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.

A BIG literary week in Accra!

51hg9fpz0gL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_This is definitely going to be a heavy literary week in Accra, and when I first realized what the schedule would be, I wondered, on Twitter, whether I should clone myself!

This is definitely going to require a bit of juggling.

It started off with Writers Project of Ghana‘s Sunday evening radio show on CitiFM… with Chibundu Onuzu and Elizabeth-Irene Baitie.

Tuesday 16 July:  Taiye Selasi is doing a reading of her book, Ghana must go, at Taverna Tropicana in Nima.  There will also be music, DJ Kobby Graham.  Time:  from 8pm.  I would have liked to go but I think I might give this one a miss, as I do have to go to work the next morning.  Plus I have another commitment that evening…

Wednesday 17 July:  two events on the same day!   Chibundu Onuzu and Emmanuel Iduma will be reading at the WEB DuBois Center in Accra, from 6pm.  And, Taiye  Selasi is officially doing her Ghana launch of Ghana must go at Villa Monticello at 7pm [I think I will go to this one.]  I have a copy of her book, which I must start reading.  If there are copies for sale, then maybe I will buy some for work?

Friday 19 July:  Chibundu Onuzu and Martin Egblewogbe are doing readings, organized by Nii Ayikwei Parkes, at Sytris [I think I will go to this].  Onuzu’s book, The spider king’s daughter, is definitely on my wish list!

Thanks to fellow blogger, Creative Writing Ghana, for a composite post on some of these events.

Ghana conference announcements

It is interesting that once again I have come across announcements for two academic conferences here in Ghana via an external list – H-NET-WEST-AFRICA

Of course I immediately read through each of the postings.  In one case, I looked at the website for the conference, and in the other sent off an email for more information.

The first conference is on African women writers – definitely a subject dear to my heart, and is happening in the first part of the year. “Yari Yari Ntoaso” is taking place in Accra, 16-19 May 2013.

More details are available from http://africanastudies.as.nyu.edu/object/Yari-2013-Ghana.html

The other conference is on African studies, and is being hosted at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, 24 – 26 October 2013. No website for this one – well, OK, it is just a call for papers, but still…

Contact details are as follows: Conference Coordinator, Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, P.O. Box LG 73, Legonm Accra,Ghana. Email iasconference@ug.edu.gh

After some follow-up then I wondered “Why are there not any local lists for such announcements?”

So far I haven’t come up with any really satisfactory answers.

Two recent Accra book events

In the way of things here in Accra, I attended two book events back-to-back last week [sorry for not posting about them earlier – any excuse would just be that].

One was a set of readings at the Goethe Institut by Kojo Laing, an older Ghanaian writer who has published only a few works – under the auspices of the Writers Project of Ghana. His books are not the easiest to read, and listening to Laing’s answers to questions one could understand why.  Although he grounds his work in Ghana, Ghanaian life and culture it has many fantastical elements in it. At times I almost felt like saying that he was on a rather different planet to we mortals! Plus I understood why I had struggled to read, understand and finish the three of his novels which I have read.

  • Women of the aeroplanes
  • Search sweet country
  • Major Gentl and the Achimota wars [not read]
  • Big Bishop Roko and the altar gangsters – the only book I actually have, and of course, I forgot to bring my copy to be autographed! 

The other book event I attended was the launch of a huge (more than 1,600 pages!) two volume work entitled Reclaiming the human sciences & humanities through African perspectives (edited by Helen Lauer and Kofi Anyidoho, and published by Sub-Saharan Publishers). This compendium of historical and contemporary essays/articles was launched at the University of Ghana, Legon, and obviously aimed at academics and senior level students.  I actually arrived early, and watched as the Nketia Conference Hall at the Institute of African Studies gradually filled up.

The programme more or less kept to time, but it still went on.  However you count it, fifteen eight minute speeches/comments/presentations still mount up to two hours,  but I suppose there were a lot of people who had to be recognized and who would be offended if they were not publicly acknowledged.  There wasn’t an auction, for which I was very grateful, but there were plenty of copies of the books to be bought.

I did buy a set for work, but felt that it was a bit much to purchase for my personal collection, even though it was sold at a relative discount!

Interesting that both these events involved rather challenging tomes!

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 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!

Are we training for the 21st century?

I don’t usually talk too much about work in this blog, though I do not hide the fact that I am a librarian both by occupation and profession.

During the last few weeks I’ve been almost a “one-man band” or should I say “one-woman band” at work, as one of my colleagues has left for “greener pastures”.  I wasn’t quite alone, as of course there were work-study students around at odd hours, and also a second set of students on practical attachment from the Department of Information Studies (DIS) at the University of Ghana, Legon.

This was the second pair who had spent time with us, and I found the contrast in their attitude to their practicals to be worth comment.   One of them didn’t even show up until well into day 2, and given that we had a public holiday, this meant he missed almost a quarter of the time here, but it didn’t seem to matter to him.  He said he had been sick, but had not bothered to find out the phone number of his “partner” or even of the institution he was supposed to be visiting.  Yet this is the same person who has worked in a library for several years, and dare I say, of whom one might have expected more?  Or maybe that is precisely why he couldn’t be bothered; maybe he felt he wouldn’t learn anything new?

The other person was around – more or less on time – and tried to keep in touch, if she was going to be late.  Similarly she seemed to be full of questions, and comments about the lack of customer service on the part of people working in libraries in Ghana.

I wondered what would happen to these two students when they left the University of Ghana – one to go back to a job, the other to find one – and what their attitudes would be in their workplaces.

On a more basic level, I got the impression, as we interacted, that a lot of the curriculum and the actual teaching being done at the Diploma level  in the Dept of Information Studies is quite “conservative” and dare I say, a little “old-fashioned”?  I am not saying that everyone should be using PowerPoint, or talking about blogs, but I do expect that students who are ultimately going to be working in some kind of customer service environment which is likely to be dependent on ICTs should have at least heard of some of the contemporary developments.  I was also surprised to hear that there is actually a course in “library automation”, which is exactly the same heading for a course which I did thirty five years ago at the University of Ibadan.  Are these students really being prepared to work in a 21st century environment?

In a more general way, the feedback from students actually made me wonder how much interaction there is between the Department of Information Studies and employers of their “products”.  Does the Department have mechanisms in place for getting feedback on what our expectations are? on what skills we require postgraduates, graduates or diplomates to have?  These could be by face-to-face interaction, hard copy questionnaires, focus groups, even group discussions.  Maybe there are discussions between DIS and the Ghana Library Association?  But if so, are these shared with members?

Of course, curriculum design is not part of our job as an employer, but I think increasingly it is a feature of the modern world that institutions of higher education cannot exist in theoretical vacuum.  What is the point of running professional courses, which are aimed at satisfying the future manpower needs of a particular profession or occupation, without an explicit consciousness that the future will be different from the present?