Recent books, libraries and information events

The last couple of weeks have been full of events related to books, reading, libraries and information, so
maybe I should take a bit of time to mention some of them.

The first two were what I would call “regulars”:

Ghana Voices, which part of the Writers Project of Ghana , featured prize-winning author Elizabeth-Irene Baitie reading from her latest novel for teens, The twelfth heart,  a boarding school based story. This was the evening that Accra suffered floods, so the audience wasn’t as large as expected, but Baitie is not only a good reader, but enthusiastic about both her writing, and her professional work. I already had a copy of the book, so at least I managed to get the author’s autograph, plus it has moved from a TBR shelf to my desk, which is definitely up on my priority list.

Accra Book Club had its monthly gathering, and this time the book was Ann Patchett’s widely acclaimed book,
State of wonder, which interesting enough I think we all read on Kindles! Although we were all somewhat critical of certain aspects of the book, that didn’t detract from its being a good choice for a book discussion. Our next discussion will be Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, so I’ve started that – again on my Kindle.

The last three are more work and professionally oriented:

One of the Africa representatives of Elsevier,  a large
publisher of STM (science, technology and medicine) books, journals and other materials, did a presentation
of several of their database products, including ScienceDirect and Scopus . It was obviously a sales pitch, but still interesting
nonetheless. And a good opportunity to meet three colleagues whom I hadn’t seen for a while. The only thing
which upset me was the fact that twenty-seven people had signed up to attend, but only ten actually came!

I also did a quick visit to the 10th Ghana International Book Fair, which took place at the Ghana
International Trade Fair. As I went in the afternoon, there were large numbers of schoolchildren in uniform
around – some looking at books, the odd ones reading some, and others just rejoycing in being at the Fair on
an officially sanctioned outing. I didn’t buy much – as most of the books available are either textbooks,
supporting material for basic education, or books for children. I did want some dictionaries but couldn’t
find the variety I was looking for. I wasn’t happy.

The last event was the Ghana Library Association Seminar and AGM – a one day event which alternates every
year with a two day Congress and AGM at which elections are held. This year’s event was held a bit earlier
than usual – to coincide with the GIBF – whose theme did include libraries, after all – and was held at the
Ghana International Trade Fair. Close to a hundred librarians from all over Ghana gathered to discuss the
future of libraries, and how our own association will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2012. There was lots
of interaction between friends and colleagues, though as usual there were many issues left unresolved.

Now I have to catch up with work!

Visits to Ghana International Book Fair 2010

I did visit the Ghana International Book Fair 2010 at the Ghana Trade Fair site in Accra twice, but didn’t attend any of the related functions, so of course what I have to say is purely limited to the actual exhibition space, rather than any of the associated activities.

This year the venue of the GIBF shifted back to the Ghana Trade Fair  from the National Theatre where it has been held for the last several [I’m afraid I don’t remember how many] years.

I guess each venue has its advantages and disadvantages – and being on several floors at the National Theatre could definitely be considered a disadvantage, with some members of the public being unwilling to move upstairs.  Similarly some may have found it a bit of an effort to move out of the main exhibition space to where one exhibitor – EPP – usually had its space.  I guess also if there were a lot of visitors, then it could seem to be a bit crowded.

So, obviously one of the main advantages of the Trade Fair is that it is big, with plenty of space – but it seems to me to be almost be tooo much space.  Although stands were allocated, according to the Fair brochure, to companies, there were lots of empty spaces, and even on the last day, the venue could hardly be called crowded!

As there was no admission fee, I also wondered how the organisers were able to get a tally of numbers of visitors…

My other “beef” is with the attitude of some of the people working on the stands, and this is not just at the Book Fair, but other events at the Trade Fair.  I know that it is warm, and perhaps nothing much is going on, but to me “sleeping” while on duty is not really acceptable, and in my view reflects on the company an individual is supposed to be representing.  Of course exhibitors could make sure that those manning the stands run shifts, rather than “working” a 12-hour day?

I didn’t buy many books, but then that is not too surprising, as the orientation of the Fair was very much towards child literacy.  Nevertheless, I look forward to the next one!

7th Ghana International Book Fair

I did go to the biennial (and yes I do mean every two years) Ghana International Book Fair, and I did go twice, as I originally guessed/suspected.   There didn’t seem to be quite as many stands as on some previous years, but generally it seemed better organised.  There were quite a few events taking place during the week – some workshops for publishers, writers, poets, plus some book launches as well as gatherings for children.   I went to one book launch – of some Senior High School textbooks for Core Maths and Core English – held at British Council, mainly because of an email invitation from the Ghana Library Association. The brochure for the Fair wasn’t badly done, and had contact details for exhibitors, which is useful in the future.

For me personally there wasn’t that much I was interested in – the big market is of course the educational one – and for general reading many of the exhibitors had books suitable for primary age children.  Otherwise the selection seems to be aimed at the academic market, so I did pick up a few things for work, and met a colleague who was doing the same!

The kids did buy some second hand “trashy” novels (I wonder why not more of these second hand sellers were around – I guess they figure they don’t need to bring attention to themselves?  or it is is too expensive to exhibit?).  And I bought a couple more African Writers Series books, plus some Nigerian plays which I have heard of, but I am ashamed to say I have never read.

Not sure how these two ends of the market – which are mostly education oriented are going to make a reading nation, but still I suppose it is a start.