a enthusiast of books about food, I enjoyed this!  So how can I actually visit his restaurant?]
  • A life apart, by Neel Mukherjee [prize-winning book which has been on my TBR shelf for a long time. A story split between India and the UK, the present and the beginning of the 20th century]

Fastest billion at AshesiBook buying, which of course followed physical visits to bookshops, as opposed to visits to online book sites,
was OK. I bought four non-fiction books (three with an African focus), two novels, two Tintin books (to add to the family collection)  and one collection of Calvin & Hobbes comic strips.

As for book events/activities I could count probably four – though the last one doesn’t strictly have to do with books, though it did involve librarians.

  1. The author of The fastest billion, Charles Robertson, came to Ashesi for a presentation (essentially taken from the book), and of course there were copies of the book for sale, so how could I resist? Plus sales from the book are benefiting Ashesi, so how could I resist?
  2. There was also the monthly gathering of the Accra Book Club – rather sparse in attendance this month, I do admit – with a discussion of Of Africa, by Wole Soyinka. Not the easiest of reads, controversial (naturally), and I have to admit that I have yet to finish this book, though I am not giving up.
  3. No Worries 4th editionThe other bookish activity is a little different. I am a member of NAWA  which raises money for projects through sale of its guide to Accra, No Worries. The first edition came out in 1997, and the most recent edition – the 4th – in 2010. As this is beginning to be out of date, despite several changes on the companion website, it is time to put out a new edition, especially as there are an increasing number of non-Ghanaians coming to live in Accra, who want to know what’s available in this city.  At the moment there are a group of NAWA members working on the new edition, checking and updating entries, adding new ones, selling ads, and so on. I am just a little cog, working with colleagues on a few sections, but it is pretty satisfying. And then there is a role in updating the website…
  4. Bookish matters have blended more into information and electronic ones, and the last activity I wanted to mention pertained to CARLIGH – Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Ghana. Periodically CARLIGH organizes workshops for those working in member institutions (of which there are now nearly 30), and at the end of February there was a two-day event on “Searching e-resources”, which I helped to co-facilitate with a colleague from the University of Ghana, Legon.  Fun, because one always learns something new, and it is very relevant to what many librarians do nowadays.

February 2013 light-off at LapazAgain, my month was busier than I thought, though I still wish I could finish reading more books than I did.  But then there is the ever-present “light-off” phenomenon which has meant that we have only six days in February when the electricity stayed on for a full day! [the red writing indicates light-off]

Lack of 3G signals for MTN and Airtel

I have been a rather frustrated librarian/information professional over the last few days. I attended a workshop at the Balme Library (University of Ghana, Legon) and although there was wifi, and the signal was good, I wasn’t able to access the internet. OK, I admit that this is probably due to some configuration on my own laptop, but on the other hand I did notice that others participants also had problems accessing the web.

And for a workshop on web-based software, that was a definite issue.

I had sort of anticipated that this could be an issue so on Day 1 I brought my Airtel/Zain modem. On the local radio stations here in Accra, one is constantly hearing that Airtel now has an ultra high-speed 3.75G network. Well, as a user, I have yet to see it. Certainly at Balme Library – on one of the upper floors – I didn’t have a good enough signal to even get onto my home page! Even in the area where I live, the signal is so-so: good in the mornings, especially on Sundays, and not terribly useful most of the rest of the time.

So on Day 2 of the workshop I decided to bring my MTN modem – which seems to work better, though I have to admit that I wasn’t totally optimistic, since I wasn’t sure whether the signal would be good enough. Why? Despite MTN’s ads that their 3G coverage is high, it certainly hadn’t been registering as such on my smartphone – at least while in the Balme Library!   Grrr…

Have I been able to do any browsing during this three day workshop? Well, the answer is no, not really. Again, no 3G and even the 2G allowed only minimal browsing on my phone, and almost none on my laptop. Sigh.

I end on a plea to the telecom operators: deliver what you promise!  We consumers are not stupid!

What is an e-library?

I am curious.

“What is an e-library?”

I am sure some will wonder why I even ask this question, as I am a librarian, working in the 21st century, so
at least I should have some answers, so why pose the question at all?

I ask this question, because during the last few days I have seen an advert in both The Ghanaian Times and the Daily Graphic newspapers for the following:

Invitation for Tenders
The Republic of Ghana
Ministry of Education
National Competitive Tendering (NCT)

Supply, installation and configuration of an e-library system.

Lot 1: Software application – quantity 1
Lot 2: Hardware – quantity 2

I have to admit that I wondered what was wanted?

Is the Ministry of Education planning to install an electronic library of e-books and e-journals? Or does it want to set up a virtual place where these could be placed? What will be the content of this e-library: books, textbooks, journals, articles, conference papers?  Who was it for? Would it be open access? or part of an intranet? If so, where would this content come from? How would it be managed? and promoted?

Or is this to be an institutional repository for the Ministry – basically an archive of documents and files produced by staff, ministers, consultants etc…? Or is it some kind of electronic filing system for the MoE?

I showed a copy of the advert to some professional colleagues, and they too were puzzled. Neither heard of this particular tender or what it was for, and both of these individuals are at the top of the library profession in Ghana.

NB:  Even the Public Procurement Authority doesn’t give many details in its tender details

So the question remains unanswered: “What is an e-library”?

What is the “Ghana Library” site offering?

Just saw Geosireads’ post on the Ghana Library site, which is being promoted at the University of Ghana.

can only say a great big thanks to him for mentioning this in his blog, as I certainly wouldn’t have known about it otherwise.

Certainly it sounds very interesting, but as usual, there is very little information on the Home page to tell someone what the actual content is.  There are implications that institutions have subscribed, and students have automatic rights to accounts, but according to Geosi, there are going to be scratch cards available to gain access, and these will require a payment of fifteen Ghana cedis (approximately ten US dollars).

There are some contact details – local, Ghanaian mobiles, and web-based emails, which I will definitely follow-up on – from work though, as this seems like it is aimed at an academic community.   And I do work in one, after all!

My questions are:  what is the content available?  How does one access it?  Does it have to be read online only?  What kind of downloading can be done?  What about printing? Are there time constraints – especially if scratch cards are involved?

With internet connections so relatively expensive and variable in this part of the world, something which sounds fine may not actually be so when you try to open a file over an erratic connection, which is what most of us are using.

So I would like to see what is on offer, and how easy it is to use.

And on a more general basis, I am wondering whether the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Ghana (CARLIGH) are aware of this initiative, or have been approached to be a conduit for such ebooks.

There is definitely some work to do before I give my opinion on the new “Ghana Library”. A second post will definitely be a necessity!

More on BarCamp Ghana 2010

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I did attend BarCamp Ghana 2010 – which actually makes it my third!  Not too bad, I think.

I will not go on at the length that my colleague, Nana Fredua Agyeman, has written but I would like to offer a few comments.  I did attend the same sessions that Nana mentioned:  journalism and citizen journalism, telling the African story/ies and blogging.

I did miss Farida Bedwei’s presentation though – often one would like to clone oneself so that one can attend more than one session at a time, but it was not to be.  Well, I did see what the Twitter feeds were on the subject (see the hashtag #bcghana), not too detailed but definitely gives one a flavour of what was going on.

For me the best thing was meeting people I may see sporadically – some at GhanaBlogging, some at other BarCamps, but it is also a great chance to meet face-to-face with those one has online contacts.

And I was reminded that there are so many connections between us here in Ghana, as I met someone who was a relative of a work contact who turned out to have attended college in the US where my daughter went for medical/graduate study!  Small world…


BarCamp Ghana 2010 taking place on 18 Dec 2010 at Ashesi

BarCamp Ghana 2010

BarCamp Ghana 2010, an ad-hoc gathering where attendees meet for discussions, demos and networking, will take place on December 18 2010 at the Ashesi University campus in Accra. The theme is  “Create dreams, work smart and shape the future”. Following the successes of BarCamp Ghana ’08 and BarCamp Ghana ’09, regional BarCamp events were organized in KumasiAccra and Takoradi and Barcamp Ghana 2010 will crown the year as the national event.

BarCamps all over the world have brought together individuals and organizations to collaborate on various projects and businesses. BarCamp Ghana’10 is a FREE event for anyone who is interested in using their skills, talent, and resources to benefit Ghana and Africa as a whole. This year, the focus is on telling stories and discussing ways of how entrepreneurs and businessmen can create wealth in a burgeoning Accra metropolis faced with a myriad of challenges.

Unusually, the pivot of this year’s event revolves around breakout sessions instead of the usual mix of discussions and expert panelist presentations – regardless, experts will be seated in each breakout discussion to facilitate the coherence of relevant facts and knowledge on all respective items for deliberation.  This strategy was inspired by the desired outcome of this year’s gathering which is to stimulate an engaging conference between industry stakeholders, consumers and prospective entrepreneurs on the workings and current realities of industries and services in Ghana.

Impressive yet poignant is our bill of facilitating experts, all of which effect the changes and growing definition of their industries worth and direction in this era. Our confirmed list includes

  • Bernard Avle of CITI 07.3 FM,
  • Leila Djansi of Turning Point Pictures,
  • Oluniyi Ajao of Web4Africa,
  • Solomon Adu-Atefoe of Agric Development Bank,
  • Golda Addo of Energy Solutions Foundation,
  • Mohamed Amin Adam of Publish What You Pay,
  • Philip Gamey of Web & Software,
  • DK Osseo-Asare of Anamcity,
  • Paul Tenejou of ROI-MOB-Lang,
  • Ronke Ampiah of Smiles for Christmas

Register or RSVP your participation today at the BarCamp Ghana Eventbrite website. You may also contact the BarCamp Ghana team through the Eventbrite website for sponsorship opportunities. Also, If you are interested in proposing a breakout session, let us know, especially if you have special needs.

BarCamp Ghana 2010 is proudly sponsored by the Ashesi UniversityVodafone GhanaMeltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) , GhanaThink Foundation, Fie.nipa, NandiMobile,Mobile Web Ghana and Google . Our media partners are CITI FMRadio Univers,ModernGhana, GhanaBlogging, Sunlight Radio America, The New Ghanaian, and Skyy Digital. The customer support hotline is 020-1500033. You can send questions, comments, and feedback by SMS and get responses.

See you there!

The above is  a press release about the forthcoming BarCamp Ghana.  I’ve been to at least two of them, and look forward to going to this one.

iPad or Kindle? Items for a real “wish” list

For the last few weeks there has been a small conversation going on about what some of us would really like as our latest gadget.  The iPad and the Kindle were the ones which came up among this small group of women based here in Accra.  Yet none of us has really interacted with either of these new items, but we still want them.  And two of us are young, and yours truly is not so young.  So I don’t think it is totally a generational thing.

Maybe I should go and look in the Apple store in the Accra Mall, and ask whether they have an iPad – just to look at, and maybe touch?  Of course, realistically it is probably not a good idea to get one here in Ghana just yet, as there are issues about accessing all sorts of stuff from here, but then if iPhones work and their apps work here, why not?  Another key factor to consider is cost, as the iPad is not cheap, and here in Ghana it would be even more expensive.  There is also a matter of dust to be considered, and hard concrete floors. And to be frank, what would I really, really, really do with one?  Apart from showing off, that is?

Now a Kindle is something else:  not so flashy, and pretty discrete looking, and it has been on my wish list for more than a few months.  And I keep going to the Amazon website and seeing the horribly depressing message “We are not able to ship this item to your default shipping address” but then there is another one on the same page – well, with a little following of some links, which says “We are excited to now ship Kindle to Ghana. Customers in Ghana will enjoy:..’  and it goes on.   So what should I believe?

I wish I trusted Ghana Post a bit more, and then I might take the risk and try to buy one and send it to myself. I suspect however that I will take the more precautionary approach, and see if I can buy it in the US, and bring it back with me.   After all, I gather there are oodles of freebies just waiting to be downloaded, even if it is not quite the one-step process it is in the US!

Am I being a bit conservative?  Yes, probably.  But why not?

And after all, I hear there is a project which is testing the use of Kindles in Ghanaian schools, and one of the people involved even came by where I work.

Now, what would be nice is a project using Kindles in higher education in an African setting… but maybe that is too much wishful thinking?