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.


Library and bookish activities in late October/early November 2015

It’s a long time since I posted on this blog, but it has been on my mind recently,especially as I anticipate a very busy bookish week coming up.

Last week there were various celebrations connected with the 3rd Library and Information Week here in Ghana, including the official launch in Koforidua (Eastern Region), with Ghana’s Second Lady as the Guest of Honour.

Looking forward the annual Ghana International Book Fair will be taking place here in Accra, from Tuesday 3 to Saturday 7 November. There are a lot of workshops and seminars, which bring together those involved in the book chain here in Ghana.

For yours truly though I have to admit that what I really like about the book fair is the chance to stroll around the stands, and see whether there are any titles which strike my fancy.  I know I really don’t need to buy any more books, but I find it very, very difficult to resist, despite overfull TBR shelves.

And in the middle of the Book Fair week, the Ghana Library Association is having its AGM and Seminar, which should be fun, as I have managed to miss several GLA activities over the last year or so.

Six events in two weeks!

In typical Accra style the last couple of weeks have been horribly busy on the bookish front. Often there is a dearth of activities or events, and then suddenly – boom, one after another, to the extent that I hardly feel I am keeping up.

So six different bookish events in the period of two weeks: Programme for Nketsia book

3 book launches
1 book reading
1 book club gathering
and 1 meeting of librarians!

The book launches were for three rather different books, which interestingly enough, were all non-fiction.

Nana Kobina Nketsia V launched his large, and expensive (GH¢200 – which is a little under $100), volume entitled African culture in governance and development: the Ghana paradigm, at a ceremony which was long, and with speakers dominated by what I would nicely call, gentlemen of a certain generation. Almost everyone who spoke was over 60, with the exception of playwright Kobina Sekyi’s granddaughter, who got to give the vote of thanks. Ironically, given the criticisms of colonialism, the launch took place at the British Council! There were a good number of people who matter in attendance, including the Vice-President. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough money to buy a copy – but maybe I’ll get one for work at some later date?

Africa: A miner's canaryThe second book launch was for Africa: A miner’s canary into the 21st century, by Ivor Agyeman-Duah. I freely admit that I have known the author for many years, since he started his writing career as a journalist in Kumasi, so I do try to support any of his events. And I did buy a couple of copies of the book – one for work, and one for myself.

I was late for the last book launch – there was a work away day/retreat – but I have to admit that I was not too unhappy about this. Nana Awere Damoah’s latest book, I speak of Ghana, was launched at a I speak of Ghanalocal bookshop, Sytris, in the evening of the Farmers’ Day public holiday. The venue was packed, but I wondered why some of those present were actually there, as there were constant loud conversations going on at the back of the venue – to the extent that the MC conducting the auction had to actually ask people to keep quiet. And I don’t think any of the noise makers were book buyers! But I bought a copy of the book, and had the author autograph it, and look forward to reading some of Nana’s accounts of life in contemporary Ghana.

The book reading, by Malaka Grant, was another opportunity for some book buying, as she brought along some copies of her recently published book, The daughters of swallows. Malaka, who lives in the US, was full of energy and fun, and her audience at the Goethe Institut (part of the Writers Project of Ghana monthly events) responded with great glee. Ironically I suspect that most of those present knew The daughters of swallowsher because of her connection with the blog Adventures from , while yours truly was more familiar with her other somewhat more domestic blog Mind of Malaka.

The Accra Book Club gathering was, in contrast to the rest of the events, a bit of a fizzle. Only two of us showed up! Oh well…

GLA logoAnd finally there was the Ghana Library Association‘s 2013 Seminar and AGM which took place at the Balme Library. It’s an annual affair, and though this was a one-day event, it was good to see other colleagues, some of whom travel from far outside Accra. Plus this year there were not only a few speeches and presentations, but a breakout session which allowed members to speak their mind on selected library topics. And the AGM went smoothly, with hardly any acrimonious comments, which have on occasion characterized such occasions.

Ghana Library Association 50th anniversary Seminar 1

I attended the first of two professional seminars being organized by the Ghana Library Association on Friday 18 May 2012.  This was part of the organization’s 50th anniversary celebration, having been founded in 1962.  As is often the case, the event took place at the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) Hall here in Accra.  The central location is a great plus, and I suspect that it is not too expensive, which is great for local NGOs.  Personally I find that the set-up is very traditional, with raised stage – about a metre and a half higher than the floor – with a long table and the usual podium.  Definitely a high table, and an audience.  But at least the chairs were OK, the air-conditioning worked, and the microphones worked, so I shouldn’t complain.

The organization of the event was good; I arrived early – as usual – around 7.30am – and already the registration table was set up, with tantalizing 50th anniversary promotional items displayed for sale.  How could I resist?  I didn’t… Folders were ready, and copies of the papers were available on a CD!  Less paper, less trees, less hassle doing photocopying and dealing with people who want copies of papers but don’t really need them or didn’t pay to attend.  It’s also good to listen to a presentation, and then know that one can read it later at one’s leisure.

The programme did start a little late, but the first part went quickly, and everyone kept to time. As there was a significant sponsor plus some donors of books, there was time for them, but that was OK.  [It seems this is becoming a part of programmes where there are sponsors – as I noticed this was an integral part of the Blog Camp 2012  as well.].  A group photo followed, then there was the usual snack break, before getting down to the main presentations.

Prof Anaba Alemna (at the Dept of Information Studies, University of Ghana, Legon) spoke about “Libraries – Key to national development”, arguing that the potential for libraries in Ghana has not been realized because of lack of enabling legislation and support from key groups.  Valentina Bannerman (University Librarian at the University of Education in Winneba) discussed the role of libraries in building a knowledge economy.  And the final presentation was by the ever controversial Kosi Kedem (Chair of the Board of the Ghana Library Authority and former Member of Parliament) who managed to criticize four key groups of stakeholders for not supporting the creation of a National Library in Ghana.  Naturally the last presentation did inspire lots of questions and some rebuttals; but that was enjoyable, and thought provoking. Unfortunately the event had to come to an end, otherwise we would have been there for several more hours!  

Ghana Library Association 50th anniversary activities in 2012

I am a practicing librarian and I try to take part in activities of the Ghana Library Association, of which I am a member.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the GLA, which was founded in 1962 – an era when libraries in Ghana were supported not only by government in power, but also by the then President, Kwame Nkrumah.

A provisional programme of events and activities has now been released, and I shall definitely be taking part in some, and observing and commenting on others.

Main Theme   Libraries: Key to National Development

Sub themes:
1. Libraries: driving access to knowledge
2. Libraries: facilitators of knowledge generation
3. Knowing is not enough: engaging in the knowledge economy
4. Enhancing the culture of reading
5. The academic library of the future
6. The public library of the future
7. The special library of the future
8. The school library of the future
9. Building a strong library association
10. The illusive national library: the case of Ghana

Programme of Activities

  • Regional launches
  • Photo exhibitions in various libraries
  • GLA/PAWA/GAW collaboration
  • Visits to school libraries
  • Book donations to selected school libraries
  • Reading clinics
  • Professional seminars
  • Workshop
  • Radio talk shows & TV programmes
  • Interaction with Information Studies students
  • Anniversary edition of the Ghana Library Journal 
  • Thanksgiving service & dinner dance
  • Congress/AGM

There aren’t any definite dates and venues yet, but I shall be posting more updates, as I gather more information.


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!

Ghana Library Association annual general meeting taking place in Kumasi

I am a librarian, by training, and by profession.

This week, on 16th and 17th December 2010, the Ghana Library Association, to which I belong, is holding its 2010 Biennial Congress and AGM.

Unfortunately I am unable to attend – as it is taking place at KNUST in Kumasi, but I do hope that it goes well.   I think it will also be a good opportunity for many library practitioners based in the northern part of Ghana, and especially in and around Kumasi, to attend such a function, without having to travel all the way to Accra.   Certainly I know I used to feel a little left out and deprived of events when I lived in Kumasi, so in that sense I think it is very much a good thing.

But for me personally I just couldn’t go. Being away right at the end of the semester, when the piles of returned textbooks grow higher and higher, is not fair to colleagues.  Plus travelling right before Christmas when traffic becomes doubly insane is another disincentive.  And then there are the domestic considerations…   So plenty of reasons, or are they excuses?

I do feel a certain element of disappointment, of course.  I do like meeting fellow librarians and colleagues, and just generally supporting the Association.  The theme of “Open access to information” is also interesting and relevant, though I suspect some of the papers may be on the theoretical rather than practical side.

One small comment:  I wish there were some colleagues who were tweeting about it, but so far I haven’t found any.

But I shouldn’t feel too deprived of networking events, as I will be going to the BarCamp Ghana 2010 event on 18 December which is taking place at Ashesi.  And I know there will be lots of write-ups and tweets to look at during and after the event.

Are there any Ghanaian librarians blogging out there?

All right, I don’t mind being one of a few, but I do wonder whether there are any Ghanaian librarians blogging out there?  I have looked, but with not a whole lot of success.  That could be my fault – in which case I have some definite issues with my searching skills – but I suspect that there aren’t many of us, or perhaps they are not blogging about libraries, librarians and books?  Is this a reflection of what we are, or maybe aren’t, passionate about?

All right, I am including myself in the group of Ghanaian librarians, which I hope is permitted.  I even posted something on the Ghana Library Association website’s forums, but no response yet, though that doesn’t really surprise me, I guess.

So far I have found the following, whom I proudly publicize:

Christian from Lolobi-Kumasi‘s blog is mostly but not exclusively photos.  I did mention to him, that a little more text would be nice.

Another more recently discovered one is the Interesting information professional blog, which I learned about at a recent workshop.  It seems as if it is tied to work at KNUST in Kumasi, more than anything else.

I guess I firmly believe that we librarians need not only to be aware of Web 2.0 tools such as blogging (among others), but we need to use them, and to promote ourselves and the skills and knowledge many of us have.

If the information I provide to colleagues, faculty or students is relevant,  interesting and/or even just  fun, I think I am performing part of my job.  And it is not so different from asking someone whether they’ve seen the latest copy of this or that magazine, or a particular new work in their field.

2009 GLA Seminar and AGM

On Friday 20 November 2009 I spent the whole day out of the office, attending the 2009 Ghana Library Association (GLA) Seminar and Annual General Meeting (AGM). For some reason while I was at British Council I didn’t make a very concerted effort to attend these annual events, except when they took place at the BC. It is an omission which I do regret, as I think it is important to stay in touch with one’s professional colleagues.

Every two years the GLA event and AGM takes place over two days, while on the alternative years, it is a one-day affair. 2009 was one of the latter years, so everything took place on one day, and as is not unusual here, there were a lot fewer people present at the afternoon event, as opposed to the official opening, and paper in the morning.

As usual I got to the venue early, but there were some people there already – mostly members of the GLA executive – but it was good to have quite a while to sort out matters like stuffing papers into files, checking that the projector which the Goethe Institut had brought worked properly, and was in the best position for a presentation, and so on. Altogether attendance was fairly good – over a hundred, and people spent much of the pre-official time talking to friends and generally keeping in touch.

It was quite a surprise that the Minister of Education, Alex Tettey-Enyo, was actually early, but as all the key people were around, there was the usual Ghanaian opening ceremony, with a prayer, introduction of key people, and then various speeches. TG none of them was too long. Interestingly enough the Minister of [or is it for?] Environment, Science and Technology, Sherry Aryeetey, also came in for a while. Not sure exactly why, though I was aware that she would be attending another conference in the same venue. But she too was pretty supportive of libraries. Tettey-Enyo did say that there was a need for new skills and competencies, and “that [it was] people not technology that create value for knowledge”. There were also speeches by the Director of the Goethe Institut (which sponsored the new GLA website) and of course by the current President of the GLA.

I did wonder what people watching and listening thought about the new GLA website, as I didn’t see anyone come up after the initial opening ceremony to say “let me see… can I try?” Maybe people felt a little inhibited?

The formal presentation was by Nii Tackie, a Lecturer at the Dept of Information Studies at the University of Ghana on “Life long learning: the role of libraries” which was the theme of the whole event. Personally I was a little frustrated at the manner of delivery as well as the content. Tackie did apologize for the lack of a PowerPoint presentation – due to “light off” at a crucial time the previous day – and said he would not read the whole of the fourteen page paper, which he didn’t. But to me, without a copy of the paper in front of me to read, it was somewhat frustrating. The content was very much a literature review in my opinion, and I would have thought it would have been more appropriate to tell the audience present to read the paper for this part, and then directly home in on the relevant bits – which were issues to do with the applicability of the seminar theme to Ghana and/or elsewhere in Africa. There were some questions, but not very many.

The business sections of the AGM were fairly straightforward: President, Secretary and Treasurer’s reports, plus one from the Editor of the Ghana Library Journal . The only real controversy came up over whether or not the names of members should be published in the newspapers, and when this could take place. I was a little surprised at how passionate many people were about this issue, and realized upon reflection that this is often the practice for professional associations and groups in Ghana, and a way of giving a very public credibility to members.

Overall I felt that the executive and organizers had obviously put a lot of work into making this event happen, but I did wonder how much the participants got out of it – professionally and intellectually.Does the format of having a very high table, and the rest on the lower level, promote interaction?  Similarly the theatre style seating doesn’t really encourage a lot of people giving feedback. Would it be possible to have presentations to smaller groups – who could then report to the larger assembly, or something along these lines?

Thoughts I admit, not really actions, but worth following up?