Monday, December 30, 2013

Kitwe Public Library in Zambia

The Kitwe Public Library (KPL) started operations in the early 1960s. It is
Kitwe Public Library main entrance
located at the City Square in a building that was constructed in 1954. The building originally served as the Civic Centre and later as a Whites’ only library before becoming a public library. The library falls under the Department of Housing and Social Services of the Kitwe City Council.

Library membership is open to the public. However, adults pay five Kwacha (about US$0.90) per month to use the library while junior membership fee is fixed at three Kwacha (about US$0.54) per month. The library has a seating capacity of about 85 in addition to 50 at its Buchi Township branch library. This capacity is not adequate for a city with a population of about 520,000 inhabitants (based on 2010 Population Census).
Reading room
KPL has about 14,000 volumes covering textbooks, reference materials and children’s books. However, most of the collection is obsolete. The library was once an Environmental Public Information Centres (EPIC) and served as a public disclosure and reference centre for research and other educational and academic purposes supporting the World Bank funded Copperbelt Environment Project (CEP). Kitwe, founded in 1936, is the hub of the Copperbelt Province in which the copper mining industry dominates. Environmental problems associated with the mining industry are a major issue. CEP addressed environmental liabilities associated with the mining sector. CEP closed in 2011.

ICT in the library

Library card catalogue
Like most public libraries in sub-Saharan Africa, Kitwe Public Library is yet to embrace fully modern information and communication technologies (ICT). When you walk into the library, you will see that there are no signs of any use of computers for public library services such as library loans/circulation or Open Access Public Catalogue (OPAC). The old library card catalogue still lives on.

Although efforts are being made to use computers in the library, they seem inadequate. During the Copperbelt Environment Project the World Bank donated four computers to the library. Today, only two standalone computers are operational and are being used for office work. In 2011, the Kitwe City Council purchased a computer server for the library and Koha, an open source library automation system, was installed. After about one year of operation, the library experienced problems with the server and since then the system has been down.

The library is not connected to the Internet. It therefore lacks access to digital information resources including thousands of peer reviewed electronic journals and books available online for free or at reduced cost to public institutions in most developing countries.

Plans are on paper to connect the library to the Internet. However, it is not clear as to when this will happen. A room with computer network cables and extra-power points is being prepared to serve as an Internet access centre. Let us hope that soon, the Kitwe Public Library will be connected to global knowledge through the Internet.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Digital agriculture information management in ECOWAS countries

I recently organized a seminar on Agricultural Information Management and Knowledge Exchange in ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) countries in Akosombo, a small town in the east of Ghana in the Eastern Region and the site of the Akosombo Dam. I invited senior officers responsible for information management and dissemination functions in Ministries of Agriculture to discuss the impact and the resulting policy and strategy implications of modern information and communication technologies on agricultural information management, dissemination, and knowledge exchange in their ministries.

Workshop participants
The participants came from  Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. Only Côte d'Ivoire was not represented at the seminar. They included directors or officers in charge of ICT,  Archives, Libraries and Documentation, Communication and Public Relations, and Agricultural Statistics.

From the ensuing discussions it was evident that there is an absence of appropriate policies to facilitate information management and dissemination and a general lack of investments in digital agricultural information management and dissemination activities. The result is that a lot of emphasis is being placed on print-based information resources which by default are limited in circulation. In most instances very few copies of print documents are produced, mainly as grey literature, and are rarely documented making difficult to know what is available in the Ministry.

The absence of coordination among the units or departments involved in the collection, management and dissemination of information was also a major concern for some participants. They indicated that in some cases communication units and IT departments do not coordinate their activities regarding content generation for the Ministry’s web site.

The participants agreed that social media has a role to play in information dissemination and knowledge sharing. However, official use of social media tools in Ministries of Agriculture was said to be very limited. Some ministries are experimenting with social media, especially with Facebook. But without social media strategies in place, such experiments are doomed to fail.

While some Ministries of Agriculture (i.e. Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal) have developed websites, the discussions revealed that provision of content on the websites is erratic, and is a major challenge. Most websites do not provide access to full-text documents produced by the Ministries due to the absence of policies on digital information resources dissemination. In some cases, up-loading documents to the website takes longer than necessary because of weaknesses in the internal work flows for digital content management.

Agriculture statistics graphs
from CountrySTAT
One aspect of information management that is doing quite well in the region is agricultural statistics. Countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo have been assisted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to develop their capacity to provide reliable statistical data on food and agriculture, necessary to monitor national trends. This was done under the CountrySTAT initiative, and they all have websites where agricultural related statistics are publicly accessible.

If Africa is to fight poverty with information and knowledge, easy access to relevant information, such as information for agricultural and rural development, is critical. Ministries of Agriculture can easily make their information accessible if they managed and disseminated their information resources in digital information. To achieve this, they will have to put in place policies and strategies conducive for digital information management and sharing, and invest in both institutional and individual capacity development.
Justin Chisenga, PhD
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
Regional Office for Africa
Accra, Ghana

Thursday, December 5, 2013

First CARLIGH international conference

The Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries, Ghana (CARLIGH) is pleased to announce that the 1st International Conference of the Consortium will be held in Accra, Ghana from 14-18  July 2014  as part of its 10th Anniversary celebrations. 

Theme and Sub-Themes
The theme for the Conference is: “Innovation for access to information”.

The sub-themes for the Conference are:
  1. Library integration and resource sharing
  2. Technology driven information services – E-resources, Institutional Repository, Open Access
  3. The 21st Century Librarian – satisfying the needs of varied users
  4. Social media in libraries and information service delivery
  5. Impact of social media on socio-economic development
  6. Innovative library marketing and collaboration
The Governing Board of CARLIGH wishes to invite both local and foreign participants to register for the conference. Please send the following personal information: Name, Institution of Work, Designation, Country of Origin,  Contact  Address, Telephone and Email to: and
Registration fees
Local participants  GH¢300
Foreign participants $250

The registration fee covers, snacks, lunches, a dinner and conference materials. The deadline for registration is  15th February, 2014. Registration is open to both those who want to present papers and other participants. Further information would be provided on how to pay the registration fees.

Information about accommodation would be provided in due course. The planning committee is still negotiating for conference rates.

Submission of Abstracts
The Consortium invites the submission of abstracts to be considered for papers to be presented at CARLIGH 2014. Abstract must be presented in bold; Arial 12, and a maximum of 150 words. Download the guidelines for authors.
All abstracts and papers should be sent to the following addresses:

   Dr. Mrs. Helena Asamoah-Hassan, University Librarian,
   KNUST, Kumasi. Email:

   Alhaji Ibrahim Kwabena Antwi, University Librarian
   UDS, Tamale. Email:

Deadline for Abstracts: 31st January 2014
Authors whose abstracts will be accepted will be notified by 15th February 2014

Submission of Full Papers
The final document is to be submitted by 31st March 2014 in MS Word format.  Submissions received after 31st March 2014 will automatically be dropped from the programme.

Authors are responsible for the quality of their paper and are kindly requested to observe the following guidelines for the preparation and delivery of manuscripts. Use of English (UK) spell checker is recommended.

The 1st International Conference of CARLIGH promises to be a melting point of great minds in the global knowledge economy.  It is expected that a cross section of the society interested in information as the driver of emerging economies will attend.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Survey of agricultural information centres, libraries and documentation centres in Africa

Is this the state of agricultural information centres
in sub-Saharan Africa?
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) - Regional Office for Africa, in collaboration with the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the International Association of Agricultural Information Specialists (IAALD Africa Chapter), is conducting an online survey of agricultural information centres, libraries and documentation centre.

The goal of the survey is to establish the state of agricultural information centres, libraries and documentation centres in sub-Saharan Africa.

Potential use of the results of the survey include the design of capacity development and technical support initiatives to enhance access, dissemination and exchange of agricultural information and knowledge in sub-Saharan Africa.

You can prepare to complete the online survey by downloading and reviewing a PDF (266K) copy of the questionnaire.

To complete the survey online, on Survey Monkey, click HERE or cut and paste the following link in your browser:

The survey closes on 20 December 2013